Third time lucky for Baird in China For the third time in as many months Kiwi Craig Baird heads to China for another learning weekend as the under-dog in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race series against a German defending champion. Currently...
Third time lucky for Baird in China
For the third time in as many months Kiwi Craig Baird heads to China for another learning weekend as the under-dog in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race series against a German defending champion.
Currently second after two race events totalling four rounds, the 39-year-old Baird and his VnC Cocktails Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car again head to a venue new to the New Zealand based team. Rounds five and six (of 11) are being contested at the 4.3 kilometre Zhuhai International Circuit in China's Pearl River Delta region this weekend (18 - 20 June).
"It'll be about hitting the setup from the get go," says Baird of the plan to win races and close in on the 16-point championship lead. "We need to be ahead of the pace and Christian Menzel (the series leader). Getting pole position is goal number one. Once we've done that the racing becomes a lot simpler and it's really the start and tyre strategy that become variables."
"We've got a good handle on the setup and are now just fine-tuning our plan on how the Michelin tyre works in these hotter climates."
"At Beijing we had the car working better early in the race, but didn't have enough toward the end when Menzel was making mistakes from the pressure I was applying once I'd made up the start-grid gap difference."
With the additional reward of a championship point for setting fastest time in qualifying, Baird says the start grid illustrates the difference between first and the rest.
"The starting position between the cars is a diagonal and car length behind, so starting anywhere but on pole is a huge backward step. Even with a mega start you're not going to make up that gap by the first turn - you need to start from the front if you're going to do anything but win."
"Qualifying at Beijing showed how we could influence the opposition. With three sets of new tyres available for the weekend we had Menzel's team sitting in the pits having used two sets already in setting fastest time. They were ready to run their last set just to keep us from starting ahead of them. So we know we're all but caught up to a defending champion who's prepared to try anything.
The weekend's Pan Delta Super Racing Festival will feature a 12-lap Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race on Saturday and Sunday, following an intense 30-minute qualifying shootout on the Friday. Part of the record 23-strong field, Baird says the identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars have made his job a lot more rewarding.
"We're right out of our comfort zone. With different cultures, new venues and the extremes of temperature and humidity it's a whole lot tougher than anything else you could do."
The Queensland based Kiwi is joined by Triple X Motorsport's Todd Bickerton and Ian McNabb who prepare and run the New Zealand funded VnC Cocktails Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.