AP: Round four qualifying notes

Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia Round 4 Qualifying Bira Race Circuit, Thailand June 11, 2005 Ramli Roars to Pole Position Jaseri Racing's Rizal Ashram Ramli stormed to pole position today for tomorrow's 20-lap Round 4 of the Porsche...

Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia
Round 4 Qualifying
Bira Race Circuit, Thailand
June 11, 2005

Ramli Roars to Pole Position

Jaseri Racing's Rizal Ashram Ramli stormed to pole position today for tomorrow's 20-lap Round 4 of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia at Thailand's 2.4km Bira Race Circuit. The Malaysian's blistering lap of 1:02.421 put him top of the times after the 30 minute session, although the fastest six drivers were all within a second of each other, such is the ferocity of the competition.

Local hero Charoensukhawatana Nattavude of China's SCC Racing Team and who currently leads the championship, was hot on Ramli's heals, followed by Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young of Hong Kong.

Ramli, who has been plagued by ill luck so far this season, is hoping his fortunes will change in Thailand, but is realistic about the challenge ahead: "I'm happy to be on pole, but it was really hard work!" he said, referring to the tight circuit. "There is almost zero opportunity to overtake on this track, so pole is a big bonus when it comes to the race. I like the circuit though, it's a driver's circuit and quite technical, and I particularly enjoy the chicane."

The 28-year-old former Formula 3 driver knows the hard-charging Nattavude alongside him on the grid is going to be a major factor come race day: "I've had experience of sitting behind Nattavude and he really knows how to defend his line -- professionally and correctly. I truly respect him and he knows absolutely what he is doing. It's that which I'm afraid of. If Nattavude gets in front of me, I'm done -- or almost done!" he declared.

Although the battle off the line between the two promises to be spectacular, there will be plenty of fast and equally-determined drivers raring to go behind them.

Hong Kong driver O'Young was also pleased with his qualifying session, having waited out the first few minutes. "Then I went for it right off the bat," he said. "I came in and switched tyres hoping to beat Ramli and Nattavude's times, but couldn't do it. It'll definitely be a tight race from front to back, the qualifying times are so close."

O'Young is also unconcerned about the possibility of encountering traffic early in the race on the short circuit: "The Class B drivers are getting so much faster with each and every outing. They're constantly looking at catching the Class A drivers and subsequently their times are dropping all the time."

Second quickest Thai driver, and 4th fastest overall, was Team Thailand's Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, currently 3rd in the championship.

However, as always, the racing will be close and on such a demanding track, all the drivers are well aware that anything can happen. Said reigning British GT Champion, Jonathan Cocker, who qualified 5th: "It's an easy track for drivers to make mistakes on. It's just a case of being there and then seeing what can be done." Cocker was the fastest rookie at the Thai track where experience counts for much: "We've definitely got the speed and every time out we go quicker," he said. "It's really track experience -- you need so much commitment on this circuit, knowing where the time is through the chicane, where the bumps are and where you can push -- it's priceless."

Taking pole for Class B was Patrick Ma, making his mark on his 2005 series debut, chased by William "Chip" Connor of Hong Kong and Team Thailand's Sontaya Kunplome. "I was lucky!" declared Ma. "I love it here and I like the track -- it's very demanding. I'm really happy to be back and hope I can stay ahead of the pack tomorrow."

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 to 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.

-afos-

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Darryl O'Young , Jonathan Cocker , Charoensukhawatana Nattavude , Sontaya Kunplome