AP: Sepang round one qualifying notes

O'Young Clinches Pole for Hong Kong & Team Jebsen The 2006 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series well and truly got underway today with a scorching qualifying session which saw 25-year-old Darryl O'Young take the inaugural pole of the year for Hong...

O'Young Clinches Pole for Hong Kong & Team Jebsen

The 2006 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series well and truly got underway today with a scorching qualifying session which saw 25-year-old Darryl O'Young take the inaugural pole of the year for Hong Kong's Team Jebsen. In searing temperatures, seventeen of the pristine new 997-based Porsche 911 GT Cup racing cars presented an awesome sight as they took to the Sepang International Circuit in front of the Formula One crowd. Qualifying times were an indication of just how close the competition is, with the top five drivers all qualifying within a single second.

Second and third fastest respectively after the 30 minute session were vastly-experienced Japanese newcomers Keita Sawa of Cref Motorsports and Shinichi Yamaji of Tomo Racing.

Said a thrilled O'Young: "Everything was perfect. I'm feeling extremely confident and driving the best I have ever done. Team Jebsen has been together for three years now, and we all work really well together. This is the result of all of that work. There's a lot more international competition in the field this year, so it's great to put Hong Kong in the number one position!" However, despite feeling confident, O'Young was also cautious: "This is a small victory right now. There's a lot of work ahead in the race."

Sawa, although being pleased with the results, was very clear as to his intentions: "I entered the series this year to be champion. I have to win the title and nothing less." Both Sawa and compatriot Yamaji have experience of racing on the 5.6km Sepang International Circuit.

Fourth quickest was Briton Nigel Albon in the new Team Vertu car: "The MOTEC data logging system is very helpful. We've been studying the data and looking to see where we can gain that extra tenth. I take my hat off to Darryl though for a brilliant job. It's going to be a thoroughly entertaining race for me at the front of the grid, and the spectators can look forward to a tremendous show."

Matthew Marsh, champion in 2004 and racing for Gates GR Asia this season, was 5th fastest followed by SCC Racing's Nattavude Charoensukhawatana of Thailand.

Series newcomer and Yamaji's Tomo Racing team mate, Kazuyuki Nishizawa, will start from 7th on the grid, ahead of Hong Kong's Alain Li competing for the first time in Class A. D/G SCC Racing's Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak is still getting used to the new brake system, so there is much more to come from the talented Thai.

In Class B, it was Max Chen of Taiwan who topped the times, returning to the series after a one year absence. Despite a spin, Chen still set the fastest lap in the category and was delighted to be back with the series. Like most of the field, Chen is still getting to grips with the new race car, but all the drivers are enjoying the experience. Said Chen: "I can tell the car has lots of potential. It's just a matter of finding how to best use it." Hong Kong's Chip Connor and Philip Ma were 2nd and 3rd fastest respectively.

Class B newcomers were feeling their way with the car, the circuit and the series, but received a warm welcome from the Class B regulars. Toshiya Ichiraku of Japan, and the Australian pair of Peter Boylan and Rusty French were joined by Thailand's Ricardo Proost who, despite a spin which finished his session early, was looking forward to the race itself.

Round 1 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be held this afternoon over 10 laps, with the second round to be held tomorrow morning prior to the start of the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.

-porsche.asia-

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Series Porsche
Drivers Shinichi Yamaji , Kazuyuki Nishizawa , Keita Sawa , Peter Boylan , Charoensukhawatana Nattavude , Matthew Marsh , Rusty French , Alain Li , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung