Asia: Series 2009 season preview

Brilliant Line Up and Impressive Calendar Herald New Season Reigning, former and potential champions join new faces for this season's dazzling crop of Porsche Carrera Cup Asia talent and, with one of the most exciting race calendars in the ...

Brilliant Line Up and Impressive Calendar Herald New Season

Reigning, former and potential champions join new faces for this season's dazzling crop of Porsche Carrera Cup Asia talent and, with one of the most exciting race calendars in the series' history, the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is all set for a seventh sensational season.

Reigning Class A Champion Darryl O'Young of Hong Kong is back, with a mission to clinch an unprecedented third Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title with Team Jebsen.

However, an intense battle is on the cards between 2006 and 2008 champion O'Young, 2007 champion Tim Sugden of GruppeM Racing, and 2008 title runner-up Christian Menzel of Team StarChase. With Germany's Menzel missing out on the championship by a mere two points last season after a nail-biting title-decider in Bahrain, with Briton Sugden finishing third, the trio are guaranteed to have spectators on the edge of their seats all year.

The race is on too between the China Porsche dealerships, with Team Jebsen, which has Porsche Centres in Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing, defending their title from Team StarChase of Nanjing, GruppeM Racing of Qingdao, and Team Kangshun of Wuhan, which is again fielding Singapore's Ringo Chong. China is now the third largest market for Porsche, with 7,615 cars sold there last year, and the four race meetings there on the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup calendar reflect the importance of the world's most dynamic economy.

While this guarantees plenty of thrills and spills, some exciting new faces are sure to provide plenty of surprises this year.

Rodolfo Avila of Macau makes his debut with the series driving for Asia Racing Team. The 22-year-old began his career in karts, before going on to clinch the Asian and China Formula Renault Challenge titles. He competed in first Asian and then British Formula 3, and International Formula Masters, before making a successful switch to sportscars last year.

Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei will contest his first full Porsche Carrera Cup Asia this season, having joined the series after the opening rounds last year. Lee, racing with PTRS Motorsport, is another driver who started out in single seaters, competing in Formula 2000 Asia, Formula 3 Australia and Formula V6 Asia.

Indonesian talent Danny Chu will be one to watch this year as he capitalizes on the experience gained during his debut season in 2008. Mok Weng Sun of Team PCS Racing returns for his second year in Class A having won Class B in 2007. Also returning to Class A is Dilantha Malagamuwa, who finished seventh in 2008. Malagamuwa has competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia since 2004, and the talented Sri Lankan will be looking to improve on his overall standing in the 2009 season.

After losing out on the Class B title in the final race of the 2008 season, Corum ThunderAsia Racing's Melvin Choo is looking to avenge his loss with a strong challenge in 2009. Facing Choo will be Hong Kong's Philip Ma with Jacob & Co Racing and Singapore's Yuey Tan, competing in his first full season of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia after getting a taste for the series with three races in 2008. Tan is the second Team PCS Racing entrant, along with Class A's Mok, while Hong Kong sports and touring car racer Mak Hing Tak makes his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Class B debut this season.

Seasoned professionals and newcomers alike will get their seasons underway at the Official Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Test Days at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia from February 27 to March 1.

The fleet of identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars will be race-ready having been prepared by the crack team at EKS Motorsport, and the drivers will take the impressive race cars through their paces on the Sepang track, host of the Malaysian round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia begins in April, with the opening races held as part of the 2009 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, the first of two occasions when the series will support the prestigious world championship this year.

In May, the series makes a welcome return to Beijing's Goldenport Circuit for an entire weekend dedicated to Porsche. Returning to China's capital city, triumphant host to the Beijing Olympics last year, will be a highpoint on the calendar and will provide many of the more recent additions to the field with a brand new challenge.

Having raced on China's Eastern Seaboard and in the nation's capital, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia next moves to Southern China's Zhuhai International Circuit in June as part of the Pan Delta Super Racing Festival.

In July, the series will be part of the Asian Festival of Speed weekend at Indonesia's Sentul International Circuit. The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia made a successful Indonesian debut in 2006 and has been a fixture on the calendar ever since.

Last year, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia helped make motorsport history as Singapore hosted its first modern Formula One Grand Prix, the first ever night Grand Prix, on the stunning Marina Bay Street Circuit. The Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia -- Singapore 2008 was a triumphant addition to the extraordinary race weekend. This year, Porsche Asia Pacific is delighted to once again partner SC Global Developments for this unique event at the 2009 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix on September 27.

Returning to China for the penultimate meeting of 2009, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will once again take to the Shanghai International Circuit in October as part of a China Formula Open/Asian Festival of Speed weekend, before the final rounds in November, the venue for which will be announced at a later date.

Commented Porsche Asia Pacific's Manager Motorsport, Christoph Choi: "We are delighted to unveil this exciting line-up for the 2009 season. It represents a mixture of prestigious race weekends, where we support two rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship in Shanghai and Singapore, as well as meetings which will give our drivers plenty of track time on some of Asia's finest circuits. We believe this represents the best of both worlds for our drivers and our partners, as well as superb opportunities for all the fans to come and see some incredible racing."

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.

The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is organised and promoted by Malaysian based Motorsport Asia Ltd.

-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