AP: Malaysia Saturday notes

All Comes Together for Cocker in Qualifying Things all finally came together for reigning British GT Champion Jonathan Cocker today, when he took pole position for Round 2 of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia. The GruppeM Racing driver...

All Comes Together for Cocker in Qualifying

Things all finally came together for reigning British GT Champion Jonathan Cocker today, when he took pole position for Round 2 of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia. The GruppeM Racing driver set a time of 1:07.030 on the shortened 2.8km Sepang International Circuit, with Thailand's Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak and Malaysia's Rizal Ramli in hot pursuit.

"It's good -- I'm pleased. This is how it should be," said the 18-year-old Briton, referring to his disappointing outing in the opening round of the series where he finished 5th. "But the race is a whole different challenge again. I need to put my head down and think about it, but not too much as that would be cursing it a bit. Actually, I don't want to change anything!"

Team Thailand's Vutthikorn was more than delighted -- and even more than a little surprised - with his second position on the grid: "I wanted to set my quickest lap during my first five flying laps," he said. "On the third lap, I had a problem with the radiator, but I kept going and put my foot down. When I came in to the pit, my mechanics told me that was the end of my session and I had no idea where I was on the timing sheet." He was understandably thrilled to discover that that crucial third lap had been enough keep him in second position.

Vutthikorn also welcomed the change in the format running on the shortened version of the Sepang circuit. "I like the track a lot. My home circuit, Bira, is smaller and tighter, so I'm more suited to this than big Grand Prix tracks."

Malaysia's Rizal Ramli starts from third on the grid tomorrow for his Jaseri Racing Team, rounding off the top three in Class A.

Reigning Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia champion Matthew Marsh was disappointed with his 5th fastest time, especially as he has consistently put his A-Ha Racing Team car on the front row of the grid since Beijing last year.

South Korea's Gene Lee, making his series debut this weekend, put in an encouraging performance during qualifying, setting the 9th fastest time. Lee is adapting quickly to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, and is obviously a real sportscar talent.

In Class B, meanwhile, it was once again series newcomer Alain Li of Hong Kong who took pole position ahead of William "Chip" Connor, Li's fellow Hong Kong driver Philip Ma, and Vutthikorn's Team Thailand partner, Sontaya Kunplome.

"I was hoping to do better than my best time in practice," said Li. "I wanted to get into the mid-1:08 seconds, but I missed it by three tenths. I'm still delighted to be here." Commenting on the shortened track he said: "The last corner is quite challenging. I still have lots to learn about it, but we have more laps so there are more opportunities to learn."

With the close qualifying times - less than one second separating the top nine drivers -- some of the closest racing the series has seen so far is definitely on the cards for tomorrow's two, 20-lap rounds.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of excitement off the track as well as on today as the new 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, which will take to the region's race tracks from the start of the 2006 season, made its Malaysian debut at Sepang International Circuit. The car was unveiled by the head of Malaysia's Porsche importer and Chairman of Sepang International Circuit, Dato' Mokhzani Mahathir, and Porsche Asia Pacific Regional Marketing Manager, Dr. Henrik Dreier. The presentation was also attended by many media and guests from Malaysia and across Asia.

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

The Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia runs as part of the Asian Festival of Speed, organised by Malaysian-based Motorsport Asia Limited.

<pre> Round 2 Qualifying

Pos. Comp# Driver                               Cls Entrant              Time
1    38    Jonathan COCKER (GBR)                A   GruppeM Racing       1:07.030
2    18    Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK (THA)      A   Team Thailand        1:07.336
3    55    Rizal Ashram RAMLI (MAS)             A   Jaseri Racing Team   1:07.342
4    20    Danny WATTS* (GBR)                   A   Porsche Asia Pacific 1:07.422
5     1    Matthew MARSH (HKG)                  A   A-Ha Racing          1:07.436
6    36    C. NATTAVUDE (THA)                   A   SCC Racing Team      1:07.493
7    88    Darryl O' YOUNG (HKG)                A   Team Jebsen          1:07.560
8    89    Nigel ALBON (GBR)                    A   Eurokars Racing      1:07.654
9    21    Gene LEE* (KOR)                      A   Porsche Asia Pacific 1:07.904
10    6    Dilantha MALAGAMUWA (JPN)            A   AI Racing            1:08.225
11   11    Alain LI (HKG)                       B   Alain Li             1:08.852
12    8    William E. CONNOR II (HKG)           B   William E. Connor II 1:09.288
13   98    Philip MA (HKG)                      B   Philip Ma            1:09.729
14   28    Sontaya KUNPLOME (THA)               B   Team Thailand        1:11.294

*Non series registered.

-prplus-

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Series Porsche
Drivers Rizal Ramli , Jonathan Cocker , Sontaya Kunplome , Matthew Marsh , Alain Li , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung