AP: Series Bahrain race two report

O'Young, Hammam Crowned 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champions Bahra in Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young became the first-ever double Class A champion in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia as the Hong Kong driver won the 2008 title in convincing style.

O'Young, Hammam Crowned 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champions Bahra in

Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young became the first-ever double Class A champion in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia as the Hong Kong driver won the 2008 title in convincing style. In Class B, Malaysia's Tunku Hammam overcame a six-point deficit to claim his first Class B championship title.

Round 12 winner Christian Menzel finished second in the overall championship, while Christian Jones, who came into the season's final two races at the Bahrain International Circuit with the championship lead, finished fourth overall after technical problems forced him out of championship contention in the final race of the season. GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden moved up to third in the championship after finishing third in Round 12.

O'Young, second in the race, was elated with his second championship title: "It's fantastic! It's been a tough championship, much harder than the first time I won in 2006, but that's made it all the more special."

Many predicted fireworks for the 12th and final race of the season, but the drivers all got away cleanly at the start, with Menzel pulling ahead of pole-sitter O'Young. Sugden dropped down from third to seventh, while Jones and Team BetterLife's Marchy Lee moved into third and fourth position respective.

While O'Young was tempted to try and make a move on Menzel, he never succumbed, mainly because each time he had a look it only allowed Jones to get closer. As the race continued, Menzel and O'Young managed to create a gap from the battle for the final podium spot ensuing behind them.

Jones -- who has put in some truly exceptional performances throughout the season -- experienced technical problems which eventually allowed Lee and Sugden to pass him, dropping him to fifth. He finished the race 14th, disappointing for the Australian after many rounds of hard work had made him a championship contender.

Mid-way through the race, Sugden was able to pass Lee but the determined Hong Kong racer grabbed the position back. The two commenced an epic, seven-lap battle that was not decided until the finish line, with Sugden finally snatching back the final podium spot. SC Global driver Matthew Marsh finished fifth in the final race of the season.

A smiling Lee said: "I just wanted to race with Tim, and it was good fun and a good race."

Sugden was also happy to end the year with great racing and said each time the two were side-by-side they would look at each other and smile though their visors!

In Class B, the engine problems which had plagued then championship-leader Melvin Choo in the earlier race continued, and he was eventually forced to retire. That meant Malaysia's Hammam became Class B champion, with newcomer Michael Kim of Japan and Australian Paul Tresidder, who finished third in the category, joining him on the podium.

"That's racing, what else can I say?" exclaimed Hammam about his reversal of fortune: "I'm elated. This year I've been more consistent than in 2007, and hopefully I'll be back next year - but I'll be in Class A and that's a whole different ball game!"

Indeed Hammam will have his work cut out next season as the competition has arguably been the toughest the series has yet seen. Said Sugden: "Overall it's been an excellent championship and all season long there have been five (Class A) drivers capable of winning a race on any given weekend."

In Round 12, it was Menzel's turn, although the championship was not meant to be: "I'm disappointed. The car, the team, the driver -- we were very prepared, but we were missing some power. If I have the chance to come back next year, I hope we can get the championship."

Team Jebsen and O'Young have partnered for five years and having earned their second championship together, O'Young could not be happier: "The weekend went flawlessly, except getting pole position which I think I really wanted! But I didn't have any errors in the first race nor in the second. I had the pace to fight with Christian Menzel but every time we were side by side, Christian Jones got closer. Menzel and I were able to build a big gap, and I decided not to overtake and just have a clean race and take the points."

The Middle East meeting rounded off a triumphant sixth season for the Porsche Carrera Cup, one which saw it support three rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship, in Malaysia, China and at Singapore's historic first ever Formula One Grand Prix weekend. The season also included races as part of the China Circuit Championship in Shanghai, the Pan Delta Super Racing Festival in Zhuhai, and the Asian Festival of Speed in Indonesia.

The Bahrain season-closer marked the series' first foray to the Middle East, as it continues to spread its wings across Asia.

While some were elated with their season performances and the improvements they made along the way, others were heartbroken at the very last second. But the racing in 2008 was, as always, fair and clean and after some much-deserved celebration, the drivers will begin preparations for the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season. If this year's season was any indication, next year is sure not to be missed!

With its field made up of some of the finest sportscar racers in Asia Pacific and Europe thrilling thousands of spectators and tens of millions of television views alike, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia can only go from strength to strength.

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

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Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Darryl O'Young , Christian Jones , Paul Tresidder , Christian Menzel , Marchy Lee , Melvin Choo , Michael Kim