Watts Takes Pole on Macau Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Debut Gates GR Asia's Danny Watts took pole position for the final round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia today with a time of 2:30.327, after an eventful qualifying session which was halted...
Watts Takes Pole on Macau Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Debut
Gates GR Asia's Danny Watts took pole position for the final round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia today with a time of 2:30.327, after an eventful qualifying session which was halted twice. The Briton, who is making his Macau sportscar debut this weekend, having previously competed here in single seaters, has been racing this year in the Carrera Cup Great Britain.
The 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, introduced to Asia in 2006, is also making its Macau debut this weekend. Watts and the ultra-fast Porsche managed to shave almost a second off last year's pole position time.
Second fastest at the end of the session was Tomo Racing's Shinichi Yamaji, followed by fellow countryman Keita Sawa of Cref Motorsports. Newly-crowned Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion, Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young could only manage fourth.
Said Watts: "I'm absolutely delighted. A lot of thanks to team manager Simon Leonard who has helped us get a good set up on the car in a very short time. It was a restricted session with yellow and red flags, but we got a decent lap in which made all the difference. It's great to be back on my favourite track where I've raced for the last three years in Formula 3 and in 2002 won the Formula Asia 2000 race. On Sunday I just want to get in to the first corner first because it's very hard to overtake on this circuit. Keep it clean and tidy and get to the chequered flag in front."
Yamaji, who competed in touring cars at Macau some years ago, said he was struck by the greatly-improved circuit, although he was slightly disappointed with the result of the session:"I was on another flying lap when the red flag came out. Had that not happened, I could have gone faster. The session wasn't as good as I expected, but I'm sure the race on Sunday will be great as I have a perfect car."
Sawa had predicted a drama-packed qualifying: "I knew there would be incidents, so I thought I must try to get in my quickest lap as early as possible. Before the first red flag, I was fastest and I thought I'd be on pole. During the break, I changed to a new set of tyres, however after the restart, there were so many yellow flags, and then the red flag, I didn't have the chance to make use of the new tyres."
O'Young, however, was less than impressed, saying: "I'm not pleased at all. The session was very disrupted. After my best lap, I never got a clear run from then on. The car was just warming up but unfortunately both yellow and red flags kept coming out and I couldn't improve my time. Having said that, second row is better than nothing. I just need to make a good start and not lose any more ground, stay out of trouble and not make any mistakes.Anything can happen at Macau and if I stay out of trouble I'm still in with a chance of winning."
In Class B, it was Ricardo Proost making his Guia Circuit debut who took pole, ahead of Max Chen and Peter Boylan. Said Proost: "I love street circuits because I had four years experience in rallying. Yesterday I didn't like the set up, and I got stuck in traffic. The mechanics fixed the set up over night and today was just perfect. I'm looking forward to winning the (Class B) race on Sunday."
The 30-minute qualifying session was incident-filled with the red flag halting the on-track action twice. The first came when Nattavude ended up in the barrier at Dona Maria bend after just over a third of the session had been run. When his car had been cleared from the unforgiving circuit, the session re-started with Yamaji clocking a blistering lap of 2:30.947 which was almost immediately bettered by Watts' pole time, just before the second red flag. This time it was Boylan who fell victim to one of the world's most demanding street circuits, however it was the resulting spilled coolant from the incident which brought out the red flag for the second time. The session was not restarted, with a little over six minutes to go, and the positions stood.
Round 12 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2006 season will be held on Sunday, November 19.