AP: Beijing round five qualifying notes

O'Young Continues Charge with Beijing Pole Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young continued his impressive form taking pole position for Round 5 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in Beijing this weekend, fresh from two victories in Malaysia last month and...

O'Young Continues Charge with Beijing Pole

Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young continued his impressive form taking pole position for Round 5 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in Beijing this weekend, fresh from two victories in Malaysia last month and armed with a 12 point lead in the championship standings.

The 30-minute qualifying session on Beijing's physically and mentally demanding 2.3km Goldenport Circuit was drama-filled with fellow Hong Kong driver Matthew Marsh racing with Gates GR Asia and supported by Michelin, taking provisional pole during the session, and a last-minute charge from SCC Racing's Nattavude Charoensukhawatana threatening to topple O'Young off his perch!

At the end of the session, O'Young's lap of 1:06.176 was enough to secure pole, but he will start tomorrow's 20-lap race with the hard-charging Thai veteran Nattavude hot on his heels.

Marsh was third fastest in the session, followed by Cref Motorsports' Keita Sawa, an impressive result on his Beijing debut.

Team Vertu's Nigel Albon on Britain was 5th fastest having been second behind O'Young for part of the session, while Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, Nattavude's team mate in China's SCC Racing outfit was 6th. Both Thai drivers will be looking for good results tomorrow on their team's home ground.

Shinichi Yamaji, who is second on the Class A leaderboard going in to the next rounds and has been quick all season so far, winning Round 2, was confounded by his times which saw him down in 9th. However, the highly experienced Tomo Racing driver will no doubt be back on form come race day.

Said O'Young: "It's great to be on pole. In qualifying, even 1,000th of a second is crucial. I'm in the best position, but this is a tough track and a fierce field, but I'm confident of a win. I feel it's great that Nattavude is back on form!"

Nattavude was his usual reticent self after yet again pulling the rabbit from the hat at the last moment: "I used new tyres, which I hadn't originally planned, and on a bit higher pressure which worked. However, I don't know about long term, but I will do the same for the race. Of course, it will also depend on the weather conditions."

Marsh was pleased with his grid position, although admitted that no racing driver is ever satisfied with less than pole: "The problem is you've got so many good drivers in the field that it's easy to be back in 5th or 6th and still be really quick. There's absolutely no hanging about out there!

I'm pleased my time was there and, with Michelin's China HQ in Beijing and a lot of people turning up tomorrow, it would have been a bit embarrassing if I wasn't somewhere near the front."

In Class B, Australian Geoff Morgan, category winner of Round 3, took pole position ahead of Max Chen of Chinese Taipei. Said Morgan of his impressive China debut: "The (EKS Motorsport) crew did a great job on the car. It's a difficult track but the three of us (fellow Australians Rusty French and Peter Boylan) have been discussing the circuit, and the crew have helped. I'm used to new tracks and my strategy is to take it slowly. I've also been talking to the other drivers, particularly in Class A, and they've been great. That's what I really like about this series, that everyone is so helpful. I have to say the track is difficult, tight and unforgiving."

Max Chen was second fastest in Class B, and admitted that a crash during practice earlier this week has dented his confidence. "I'm a little disappointed. I tried to save my fastest lap to the last, but Ricardo (Proost) spun in front of me. I'm sure my experience of this circuit will help me when it comes to the race though."

Fumihiko Watanabe, making his series debut, was third quickest in the Class, followed by Hong Kong's Philip Ma. Rusty French, who tops the Class B points table going in to Round 5, was 5th quickest in the category.

-Porsche Carrera Cup Asia

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Series Porsche
Drivers Shinichi Yamaji , Keita Sawa , Peter Boylan , Geoff Morgan , Darryl O'Young , Matthew Marsh , Rusty French , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung , Nattavude Charoensukhawatana