ATCC: Zhuhai qualifying report

Zhuhai International Circuit, China. 20 October 2001 Qualifying Day Action! - ATCC The qualifying sessions for the Rounds 13 & 14 of the Asian Touring Car Championship got underway today, which will see a total of 17 cars on the grid this ...

Zhuhai International Circuit, China. 20 October 2001
Qualifying Day Action! - ATCC

The qualifying sessions for the Rounds 13 & 14 of the Asian Touring Car Championship got underway today, which will see a total of 17 cars on the grid this weekend at the Zhuhai International Circuit, China.

In the Div 1 class, C Nattavude quickly stomped his authority at Zhuhai, taking pole for both races tomorrow. The Thai, in his newly-painted fluorescent yellow Peugeot 306, was blistering quick on the 4.3km circuit, and never looked challenged.

"In the morning qualifying session (Rd 13), the car was experiencing gearbox and a small engine problem. As you saw, my mechanics were hard at work to fix the problem and at the same time, fine tune the car not only for this weekend's races, but also for the Macau GP next month," said Nattavude.

Paul Chan, in the sole 6 cylinder car in the ATCC - a BMW 320i - drove an equally stunning qualifying race, to qualify behind Nattavude on both rounds. "My car is running great now, except that I cannot use the clutchless quick-shift system due to a slightly faulty clutch. That is slowing me down abit, but I still have to admit Nattavude is very fast, hats off to him!" said Paul in the post-race press conference. "I believe I can go slightly faster tomorrow, as I was stuck in traffic for most of the session," Paul added after the morning session.

In the afternoon session, even though he qualified second, Paul was less than happy with his performance. "I was trying hard... too hard to catch up with Nattavude, and I ended up making too many mistakes. Luckily I'm still second on the grid, and I'm sure with Nattavude up in front, and Kenny behind me, it is going to be a very fun race."

Just as the top two grid positions tomorrow are the same for Rounds 13 and 14, Kenny Chun also makes it a double this weekend in Zhuhai, taking 3rd spot on the grid for both races. "The car is going very good, and with lots of experience racing here, I'm very happy to have qualified 3rd for both rounds tomorrow," said a delighted Kenny.

"It's going to be a tough weekend though, as I'm also driving in another series this weekend in the support race. That car has the gear shifter on the right, as opposed to my Honda. My Honda has the typical 5-speed H-gate shifter, while the other one has a sequential gearbox. And on top of that, my right contact lense fell off halfway through the afternoon qualifying session, and I had to come in. Talk about tough!" Kenny told the crowd at the post-race press conference room, much to their amusement.

In the Div 2 qualifying sessions, Takayuki Fujita as expected took pole for both Rounds 13 & 14 tomorrow. The Japanese was way ahead of the rest of the field, and was right up there even among the best of the Div 1 drivers.

"I'm very happy with the results, of course. But at the moment, my car is experiencing some problems with the brakes, and the mechanics are working on it now. The Zhuhai circuit is very tough on the brakes, and I suspect the brakes will no longer be optimum after 5 laps. So for tomorrow, I plan to push as hard as I can for the first 5 laps, and then be more gentle on the brakes after that," said the Japanese.

The Asian Touring Car Championship Rounds 13 & 14 is part of the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS), and incorporates the Asian Formula 2000 series as well.

The ATCC moves on to the Macau GP next month, with the Div 1 cars joining the prestigious Guia race, while the Div 2 cars participate in the Macau Cup race.

-AFOS-

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Series General
Drivers Paul Chan