Sugden Triumphs in Shanghai GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden took victory in the opening round of the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia today at the Shanghai International Circuit. The Briton crossed the line ahead of Team StarChase racer Christian...
Sugden Triumphs in Shanghai
GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden took victory in the opening round of the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia today at the Shanghai International Circuit. The Briton crossed the line ahead of Team StarChase racer Christian Menzel of Germany, and series newcomer and pole-sitter Rodolfo Avila of Asia Racing Team.
In Class B, it was Corum ThunderAsia Racing's Melvin Choo who took the honours for Singapore, ahead of Jacob & Co Racing's Philip Ma of Hong Kong, and Team PCS Racing's David Lai, also from Singapore.
Sugden was delighted with his win, but forecast a season-long battle ahead: "It was really good fun! I was keen to make a good start, as I'd been a little worried about that. I also had new brake pads fitted which is always difficult for the first couple of laps, so I kept getting overtaken, but then the brakes came in."
The hugely-experienced driver was also full of praise for Avila: "He drove very, very well. This is as good as I get, but for some of these drivers, they can get better. The whole season is going to be a big fight."
For Menzel, it was a good result given the short preparation time the team had: "Second place is OK. It's good points, and those are very important. Plus it was a nice fight."
Avila impressed on his debut, holding off a hard-charging Sugden to lead for most of the 12-lap race, despite losing his pole advantage off the start. Brushing aside any suggestion the young driver, and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia newcomer, might have nerves of steel, Avila was pragmatic: "I was slow in a few corners, and I tried to slow Tim down in a few. At first, I was managing the distance between us, but then later on I made a few mistakes. But it was a good race, and I'm getting to know who I'm racing against. I need to work harder, but this was my first ever race in a Porsche, so it's a very good boost for me."
Choo is embarking on the season with a fresh outlook: "I found my pace in the race, but the driver in front of me was black flagged but didn't see, so I was waiting for him to come in. Anyway, I'm not looking backwards, only forwards! I'm going to go as fast as I can and not think of anything else. Be aggressive, without doing anything stupid, and be clam." So far, the new philosophy is evidently working.
For Ma, it was a less than ideal start to his seventh Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season, but he was typically upbeat: "It could have been better! I got a good start and saw Tunku (Hammam) in front, and I thought he'd take Melvin (Choo). Then I saw the incident with Melvin, so I thought it was a good chance for me. But then I locked up under braking. Luckily I didn't hit the barrier, but Melvin recovered from his spin better than I as I had to wait for traffic."
Menzel was away like lightning from the second row of the grid, pulling alongside Sugden and Avila at the start. However, it was Sugden who led out of the first turn, and who regained the lead after Menzel got by but then ran wide. That let both Sugden and Avila through, demoting the German to third, but the Macanese racer dived past the Briton to grab the lead.
Sri Lanka's Dilantha Malagamuwa was right up with trio, having pulled out a gap from the chasing pack led by Ringo Chong, Mok Weng Sun and Danny Chu.
At the front, despite his best efforts to pull out a gap, Sugden had closed in on Avila, briefly reclaiming the lead on lap three. However, after a nail biting three-abreast moment, Avila was back at the front. Despite the best efforts of Sugden, the younger driver refused to be rattled, setting the fastest lap and maintaining his concentration.
With just two laps to go, Avila made an error, allowing Sugden past to take the lead and the victory. A second error by the newcomer saw Menzel get by to claim second, but Avila had more than earned the final podium place.
Malagamuwa, who had driven one of his best ever races, dramatically spun and stopped in the closing stage, a disappointing end to what had been an excellent run.
Indonesia's Danny Chu was given a drive-through penalty, while Team PCS Racing's Yuey Tan had to retire after an incident with guest driver Augusto Perfetti.
Reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Darryl O'Young was unable to take the start due to insufficient time between qualifying and the race to prepare a new engine. Team Jebsen is hoping the engine will be ready for Round 2 tomorrow so it can get its title defence underway.
Round 2 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be run over 12 laps of the 5.5km Shanghai International Circuit tomorrow, as part of the 2009 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix
-credit: pcc ap