AP: Series Zhuhai qualifying report

Menzel and Ma on Pole in Zhuhai Championship leader Christian Menzel of Team StarChase took pole position for Round 5 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia tomorrow at the Zhuhai International Circuit, after Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young was ...

Menzel and Ma on Pole in Zhuhai

Championship leader Christian Menzel of Team StarChase took pole position for Round 5 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia tomorrow at the Zhuhai International Circuit, after Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young was dramatically stripped of his pole- setting lap time for a track regulation infringement following the session.

The Hong Kong racer had clocked a lap of 1:39.951, just over three hundredths of a second quicker than Menzel's best, but his two quickest laps were forfeit under the infringement penalty, dropping him to third on the grid.

Macau's Rodolfo Avila of Asia Racing team, currently 3rd on the leaderboard, will start the first of tomorrow's two 12-lap races alongside Menzel, with O'Young and GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden making up the second row.

In Class B, Hong Kong's Philip Ma of Jacob & Co Racing showed his mastery of the Zhuhai track, setting a pole-setting time of 1:42.975, ahead of Mak Hing Tak of OMAK Racing and Team PCS Racing's Yuey Tan.

In searing temperatures, Avila set the early pace in the 30-minute session, but Menzel was the first to lap in less than one minute 41 seconds taking provisional pole. However, O'Young threw down the gauntlet on his 5th lap out, bettering the German's time.

As the lap times dropped across the field, GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden was also on a charge, and the top four were separated by less than a second with five minutes of the session remaining.

However, not satisfied with his earlier pole-setting time, O'Young was out of the pits and back out on track looking for that perfect lap, finding it with a scorching time of 1:39.941.

It was not to be though, and Menzel collected the extra point awarded for pole position. Said the German: "It's a fantastic situation now! Yesterday (during practice) I felt it was a little bit too slow, but we were getting better with each lap, so I expected we would be fast enough today for pole position. We have the extra point now. It's the best position possible. I am very optimistic for tomorrow's race. If I can get around the first corner without too much trouble, I think I can control the race."

Although familiar with the Zhuhai circuit, having raced here many times partly due to its proximity to his home in Macau, this weekend is Avila's first experience of the 4.3km track in a Porsche: "It's very different," he said. "In Zhuhai I have only ever driven Formula cars, and here the braking point is 30 metres earlier at every turn, so it takes a little adjust to. I feel like I have learned a little bit in qualifying, and I think tomorrow, with the cars in front of me, I will have an incentive to push a little more and keep up with them."

Sugden, now trailing Menzel in the championship by seven points, was frustrated after the session: "I don't honestly know what went wrong. The car was great yesterday but on the new set of tyres today it was not as good. I'm not sure if there's something wrong with the car or maybe I over-drove slightly. I'm disappointed to be 4th to say the least, but the races are the races."

In Class B, Ma was delighted with his impressive pole-setting lap time: "The session went well, and my target is to improve my lap time as it is my home track. I am half a second quicker than yesterday so I am happy," he said. With Class B points leader Melvin Choo absent this weekend, it is a chance for Ma to make headway on the leaderboard and chip away at his rival's 12 point lead: "I will drive my race as usual, but I shall focus on championship points tomorrow which are more important, so I won't be taking too many risks."

Despite having a spin, Mak was pleased with his qualifying outing, but admitted he was still finding the limits: "I was trying to push hard in the session and that was my flying lap, however I braked too late at Turn 4 and spun. The series is really competitive and you're wet from head to ankle after a session!"

Making his Zhuhai debut, Yuey Tan admitted there was work to do before tomorrow's races but was characteristically upbeat: "I am disappointed because there is so much understeer. Maybe we made the wrong decision (on set up), but we know the problem and can fix it. This is my first time racing in Zhuhai, it is a beautiful city, the circuit is good, fast, hard on brakes, and it's fun!"

Rounds 5 and 6 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be run over 12 laps each of the Zhuhai International Circuit tomorrow (June 21).

-credit: pcc ap

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Darryl O'Young , Rodolfo Avila , Christian Menzel , Melvin Choo , Philip Ma