AP: Shanghai round nine preview

China Circuits to Host 2006 Title Showdown The race tracks of China are set to host the final four rounds to decide who will take the 2006 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title. In one of the most exciting seasons so far, the series heads to Shanghai...

China Circuits to Host 2006 Title Showdown

The race tracks of China are set to host the final four rounds to decide who will take the 2006 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title. In one of the most exciting seasons so far, the series heads to Shanghai International Circuit this month where Round 9 on the 12-race calendar will be held as an official support race to the 2006 Formula Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix.From Shanghai, the series will make its debut at the Zhuhai International Circuit in Southern China with two rounds on October 22, before the grand finale - and what could once again well be the title-decider - at the Macau Grand Prix on November 19.

Holding the closing four races across the world's most populous country is an exciting prospect for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, and an opportunity to showcase what has quickly become recognised as the region's premier sports car series.

Commented Project Manager Motorsport, Porsche Asia Pacific Michael Dreiser: "Motorsport is developing rapidly in China, and it is exciting for us and the millions of racing fans there to hold the final rounds of the series in this country. As an official support race to the 2006 Formula Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix we reach hundreds of thousands of fans along the Eastern Seaboard, while racing at Zhuhai International Circuit, as part of the Asian Festival of Speed, means exposure to the burgeoning Pearl River Delta region. At the Macau Grand Prix, we are part of a prestigious race weekend which includes the FIA Intercontinental Cup of Formula 3 and the FIA World Touring Car Championship."

Mathematically, the top eight Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers are all still in contention for the Class A title after eight rounds, but championship leader Darryl O'Young is keen to hold the advantage for Team Jebsen on home ground. O'Young has notched up five victories so far to give him a 14 point lead over arch-rival Shinichi Yamaji of Tomo Racing, but the Japanese ace is on top form having scored two wins in Indonesia in July.

However, Indonesia's Sentul Circuit was new to both drivers, while O'Young has spent many hours on the Shanghai and Zhuhai race tracks in his role as an Official Porsche Instructor, and scored a memorable win on Macau's Guia street circuit last year.Familiarity with the circuits could prove an advantage, but the Hong Kong driver is all too well aware of the high levels of talent and resolve throughout the field:J"Several of the drivers know these tracks well, so I'm not alone. Also, I would never underestimate any of the competitors in this series. As the number of races left decrease, the less championship points there are up for grabs, so the next four rounds will see intense competition. I will be pushing just as hard as I did in the opening rounds of this championship to try and grab the title."

"Shanghai is a fantastic circuit to drive, and I enjoy it every time. For Zhuhai, it will be great to see the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field there for the first time, while Macau is a massive contrast where a good performance in qualifying and a huge amount of concentration are both crucial!" he continued.

Fellow Hong Kong driver and champion in 2004, Matthew Marsh, also knows the China tracks well and is just 17 points adrift of Yamaji going in to the next round. After a disappointing outing in Indonesia, Marsh will be keen to be back on "home turf" having recorded five podium finishes so far this season for his Gates GR Asia team.

Thailand's Charoensukhawatana Nattavude is currently tied 4th on the leaderboard with Cref Motorsports' Keita Sawa, but the racing veteran is sure to be putting behind him what has been an unlucky season so far for his Chinese SCC Racing Team. The competition is no less heated in Class B, for non-professional racers, where series newcomer Geoff Morgan of Australia leads fellow countryman Rusty French, also making his series debut this year, by six points. Hong Kong's William "Chip" Connor and Philip Ma are snapping at their heels in third and fourth respectively. 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 CupAsia 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.

The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia runs as part of the Asian Festival of Speed, organised by Malaysian-based Motorsport Asia Limited.

-credit: pcc.asia

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Series Porsche
Drivers Shinichi Yamaji , Keita Sawa , Darryl O'Young , Matthew Marsh , Rusty French , Philip Ma Chingh Yeung , Nattavude Charoensukhawatana