Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia Celebrates Two New Champions The Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia is celebrating two brand new champions in the form of 19-year-old Briton Jonathan Cocker, who took the 2005 overall honours, and Hong Kong ...
Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia Celebrates Two New Champions
The Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia is celebrating two brand new champions in the form of 19-year-old Briton Jonathan Cocker, who took the 2005 overall honours, and Hong Kong racer Alain Li who spectacularly won the Class B title after a highly successful return to racing after an absence of several years.
Cocker made his series debut in 2004 in a one-off appearance at the inaugural China Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend and immediately made his mark by taking the win. That year he clinched the British GT Championship title and made what many considered was a risky decision to compete in Asia the following year. With the GruppeM Racing team, the youngster faced a multitude of challenges not least of which were the five Asian circuits on which he had never even driven, let alone raced.
He proved he could adapt quickly to any situation with which he was faced but, from the outset, he was impressed by the high level of competition he faced from his fellow drivers. Fortunately, he never believed the title would be a walkover, which it certainly wasn't and he won the championship from Thai veteran Charoensukhawatana Nattavude by just a single point.
Hong Kong's Alain Li was another series "rookie" in 2005. In addition, Li hadn't raced competitively for six years, had never raced a Porsche and, like Cocker, was completely new to all the circuits the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia visited.
Li enjoyed his season tremendously, not just for the intense competition amongst his fellow non-professional drivers such as William "Chip" Connor, who chased Li in the points all the way to the final round, but also for the challenge of chasing the Class A drivers. As the season progressed, the entire Class raised its game and the gap to the professionals shrank. In Li's case, who notched up five Class wins to clinch the championship by just two points from Connor, his debut season performance was so impressive that he will move up to Class A next year.
In the season grand finale at the Macau Grand Prix in November, where the entire field was lauded for its brilliant display of world-class sportscar competition, the pair clinched their respective titles and were rewarded with their championship trophies and also a luxury mobile phone from prestigious partner Vertu.
The Vertu Ascent handsets awarded are not only inspired by the design of racing cars but crafted for performance and hence make fitting gifts for the two new Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Champions. Like Porsche, Vertu is a brand that has been breaking new ground since its inception -- and both companies share similar qualities: A tradition for innovation and a dedication to performance and craftsmanship.
Nattavude was typically gracious in defeat, testament to his extraordinary sporting character, particularly as he had led the championship race all the way to the penultimate round in Shanghai. The winner of multiple titles in a wide variety of motorsport disciplines, Nattavude nevertheless gave his China-based SCC Racing Team an excellent debut season.
Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young finished third in the championship but scored a superb victory in the final round at Macau. At just 25 years-of-age there is far more to come from this talented Hong Kong driver and he is tipped to be a hot prospect for the title next season.
Another Hong Kong driver, A-Ha Racing's Matthew Marsh, winner of the championship in 2004, was fourth in the final standings, while Nattavude's protege and fellow Thai Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak was fifth after unavoidably missing three rounds. Like Cocker, Vutthikorn's points-scoring was only once outside double digits and his undoubted talent really came to the fore this year.
Sri Lanka's Dilantha Malagamuwa and his AI Racing team had a consistent season, finishing every one of the 11 races, while Briton Nigel Albon had a disappointing year which looked like finishing on a high note in Macau when he expertly grabbed the lead from O'Young. Sadly his bad luck returned moments later when he fell victim to the unforgiving nature of the Guia street circuit.
In Class B, two DNFs denied Connor the title by a mere two points, but his determination -- and increasing speed -- meant he was a front-runner all year. Vutthikorn's Team Thailand team mate, Sontaya Kunplome, competing in his first full season, was consistent throughout which meant he finished third in the Class B championship. Hong Kong's Philip Ma was fourth in the standings, having missed four races, two of which were contested by brother Patrick.
After another highly successful season, drivers and organisers are already gearing up for the start of the 2006 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia which once again promises some of the most exciting, intense and skilled motorsport action to be found anywhere in Asia.
Supporting the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia are two of the most recognised names in international motorsport, Mobil1 and Michelin. Mobil and Porsche have been partners since 1996. Close co-operation in research and development has led to every new Porsche engine being filled with Mobil1 high-performance lubricant. Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia drivers also have the advantage of racing on cutting-edge tyres supplied by series partner Michelin. The consistent performance and leading technology of Michelin tyres constantly improve the performance of many teams in international motorsport. The partnership between Michelin and the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia has emerged from a worldwide agreement signed between Porsche AG and the Michelin group
The Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia runs as part of the Asian Festival of Speed, organised by Malaysian-based Motorsport Asia Limited.