AP: Series Zhuhai preview

Hong Kong's Finest Eager for "Home" Race Asia's premier sportscar series, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, heads to China's dynamic Pearl River Delta region next week, as the battle for the championship title becomes ever more intense. For the...

Hong Kong's Finest Eager for "Home" Race

Asia's premier sportscar series, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, heads to China's dynamic Pearl River Delta region next week, as the battle for the championship title becomes ever more intense. For the first time, the series will be part of the Pan Delta Super Racing Festival at the 4.3km Zhuhai International Circuit.

Despite not having a race track, Hong Kong is home to three former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champions who are amongst a number of the region's leading racing drivers from the SAR.

For the five Hong Kong drivers in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, a chance to compete on their "home" circuit is one which they all relish. Particularly Matthew Marsh, 2004 Champion who competes with the new SC Global Racing, the company which is also the title sponsor of Round 9 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the 2008 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX this September and Official Series Real Estate Partner. Says Marsh: "We're now really getting to the "meat" of the series, and I predict a tight battle over the coming months before we get to the two Formula One support races in Singapore and Shanghai."

"The Zhuhai track has a pretty simple layout but racing there is by no means easy. The nature of the circuit usually results in very close lap times, so the slightest inaccuracy under braking can really hurt -- especially in qualifying," adds the SC Global Racing ace, who has recently made a triumphant return from the famous Nurburgring 24 Hours race in Germany where he won his class.

Top of the Class A leaderboard going in to Rounds 5 and 6, with two wins and two runner-up finishes out of four races, is German Christian Menzel of Team StarChase.

A Hong Kong driver who will be out to use his experience on the Zhuhai track to close the nine point gap from Menzel in the Championship is Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young. Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion in 2006, determined to clinch a second title this season, and holder of the current series lap record on the Zhuhai track, O'Young is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Having tasted victory this season in Round 2, and finishing on the podium in every race so far, he'll be one to watch next weekend.

Christian Jones of Australia, third in the championship on his debut last year, leads Hong Kong's Marchy Lee of Team BetterLife by just two points, while reigning Champion, GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden will be keen to continue his title defence having overcome a run of appalling luck in the opening rounds. The Briton took a win and a second place in Shanghai last month to get his campaign back on track.

Joining Marsh, O'Young and Lee from Hong Kong in Class A will be fellow SAR driver Sunseeker Asia's Alain Li, and in Class B for non-professional drivers, the highly- experienced Philip Ma.

For the youngest driver in the field, Indonesia's Danny Chu of the Stichting Chu Racing Team, Zhuhai will be an important opportunity to get better acquainted with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car head of his "home" race at Sentul International Circuit outside Jakarta next month. In his first year of professional racing, the 23-year-old is facing a steep learning curve amongst some of the region's most experienced racers.

A welcome new addition to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei. Lee, who joins the series at Zhuhai and will contest the remainder of the 2008 season, has been racing for eight years but, until now, in single seaters. Lee will be making his sportscar debut with the series at a circuit he knows well and, although a newcomer to the Porsche Carrera Cup, he will be amongst friends: "I've been following the series for years as my friends Max Chen (a former series competitor), Philip Ma and Marchy Lee are all competitors. I believe it is a very well organised series, it is getting better and better, and is extremely challenging."

ThunderAsia Racing's Melvin Choo leads the Class B standings going in to Round 4, from Malaysia's Tunku Hammam, with Australian series newcomers Paul Tresidder and Greg Ward. Gerald Teo of Singapore will be back for the Zhuhai rounds, taking over from brother Greg who competed in Shanghai.

Returning to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia for the Zhuhai Rounds, standing in for David Lai, will be Tan Ian Mao of Singapore. Tan last raced with the series in the opening rounds in Malaysia last season, and will compete in Lai's Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the two, 12-lap races to be held on Sunday, June 22, with qualifying on the Saturday.

-credit: porsche.com/carreracup

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Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Darryl O'Young , Matthew Marsh , Christian Jones , Jeffrey Lee , Christian Menzel , Marchy Lee , Melvin Choo , Alain Li , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung