AP: Series 2008 season review

Six of the Best for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia In its sixth season the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, celebrated new milestones; it was there as motorsport history was made, spread its wings yet further, and fielded arguably the most exciting field...

Six of the Best for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia

In its sixth season the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, celebrated new milestones; it was there as motorsport history was made, spread its wings yet further, and fielded arguably the most exciting field in its history. From Shanghai to Indonesia to Bahrain, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia soared to new heights and crowned its first two-time champion in Team Jebsen driver Darryl O'Young.

The 2008 season offered much to celebrate. The record number of Chinese teams and drivers made their mark, taking 10 of the 12 Class A victories over the nine-month season, while a strong contingent from Singapore ensured plenty for local fans to cheer for when motorsport made it's eagerly-awaited return to the Lion City.

The calendar saw the series support the Malaysian and Chinese rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship, and stage its first ever "home" race in Singapore, in support of the inaugural Formula 1 night-race. Other firsts included two rounds each held as part of the China Circuit Championship in Shanghai in April, and at the Pan Delta Super Racing Festival in Zhuhai in June.

For the first time, the series travelled to Indonesia with a local driver, Danny Chu, in its ranks for the Asian Festival of Speed race meeting. To cap off its remarkable season, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia made its triumphant Middle East debut in Bahrain with a season-closing double-header which was nothing short of spectacular.

Class A driver O'Young of Hong Kong and, in the non-professional drivers' Class B, Tunku Hammam of Malaysia, each worked hard to earn their championships amongst the highly-competitive field. So intense was the competition that the title contest came right down the wire in the final race of the year.

After pre-season testing in February, the series roared into action in March at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Eventual Class A runner-up Christian Menzel of Nanjing's Team StarChase threw down the gauntlet on his Asian racing debut with a win and a second place finish. He matched that performance in Shanghai in April, also taking the extra point for pole position. However, Zhuhai spelled disaster for the German when he was absent from the podium for this first time, and failed to finish Round 6, seeing him forfeit his place at the top of the leaderboard.

O'Young's consistency was paying off, and his run of podium finishes remained unbroken until a loose suspension arm in Shanghai saw him finish out of the points for the only time this season. What was understandably frustrating for Team Jebsen, having worked so hard to build up even a slim points advantage at the top of the leaderboard, only spurred them on and, ultimately, provided a thrilling finish to the season.

Luck wasn't smiling on defending champion Tim Sugden of Qingdao's GruppeM Racing. Despite notching up eight podium finishes, including two wins, over the year, a puncture while leading the opening round and a technical hitch which saw him unable to take the start of Round 2, put a massive dent in his campaign from the start.

Christian Jones, meanwhile, was left stranded mid-season when his sponsor was forced to withdraw, but ironically that set-back resulted in a truly phenomenal performance in Zhuhai, with a pair of pole-to-flag victories. Clarksons were quick to notice his unquestionable talent, and stepped in to back him for the Singapore and Shanghai races. As it had done the previous season, fate was to intervene in the final round of the season. This time it was a technical problem which saw Jones' championship aspirations dashed.

Hong Kong's Marchy Lee finished his first full season of sportscar racing 5th in Class A. With the stakes so high, it is imperative to collect points each time out, and the Team BetterLife racer was plagued by bad luck despite. However, Lee enjoyed his season and is keen for another stab at clinching the title.

Champion in 2004, Mathew Marsh was back for a full season with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia with brand new team SC Global Racing. Also title partners for the Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia -- Singapore 2008, the Singapore leading luxury residential property developer was a perfect fit with the prestigious and respected series.

The race for Class B honours was just as close, with Melvin Choo of Corum ThunderAsia Racing and eventual Champion Tunku Hammam of Malaysia engaged in an intense, season- long battle. However, it was far from a two-horse race, with Australian Paul Tresidder and Hong Kong's Philip Ma both mounting strong challenges for the title.

Having won the penultimate round of the season, Choo looked set to clinch the coveted title, but was dramatically forced to retire from the final outing.

The series also made history as it became the first ever Carrera Cup to both travel to the Middle East and charter a flight for its racecars. The distances travelled - an astonishing 29,000km - and impressive calendar served to further strengthen the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia's reputation as the premier one-make racing series in Asia. As it enters its seventh season in 2009, more excitement is guaranteed, and another breathtaking, record-setting season is in the cards.

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.

-credit: pcc ap

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Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Darryl O'Young , Christian Jones , Paul Tresidder , Christian Menzel , Marchy Lee , Melvin Choo , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung