AP: Series Singapore preview

Watts and Baird Set to Mix it Up in Singapore If ever a cat -- or cats - were set among the pigeons, the addition of super-quick Briton Danny Watts and New Zealand's Craig Baird to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia grid in Singapore later this...

Watts and Baird Set to Mix it Up in Singapore

If ever a cat -- or cats - were set among the pigeons, the addition of super-quick Briton Danny Watts and New Zealand's Craig Baird to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia grid in Singapore later this month is certain to rev up the already-furious competition. As the region's premier sportscar series gears up for the Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia -- Singapore 2009 race, part of the Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix weekend from September 25-27, a truly spectacular field prepares to tackle the Marina Bay street circuit.

Watts, who has been recruited by race title sponsor, leading Singapore luxury property developer SC Global Developments, is no stranger to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia nor street circuits, having won at the Macau Grand Prix in 2006. The A1 GP Great Britain driver brings a wealth of experience, from his early career in single seaters as a national champion through to the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, British GT Championship, Le Mans 24 Hours, Le Mans Series, Petit Le Mans, and American Le Mans.

New Zealand's Craig Baird makes his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia debut in Singapore with Team Porsche Club Singapore (PCS) Racing. Multiple championship winner Baird, like Watts, began his career in open wheelers, winning three national titles before doing the same in touring cars. Several seasons on the Australian V8Supercar Championship Series followed, as well as an impressive number of title wins in the New Zealand Porsche GT3 Championship and Australian Porsche Carrera Cup.

There is no doubt the regular series drivers will welcome the added competition, although their arrival is certain to add to the already nail-biting contest for valuable championship points. The series sees both the professional Class A and non-professional Class B drivers in the midst of electrifying battles, with both titles wide open and the top four drivers overall separated by just 33 points.

Briton Tim Sugden of GruppeM Racing, champion in 2007, has the overall lead and is the only driver to have reached the podium in each of the first eight races. He took the first win of the season, and followed up that success with second and third-place finishes in Shanghai, Beijing and Zhuhai in China, and in Indonesia.

In addition to building his points advantage, Sugden has a score to settle in Singapore. Last year he took pole position and crossed the line first in the race, only to be penalized for a jump- start which handed the victory to reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Darryl O'Young.

Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel, second in the points, is keen to further close the gap to Sugden. In Indonesia last month, Menzel took pole position, one win and one second-place finish, earning him a near-maximum points haul for the two races. The German is determined to this time clinch his first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title, after missing out by just two points in 2008.

Team Jebsen driver O'Young, winner in Singapore last year, lies third in the standings having had an unlucky start to the season. A force to be reckoned with on any street circuit, the team will be looking for an advantage on the Marina Bay track.

In what is proving to be a brilliant Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series debut, Asia Racing Team's Rodolfo Avila continues to prove he is a serious title contender with five podium finishes thus far, including two victories, the 22-year old from Macau is just three points behind two-time champion O'Young. Experience on his home track, the Guia street circuit, should stand him in good stead as he makes his Marina Bay debut.

Dutch driver Danny Chu of Stitching Chu Racing rounds out the top five, while Chinese Taipei's Jeffrey Lee competes in Class A with PTRS Motorsport.

The field boasts in impressive contingent of racers and teams from Singapore. Team PCS fields Singapore Class B driver Yuey Tan, who recently made headlines by racing his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car against a Boeing 747 plane at Changi Airport -- and winning! Joining him on the team in Class A are Baird and Mok Weng Sun.

Also gearing up for their home race are Singapore's Ringo Chong, racing for Team Kangshun in Class A, and Corum ThunderAsia Racing's Melvin Choo currently second in the Class B standings.

Jacob & Co Racing driver Philip Ma of Hong Kong leads the chase for the Class B title after an impressive season so far which has put him sixth overall. Ma's compatriot, Mak Ting Hak of OMAK racing also competes in Class B.

The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia gives a warm welcome to some series regulars who have not competed on a full-time basis this season: Reigning Class B champion, Malaysia's Tunku Hammam, who, by virtue of his stellar performance last season is promoted to the ranks of the Class A professionals; 2005 Class B champion Alain Li of Hong Kong joins him in the category; and Australian Peter Boylan, runner up in Class B in 2007, is also back on the grid in the Lion City.

The race in support of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix is among the highlights of the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia calendar, which saw the first our meetings take place in the Chinese cities of Shanghai (where it was on the undercard of the 2009 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix), Beijing and Zhuhai, and in Indonesia.

Commenting on the upcoming Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia -- Singapore 2009, Porsche Asia Pacific Motorsport Manager Christoph Choi says: "We're extremely excited to be a part of the 2009 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. Last year, the racing on the Marina Bay Circuit was outstanding. The circuit, the atmosphere and the many fans provide an unforgettable racing experience and with such a competitive grid in 2009, this is a race is going to be nothing short of spectacular."

-credit: pcc ap

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Craig Baird , Tim Sugden , Peter Boylan , Darryl O'Young , Jeffrey Lee , Rodolfo Avila , Christian Menzel , Melvin Choo , Alain Li , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung , Ringo Chong , Mok Weng Sun