AP: Series Singapore qualifying report

Menzel Grabs Pole in Scorching Qualifying Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel of Germany snatched pole position for the Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia -- Singapore 2009 today in dramatic fashion, collecting a valuable series point and ...

Menzel Grabs Pole in Scorching Qualifying

Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel of Germany snatched pole position for the Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia -- Singapore 2009 today in dramatic fashion, collecting a valuable series point and closing the gap to points leader Tim Sugden of GruppeM Racing.

Sugden was second quickest on the 5.067km Marina Bay street circuit, having snatched provisional pole from Menzel a third of the way into the 30 minute session and holding it right up until the closing minutes. Reigning champion and last year's winner in Singapore Darryl O'Young of Team Jebsen was third fastest, still grappling to find an optimum set-up for the constantly-changing track conditions.

The two fastest guest drivers were SC Global Racing's Danny Watts, who will line up alongside O'Young for the start of tomorrow's 12-lap race, and New Zealand's Craig Baird of Team PCS Racing.

So close were the times by the end of the session that the top five drivers' quickest laps were all within just 0.644 of a second.

Asia Racing Team's Rodolfo Avila, who has already notched up two victories in this, his debut season, completes the third row of the grid, while another youngster, Dutchman Danny Chu, continues to improve each time out.

In Class B, it was Singapore's Melvin Choo of Corum ThunderAsia Racing who took pole, dramatically setting his best time on his last -- and only clear -- flying lap of the session. Second fastest in the category was points-leader Philip Ma of Jacob & Co Racing Team, while rookie Singapore's Yuey Tan of Team PCS Racing was third quickest.

Menzel threw down the gauntlet early on, clocking 2:22.743, a time not bettered until Sugden found a thousandth of a second to grab provisional pole. As the lap times dropped through the field, it looked as though the Briton had done enough to take pole and make up for his mistake of 12 months ago, which saw him stripped of the win after jumping the start.

However, the drama was not over, and with less than seven minutes of the session remaining, the red flag was brought out after a car stopped on the circuit.

The track cleared the cars roared back out on track, and Menzel was flying, with a near-perfect lap giving him a well-deserved pole.

Menzel admitted he was surprised to have taken the top spot, and it wasn't until he saw the P1 when he returned to the pits that he realised his last lap had bettered the rest: "I had done one lap with the new tyres, plus an in lap, then one more where the red flag came out, so I was surprised to have such good performance from them. The car was really good, and my team and engineer have done a fantastic job. It was really close to a perfect lap. It was clear this was my last chance, and every point is so very, very important. Now we must fight very hard (in the race)."

Choo was grateful he was able to get a clear lap, and relieved the stress of it coming in the closing seconds was over: "I was very fortunate. On the first lap Alain Li spun in front of me, and then I had a spin. I came in for new tyres, then we had the red flag. When I went out again, I knew I'd be lucky to get one or two laps in. Jeffrey Lee went wide, and I managed to get a clear lap -- on my final lap! I wish I'd had a few more shots at it. I really had to be careful (on that final lap), but I can't complain!"

Two drivers returning to the series after a year-long hiatus are Alain Li and Australian Peter Boylan, both charged with the task of quickly getting re-acquainted with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Li put in a stellar performance to clock the 8th fastest time, while Boylan suffered the setback of a puncture. Nevertheless, he was pleased to be back: "It's a challenge to get to grips with the car. The last time I raced it was here in Singapore a year ago. I'd like to have been further up the times, but I'm so glad to be here."

With strong Class A and B fields, and such fierce competition throughout the grid, the outcome of tomorrow's Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia -- Singapore 2009 is anyone's guess.

Supporting the Porsche 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 led to every new Porsche engine being filled with Mobil1 high-performance lubricant. Porsche 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 Carrera Cup Asia has emerged from a worldwide agreement signed between Porsche AG and the Michelin group.

-credit: pcc ap

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Peter Boylan , Darryl O'Young , Jeffrey Lee , Rodolfo Avila , Christian Menzel , Melvin Choo , Danny Watts , Alain Li , Philip Ma