AP: Series Shanghai qualifying report

Sugden Bounces Back with Pole for Shanghai GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden took pole position for the second time in as many races, as the Briton narrowly grabbed the top position ahead of Clarksons' Christian Jones, beating the Australian by...

Sugden Bounces Back with Pole for Shanghai

GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden took pole position for the second time in as many races, as the Briton narrowly grabbed the top position ahead of Clarksons' Christian Jones, beating the Australian by just three one-hundredths of a second. Team StarChase's Christian Menzel and Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young will comprise the second row of the grid for tomorrow's Round 10, in support of the 2008 Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix.

Neither Sugden nor Jones wasted any time in setting their best times, with reigning champion Sugden clocking his pole time of 2:10.458 early in the session. After a disappointing outing in Singapore, where Sugden crossed the finish line first only to drop to fifth after receiving a penalty, winning pole was an important step towards ending his season on a high note.

"Singapore was such a shame," said Sugden, who currently lies third in the Drivers Classification behind championship leader O'Young and Jones. "I'm going to try to win all three races -- that's all I can do. Winning the championship is not in my hands anymore and all I can do is my best." Sugden is, in fact, still in with a shot at the title, but given the consistency of his two nearest rivals, he will have his work cut out.

Jones was pleased with his position for tomorrow's race, but was understandably frustrated to have missed out on pole by such a minute margin. However, remaining upbeat he said: "Being on the front row is like being on pole. I think we have a good race pace and usually I'm pretty good at starts, so we just need to go out tomorrow and have a good start."

Though Menzel qualified within a tenth of a second of Sugden and Jones, he was not totally pleased with his effort this afternoon.

"I'm a bit disappointed because today the car and the driver were not good enough for pole," Menzel said. "It's my first time on the full Grand Prix circuit and it's a nice track. I'm very optimistic for tomorrow."

Singapore's Melvin Choo qualified fastest in Class B and the current category leader said he was satisfied with his position and with his strategy as he had used only one set of tires for the session.

"I decided I wanted a new set of tires for the race and so we elected just to go on one set today," said the Corum ThunderAsia Racing driver. "It's going to be a tough race tomorrow and I'm happy that our plan worked out and we have a slight advantage."

Second and third in Class B qualifying were Malaysia's Tunku Hammam and Hong Kong's Philip Ma.

Not all of the drivers were pleased with their qualifying session. Hong Kong's O'Young, who came to Shanghai, looking to increase his lead in the Drivers Classification got off to a frustrating start and then hit traffic in the second half of the session.

"On the first set of tires, there was no grip at all and I pushed hard but I couldn't do any better," O'Young said. "I went in for changes and when I came back out, there was traffic and the lap was completely blown. It was a terrible qualifying session."

Team BetterLife driver Marchy Lee said he had not anticipated getting into the top-three in qualifying. Lee, who will start fifth, said there was still a lot of work to do between qualifying and race day.

"We still have to figure out what the problem is," Lee said. "But I think once we figure it out, the car will respond better to how I want to drive."

For the record seven Chinese teams competing in the 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, this weekend's race represents the teams' final "home" event of the season, and is the series' second stop in Shanghai this year. With only three races remaining for the 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season, the stakes are high, the competition is fierce, and Sugden predicted some strong racing.

"It's going to be very close," Sugden said. "I think it's going to be a great race tomorrow!"

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