HONG KONG'S LE MANS DREAM ON HOLD
Hong Kong's Le Mans team has reached the end of the road - for this year at least.
SAR driver Matthew Marsh has confirmed the team will not be on the starting grid when the Le Mans 24 Hours takes place on June 17-18.
"We've exhausted the possibilities for gaining a starting spot," he said. "It's disappointing because we've put a lot of time and effort into the project, but that's motor racing. Sometimes the toughest battles are off the track."
Noble Group-Gruppe Racing, spearheaded by Marsh, was launched a year ago with the aim of becoming the first Hong Kong team to compete at Le Mans.
The team's Porsche GT3 RSR, piloted by Marsh and co-driver Darryl O'Young, competed in endurance races in Europe and China as part of their preparations.
But, despite some excellent results, the Le Mans 24 Hours organisers declined to extend an invitation.
Marsh then had lengthy discussions with several teams which had guaranteed starting slots, but none of them were in a position to offer a competitive alternative and the prominence which the Hong Kong project justified.
A major consolation for Marsh is that he will be driving on the same weekend as Le Mans in another of Europe's great sports car races, the Nurburgring 24 Hours, where he will partner two German drivers in a Porsche 996 GT3.
In addition, the Hong Kong driver does have one definite date at Le Mans - he will head to the famous French circuit early next month to compete in the Le Mans Classic, a series of races within a 24-hour period for historic racing cars.
Marsh is teaming up with Hong Kong businessman and motor racing enthusiast Chip Connor and former Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan in a 1972 Ferrari Daytona and 1964 Alfa Romeo TZ1.
"Le Mans is a great circuit and to be able to drive it in a pair of classic cars will be awesome," said Marsh. "That promises to be a terrific weekend."