AP: Sepang rounds 3, 4 preview

Scorching Races Predicted for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Malaysian Return If the Asian debut of the 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in March was anything to go by, all predictions point to more sizzling on-track action as region's finest...

Scorching Races Predicted for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Malaysian Return

If the Asian debut of the 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in March was anything to go by, all predictions point to more sizzling on-track action as region's finest sportscar racers return to Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit for Rounds 3 and 4 of the 12-race 2006 season on May 14.

Japanese newcomer Shinichi Yamaji of Tomo Racing and Hong Kong's Darryl O'Young for Team Jebsen took a Class A win apiece in the opening rounds, official support races to the 2006 Formula 1TM Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix in March, and Yamaji leads O'Young at the top of the leaderboard by just two points on 36 by virtue of his podium finish in the first race.

However, snapping at the heels of the highly-experienced Yamaji and young-gun O'Young are spectacular veteran racer Charoensukhawatana Nattavude of Thailand, who missed out on the championship title by just one point last year, and Team Vertu's Nigel Albon of Great Britain, equal third in the standings with 30 points apiece.

Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion in 2004, Matthew Marsh, returns with Gates GR Asia having notched up a podium finish in the second round which puts him fifth on the leaderboard ahead of Japan's Kazuyuki Nishizawa, Yamaji's Tomo Racing team mate.

Thailand's Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak could well be one to watch having admitted, like several drivers, to taking time getting used to the new 997-based Porsche. Nattavude's protege is expected to return to the front of the field once he feels 100% comfortable with the new features, particularly the sequential gearbox.

In this truly international field, Dilantha Malagamuwa of Sri Lanka got his season off to a solid start, while Cref Motorsports' Keita Sawa suffered an early blow to his title campaign when he failed to finish Round 2.

Hong Kong's Alain Li, who has moved up to Class A in 2006, following his phenomenal Class B title win last season after a six-year absence from the sport, failed to finish the opening round after a coming together with Malagamuwa. However Li, who had qualified an excellent 8th for Round 1 in the highly-experienced field, skillfully fought his way from the back of the grid in the second race to finish a creditable 9th.

In Class B, another newcomer from Japan, Toshiya Ichiraku, tops the table two points ahead of William "Chip" Connor of Hong Kong and Australian Rusty French. Max Chen of Taiwan, returning to the series after a one-year absence, is expected to be right back on form for the next rounds having suffered a setback in Round 2 when he failed to finish. Likewise Ricardo Proost, racing for Thailand and competing in a full season for the first time this year, is predicted to be on the pace having finished on the Class B podium in Round 2.

Commented Porsche Asia Pacific Project Manager Motorsport, Michael Dreiser: "It's going to be hard to tell which is hotter - the track surface or the level of competition. All our drivers are true sportsmen, but this year the atmosphere is far and away the most competitive yet, which is translating into some unbelievable racing. With an almost equal number of drivers in each Class, we're giving spectators not one memorable battle in each round, but two!"

Rounds 3 and 4 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia are part of the Asian Festival of Speed weekend at Sepang International Circuit.

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 runs as part of the Asian Festival of Speed, organised by Malaysian-based Motorsport Asia Limited.

-afos-

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Shinichi Yamaji , Keita Sawa , Dilantha Malagamuwa , Matthew Marsh , Rusty French , Alain Li