AP: New category added

Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia New Category Perfect Choice for Non-Professional Racers With its level playing field of identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, comprehensive service package, and professional technical and mechanical support,...

Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia
New Category Perfect Choice for Non-Professional Racers

With its level playing field of identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, comprehensive service package, and professional technical and mechanical support, the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia typifies the very best in sportsmanship and race craft.

However, non-professional racing drivers who believe the series is exclusively the domain of full-time, professional competitors could not be more wrong.

At the beginning of last season, a new division was introduced within the series which offered non-professional drivers a two-fold opportunity: To compete for victory in their own category, and an opportunity to learn from the best sportscar specialists in Asia.

Since its introduction, the category, known as Class B, has ensured that each round of the series features two, equally hard-fought battles, with the drivers in the class now closing in on the Class A pilots, with their laps times falling and skills increasing with each event.

But what makes the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia the optimum choice for a non-professional race car driver? For Hong Kong's Alain Li, who was enticed back to the sport by the series after a six year absence, there are several reasons.

"I first heard about the series about two years ago from a friend in the UK," said Li, who currently tops the Class B leaderboard. "I first saw the race in Shanghai last year (where the series was a supporting event to China's first ever Formula One Grand Prix), and thought it looked good. It goes to attractive locations, but what's really appealing is the whole package. It is one of the most professional packages available for non-professional racers today."

Li also believes that the high-caliber of the professional drivers Class A attracts is an added bonus: "You've got some very, very good drivers in the series. Drivers such as (Reigning British GT Champion) Jonathan Cocker joining is of benefit to everyone. But the series is good for anyone who enjoys their own racing. You can improve your racing skills - get a measure of how good you are and then get better. I know I improved in just two races. In fact, the whole Class is getting quicker all the time, and closer to the Class A drivers."

As well as Cocker, the strong Class A field includes many drivers from whom non-professionals can learn much, such as: Reigning champion Matthew Marsh; multiple-title holder and motorsport veteran Charoensukhawatana Nattavude; former European Formula 3 pilot and Malaysian hero Rizal Ramli; up-and-coming Thai star Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak; and talented youngster Darryl O'Young of Hong Kong.

The Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia has also seen several famous names join fray in VIP appearances. Hong Kong celebrity Aaron Kwok, Taiwanese actor and singer -- and accomplished amateur racer - Jimmy Lin, XGames hero Travis Pastrana, former Formula 1 pilot Alex Yoong of Malaysia, China's most accomplished lady driver Rose Tan, and Hong Kong Formula 1 hopeful Marchy Lee, have all joined the exciting action.

Li's fellow Class B competitor, William E. "Chip" Connor, who made his Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia debut in two, one-off races last year and has joined the series full time for the 2005 season, echoes Li's sentiments. Connor earned his racing license through competing in vintage automobiles and had never raced a modern car until China last year. With characteristic energy and exuberance, Connor is keen to emphasize his age (which, without revealing the exact number, is more than double that of the youngest competitor in the field) to illustrate the fact that at any stage of life, enthusiasts can be competitive, learn new skills, consistently improve their performances and, just as importantly, enjoy the exhilaration of racing.

But, like Li, it is the whole Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia race package which he finds so attractive. The "arrive-and-drive" concept and professional partners mean drivers have a perfectly prepared car, a team of Asia's finest and most skilled mechanics and technicians, hospitality, accommodation, transfers -- and just about everything else needed to ensure a perfect weekend of motorsport competition -- ready for their arrival.

In Asia's animated economic environment, time is often more precious than gold, which makes the whole Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia race package all the more attractive. Not to have to concern themselves with hiring mechanics, logistics, spare parts, or any of the other peripheral but necessary aspects of the sport, frees up the competitors to concentrate on the core element of the sport -- racing.

It also must be said that this is not a series for those who prefer tinkering with their racing machines and spending vast sums on gadgets and technological enhancements. The series is for true sportsmen and women who wish to compete on the basis of skill alone, and to improve their skills with each and every outing.

Said Connor: "It's the organisation which gives a turn-key opportunity for non-professional drivers in a world-class environment," he says. "The circumstances are geared to make us all better drivers. For a non-professional, it offers what nothing else does -- a level of racing which makes it a world-class event."

For Thailand's Sontaya Kunplome, participation in the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia is a real joy, partly because of his tireless resolve to increase the significance and profile of motorsport in his native country, but also because the sport has been a passion of his from a very early age.

"I love motorsport!" he says. "When I was very young I had a bicycle, then a motorbike, and then a kart. I began competing while I was at University in rallying, which I did for five or six years. After that, I would go to watch racing whenever I could. In the last two years, my friend (and fellow Team Thailand competitor) Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak asked me if I was interested in the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia and I raced as a VIP guest in Thailand twice. Now I have a little more time, I am able to join for a full season."

Philip Ma, one of Asia's most experienced racing drivers and the man who first put forward the idea of a class of their own for the non-professional racers, perfectly summed up the lure of a series which has set new benchmarks in the professionalism of Asian racing: "It's very attractive -- highly competitive and a great package."

As well as providing a comprehensive race package, and impressive regional media and broadcast coverage, the series visits a wide variety of venues throughout the season. This year, following a testing session in February, the season proper got underway as a support race to the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix. This month, two further rounds were held at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, and in June the series moves to Thailand's Bira Circuit in Pattaya. From there, the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia will visit Beijing's Goldenport Circuit, followed by a stop at South Korea's Taebaek race track, before supporting its second Formula One Grand Prix of the year in Shanghai. The season grand finale will be part of the Macau Grand Prix weekend in November.

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.

-porsche.asia-

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Alex Yoong , Travis Pastrana , Rizal Ramli , Darryl O'Young , Charoensukhawatana Nattavude , Sontaya Kunplome , Matthew Marsh , Marchy Lee , Aaron Kwok , Alain Li , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung