AP: Series Zuhai race one report

Avila takes First Win for Macau Talented 22-year-old Rodolfo Avila of Asia Racing Team claimed the first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia victory of his career, and a maiden win for a Macau driver, at the Zhuhai International Circuit today, valiantly ...

Avila takes First Win for Macau

Talented 22-year-old Rodolfo Avila of Asia Racing Team claimed the first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia victory of his career, and a maiden win for a Macau driver, at the Zhuhai International Circuit today, valiantly holding off a determined Tim Sugden of GruppeM Racing in a thrilling final lap. Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young recovered from an early spin to claim the final podium place in Round 5.

In Class B, Hong Kong's Philip Ma of Jacob & Co Racing Team made good his pledge to concentrate on taking maximum points at his home race this weekend by taking victory, followed across the line by Team PCS Racing's Yuey Tan in second, his best result so far, with guest driver and fellow Singaporean Tan Ian Mao in third.

For pole-sitter and points leader going into Round 5, Team StarChase's Christian Menzel, it was a disastrous race. Getting away well from the line, the German led the field and was pulling out a comfortable margin when mechanical problems ended his race.

Sugden now tops the championship leaderboard with an 11 point advantage over Menzel, with Avila third and O'Young fourth. In Class B, Philip Ma now tops the leaderboard, nine points clear of Melvin Choo, absent this weekend, with Mak Hing Tak in third.

Said a delighted Avila, who also set the fastest lap of the race: "It was a very, very hard race, and was really tough, especially with Tim. This is my second home circuit, so maybe I was a little bit aggressive, but if you want to win you need to be!"

The young series newcomer had suffered badly from nerves before the race, but gave no clue once on track: "I haven't slept much, and I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself. I didn't think I'd be so mentally fit. In the race, I started to think too much and make mistakes. At turn 11, I thought Tim really had it, but I closed the door -- I gave it my all. I thought, 'crash or win', something I wouldn't do at any other track, but this is my second home circuit."

Sugden, although never happy with anything less than victory was nevertheless both full of praise for Avila, and delighted to be at the top of the leaderboard: "Rodolfo did really, really well -- I didn't think I could catch him. The last three or four laps, the car was getting better and I was able to push him."

For Menzel, his retirement is a serious blow to his championship aspirations: "I was dominating the race, and realistically now all I can do is hope the car is fixed for the next race. My championship situation is a disaster. If I have no luck this season, then it will be very difficult for me to win it."

Yuey Tan was delighted to be on the podium for the first time: "My start was probably the best I've done all season. There was lots of action in the first couple of corners, one car in front of me went off. I had Mao (Tan Ian) behind me at some points and he pushed me, which was fun!"

For Mak, spinning out while leading Class B was an enormous disappointment: "I had a great start and passed a few cars. I was pushing hard, but Philip was right behind me. At one corner, I braked too late and spun. I managed to rejoin the race but was too desperate to catch the field and spun again. It was an unforced error!"

It was an exciting start to the 12-lap race, held in searing temperatures, with Menzel getting away well and Avila holding second initially, but an excellent getaway by Sugden from fourth on the grid saw him get by the Macau driver out of Turn 1 to go third. However, a high-speed tussle between Avila and O'Young saw the reigning Champion spin, and allowed Avila to get by Sugden, who was keeping clear of a potential incident, and up into second.

Also involved in the incident were Ringo Chong of Team Kangshun and Danny Chu of Stichting Chu Racing. The pair came together, and Chong sustained damage which forced his retirement. Chu continued the race to finish sixth.

In Class B, Mak Hing Tak of OMAK Racing had taken the lead in the category from Ma, until he locked up and spun. He rejoined behind the eventual leader, but then spun off again, ending his race.

Behind Menzel, who was concentrating on increasing his lead, Sugden piled the pressure on Avila, while O'Young was climbing back up the field, getting by PTRS Racing's Jeffrey Lee on lap four to take fourth place.

Mechanical problems hit Menzel on lap five, and Avila inherited the lead and set about pulling away from Sugden, building a 1.617 gap by the end of lap nine. However, the experienced Briton began closing in, reeling in his adversary, piling on the pressure and setting the scene for the last lap thriller. Despite his best efforts, Avila held his nerve despite the fact the pair was two abreast on the charge to the line, where they were separated by just 0.250 of a second.

As Avila prepared for the second race of the day, where he will start from pole, many believe there is much more to come from him: "I'm getting more used to the car, making fewer mistakes. We're still learning -- the team, our engineer, me. Every lap counts, and I hope we can get quicker," he said.

-credit: pcc ap

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Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Jeffrey Lee , Rodolfo Avila , Melvin Choo , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung , Ringo Chong