Asia: Series Zhuhai qualifying report
Menzel Takes Pole for Penultimate Race of 2010 Season Defending Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion Christian Menzel kept his title defence right on track today by taking his fifth pole position of the 2010 season at the Zhuhai International ...
Menzel Takes Pole for Penultimate Race of 2010 Season
Defending Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion Christian Menzel kept his title defence right on track today by taking his fifth pole position of the 2010 season at the Zhuhai International Circuit in China.
The Team StarChase ace set a scorching time despite the wet track conditions, almost a second faster than guest driver Allan Simonsen of Denmark, who is standing in for OpenRoad Racing regular Marcel Tjia this weekend. Although Simonsen knows the track, this will be the former Australian GT Champion and Le Mans star's first race in Zhuhai.
Third fastest was Japan's Keita Sawa with the LKM Racing Team. Sawa's last outing with the series was at the same circuit back in June, when he recorded two second place finishes.
Championship contender Marchy Lee was 4th fastest for Red Bull Racing, while Team Jebsen's Rodolfo Avila ended his session in the gravel after losing control of his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup at the start of his first flying lap.
In Class B, it was OpenRoad Racing's Francis Tjia of Hong Kong who took pole position, his first of the season, ahead of Modena Motorsports' Wayne Shen and Pauian Archiland Team's Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei. Singapore's Yuey Tan had held on to 3rd for much of the session, and his 8th overall quickest time represented his best qualifying result to date.
Menzel, who could clinch his second title tomorrow, was understandably pleased to have the advantage of pole for such a crucial race: "The car is absolutely perfect. It is especially difficult as you have to brake five times from top speed back to 2nd gear here, which is very tricky, but that's where you are winning time. My engineer and I had some great ideas for set up, and they worked very well."
Simonsen is enjoying his first outing with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, despite being called up to race at the last moment: "It's very hard coming into a champion- ship you've never driven in. You have to treat it with respect." However, come race day, the man who finished 2nd in class at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours could well have some surprises in store.
For Sawa, finding a wet-weather set up has been a challenge, and he went into qualifying with some reservations: "Third is not so bad, but I have a few complaints about my own performance. I need to change my mindset for tomorrow and to work on a rain set-up," he said.
In Class B, where the competition is if anything even fiercer, Tjia was thrilled to top the time sheets in the category: "I've been trying to get on pole for the whole season, but there are always one or two drivers ahead. Now at least I have one pole position to finish the season! We had a wet race in Shanghai (last month) and now here, and I have been driving consistently. We made lots of changes to the car, we had two practice sessions and the qualifying, and the car is really good."
Shen was facing a dilemma - whether to err on the side of caution, or pick up the pace to challenge Tjia: "I am pleased, but I am concerned I am so far behind my friend. It is like a two second gap! It is very slippery out there, I tried two different settings during the session; one is faster but with a higher chance of going off, the other is easier to drive. I have to choose the more aggressive setting if I want to catch Francis in the race. I'll have to think about what to do."
Tan was overjoyed to discover he can be quick in the wet: "I went out and followed Menzel and Sawa and the quick guys, and I improved by just doing that. I went four seconds quicker. It was my best qualifying ever, and I normally don't go well in the rain!"
Menzel, for one, would relish a wet race tomorrow: "In the rain, every corner and braking area is an adventure. Every lap brings new conditions and new problems. This is what I enjoy, which is why rallying is my favourite!"
Rounds 11 and 12 are the final races of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season and are being run in support of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at the 4.319km Zhuhai International Circuit.
-source: pcc asia
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