Porsche Carrera Cup Asia
Rounds 3 & 4, Shanghai International Circuit
April 19-20, 2008
Menzel Masters Shanghai to take Pole
Team StarChase ace Christian Menzel mastered the Shanghai International Circuit in impressive style, taking pole position for tomorrow’s Round 3 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. New to the circuit, the German made his mark in his first lap of the qualifying session today, clocking a lap of 2 minutes 05.419 seconds. His pole time couldn’t be beaten, despite the best efforts of Team BetterLife’s Marchy Lee who, in the dying seconds of the session, set a time of 2 minutes 05.776 seconds, just 0.357 seconds off Menzel’s. Briton Tim Sugden was third fastest for GruppeM Racing.
With the first two rows of the grid for tomorrow’s race made up of Chinese teams, Team Jebsen’s Darryl O’Young clocked the fourth fastest time today on a wet track.
SC Global Racing’s Matthew Marsh put in a brilliant performance having had to sit out the second practice session of the day as a new engine was fitted in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. The EKS Motorsport team worked feverishly and the car was back in pristine condition for qualifying, during which Marsh finished fifth quickest, just over half a second off O’Young’s best time.
In Class B, it was Melvin Choo of ThunderAsia Racing who took pole position, ahead of winner of the opening two rounds, Tunku Hammam of Malaysia. Australian series newcomer Paul Tresidder was third fastest.
On a wet track, Menzel wasted no time in getting his lightning-quick lap in, a brave move for a driver who had just two practice sessions earlier in the day under his belt, and had otherwise never experienced the circuit. Menzel modestly claimed the rain to be a great equaliser: “It is much easier to learn in the rain as a racing driver, the rain can compensate for inexperience of the track. In the dry it is much more difficult. In the beginning (of the session) the conditions were better, and when the pit lights are green you must go! It was a big risk to drive (like that) in the rain, but I brought the car home. The conditions were changing lap by lap, so it makes it difficult to bring 100%. You must learn to react quickly to the changing conditions.”
Menzel certainly did so, but Lee wasn’t giving up and set his fastest lap of the session on his last circuit before the flag. Said the Hong Kong racer: “In the beginning, I didn’t seize the opportunity for a quick lap. I came in and saw I was two seconds slower, so I came back on new tyres and improved a lot. Plus I now have more experience in a Porsche in the wet!”
Sugden, who had topped the times in the first practice of the day, was plagued by a problem he’d identified in the second practice session, but was unable to pin down: “We weren’t quick enough. I lost probably half a second on my best lap when I made a mistake. We were quick enough to be second, but not quick enough to be on pole,” he admitted. Sugden did one lap on slicks to see how bad the conditions were, and felt a problem so pitted changed tyres, but spent the remainder of the session trying to solve the mystery glitch. “Third’s OK, it’s not the end of the world,” he added.
Speed Sri Lanka’s Dilantha Malagamuwa also had an impressive – and eventful – outing, finishing sixth on the time sheets: “I gave up my life for that last lap!” he exclaimed. “I was aqua planing out there, but I came in and saw I was 12th, so I just went for it.”
Choo was thrilled to be on pole: “The first two laps were a good chance to get good times as the track was dryer, but I had a new brake disc so couldn’t push too hard. The race will be very exciting if it rains tomorrow, particularly at the tight turn two!”
Flying the flag for Malaysia, Hammam was satisfied with his outing: “The track was so wet, I spun a few times but managed to get a good lap time. I could have done better.
Tresidder, one of several newcomers to the impressive Shanghai track, was impressed with the circuit: “It’s awesome! It was very exciting. I’m still getting used to the track, but racing here you need to concentrate hard. It was getting better and better towards the end of the session. The car was great, but of course pole would be better!
Rounds 3 and 4 will be run over 11 laps each on the state-of-the-art Shanghai International Circuit as part of the China Circuit Championship weekend.