AP: Series Sepang finale qualifying report

Menzel Steps Closer to Title with Pole Position Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel moved one step closer to clinching the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title in Malaysia today, taking pole position for the penultimate round of the season,...

Menzel Steps Closer to Title with Pole Position

Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel moved one step closer to clinching the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title in Malaysia today, taking pole position for the penultimate round of the season, and laying down the gauntlet to his title rivals, Briton Tim Sugden and Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young.

Menzel clocked the quickest time of 1:05.882 on his third lap of the 2.807km Sepang International Circuit North Track and, despite being the only other driver to lap in under one minute, six seconds, Sugden could not better the time. The German also earned a valuable extra point for pole, increasing his lead over Sugden to seven points with two races to go.

O'Young was third fastest, with Team PCS Racing's Mok Weng Sun fourth. Asia Racing Team's Rodolfo Avila, currently fourth on the leaderboard in his debut season, will line up alongside Dutchman Danny Chu on the third row of the grid.

In Class B, it was Corum ThunderAsia Racing's Melvin Choo who took pole despite suffering an early setback when a stone got into his engine and broke the fan belt. Singapore's Yuey Tan was second quickest in the session in the category, with championship leader Philip Ma of Jacob & Co Racing Team third fastest.

Menzel set his fastest time at the start of the 30 minute session and never looked back. Having suffered a misfire in practice, the team worked frantically prior to qualifying to fix the problem, and Menzel is hoping it will not reoccur tomorrow during the two championship-deciding rounds.

He was thrilled to have taken pole, but keen to point out he and the team are taking nothing for granted: "I didn't expect to be on pole as Tim and Darryl are so good," he said. "That extra point will help me sleep easier. It was really important to me for Tim not to be on pole, but tomorrow is very important and we have a lot to do. I hope we can win the championship."

With two races of 20 laps each, it will be a big day, and Menzel is looking forward to a sporting season finale with his on-track rivals: "Twenty laps is very tough on tyre consumption. But I hope we are fair tomorrow. Now the season is very good and very fair, and I hope we finish like that."

Not even the chance of rain on race day was enough to suppress Menzel's enthusiasm: "Rain? Fantastic! It is good for the trees, good for the flowers, and good for me!" he declared.

For Sugden, famously tough on himself, second was once again just not good enough, particularly with the championship battle so tight but despite not having his engineer this weekend: "I went as quick as I could. I just couldn't make it go any faster."

O'Young was also despondent: "I tried everything, and did all I could," he said. "The car was near-perfect, perhaps with a little understeer. It's disappointing, but it's going to be a close one tomorrow."

For Class B pole sitter Choo, it was mixed emotions: "My fan belt broke after my first stint. I'm torn as, yes it's great to be on pole, but I lacked four, five, six tenths so I'm terribly disappointed not to be up there. It just means I have work really hard tomorrow!"

For five of the of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers, there will be championship honours at stake tomorrow, but the entire field will be looking to end what has been a superb seventh season with a good result. Rounds 12 and 13 promise to be both memorable and spectacular.

-credit: prplus

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