AP: Series Sentul preview

Championship Battle to Continue as Indonesia Beckons As the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia revs up for the second half of its 2009 season, this month the impressive fleet of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racing cars heads to Indonesia's 3.9km Sentul...

Championship Battle to Continue as Indonesia Beckons

As the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia revs up for the second half of its 2009 season, this month the impressive fleet of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racing cars heads to Indonesia's 3.9km Sentul International circuit, located outside Jakarta, for two races from August 14-16.

With the race for the coveted championship titles ever more intense, the highest levels of commitment and consistency are demanded in the region's premier sportscar series.

One man keenly aware of this is current Class A points leader and 2007 champion Tim Sugden of GruppeM Racing. The Briton is the only driver to have finished each of the six races so far on the podium, earning himself a 13 point lead over nearest challenger Christian Menzel of Team StarChase.

Snapping at Sugden's heels both on track and in the points, the German is determined to this time clinch the title he lost last year by a mere two points to Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young.

At the last rounds in Zhuhai in June, Menzel retired from the first race with mechanical problems, the lost points dealing a powerful blow to his championship aspirations and relegating him from the top of the leaderboard. Expect the former Porsche Carrera Cup Germany champion and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup runner-up to be back with a vengeance in Indonesia.

Lying third in the championship is reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion O'Young. After an unlucky start to the season, the Team Jebsen ace has since set about working his way back into contention for a title defense, with two wins, two podium finishes and a pole position in the last four races. In Zhuhai, a track regulation infringement saw him lose his pole position -- and the valuable point that went with it -- but O'Young nevertheless continued his climb up the leaderboard and is now 26 points shy of the top spot.

In what is proving to be a brilliant Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series debut, Asia Racing Team's Rodolfo Avila proved he is already a force to be reckoned with after a superb maiden victory in Zhuhai, giving Macau its first ever series win. The 22-year-old is now 13 points behind two-time champion O'Young in this his first season of Porsche racing, having notched up two podium finishes and a pole position in addition to his win.

Team Kangshun's Ringo Chong, who made a welcome return to the series last year, is also making his mark this season. Although forced into retirement in Round 5, the Singapore racer has put in consistently good performances this season. Six points behind him is another youngster, Dutchman Danny Chu, 25, followed by Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei who just missed out on a podium in Round 5.

With Corum ThunderAsia Racing driver Melvin Choo absent from the last two races, Jacob & Co Racing's Philip Ma took full advantage of his knowledge of his "home" Zhuhai track to take the lead in Class B. After a maximum points haul, with two emphatic wins plus a pole position, the Hong Kong driver now leads Singaporean Choo by 29 points.

Third in Class B is Hong Kong's Mak Hing Tak with OMAK Team, racing in his first season of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. The enthusiastic driver is proving to be a quick study, having rebounded from an error during the first race in Zhuhai to land on the podium in race two.

Ebullient young Singaporean Yuey Tan has bounced back from an unlucky start to his debut season with consistently good finishes indicating very real potential.

Choo and Class A Team PCS Racing driver Mok Weng Sun, who were both absent for Rounds 5 and 6, are back with the series at Sentul.

The two rounds in Indonesia are part of the Asian Festival of Speed weekend.

With the first three race meetings taking place in Shanghai, Beijing and Zhuhai, the series moves outside of China for the first time this year.

Commenting on the first half of the 2009 season, Porsche Asia Pacific Motorsport Manager Christoph Choi says: "In the six races so far this season, we have had four different Class A winners. This demonstrates the breadth of talent amongst a field made up of that irresistible combination of experienced sportscar racers and exciting new talent. The racing in both Class A and B is both superb and fair, and the championships remain wide open. It's going to be a tremendous second half to the season."

-credit: pcc ap

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Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Darryl O'Young , Jeffrey Lee , Rodolfo Avila , Christian Menzel , Melvin Choo , Ringo Chong , Philip Ma , Mok Weng Sun