Baird Takes Maiden Asian Victory in Singapore SC Global Racing's Craig Baird put in a stellar performance on Singapore's challenging 5.067km Marina Bay street circuit today to clinch the first Asian victory of his career. Despite ...
Baird Takes Maiden Asian Victory in Singapore
SC Global Racing's Craig Baird put in a stellar performance on Singapore's challenging 5.067km Marina Bay street circuit today to clinch the first Asian victory of his career.
Despite dramatically changing track conditions, the New Zealander held off FIA World Touring Car Championship driver and former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Darryl O'Young, to take a spectacular win in the gruelling 12-lap race.
Just 0.347 seconds separated the pair at the flag, with Hong Kong's Marchy Lee third across the line, ahead of Team Jebsen's Rodolfo Avila of Macau.
Defending champion and pole-sitter, Christian Menzel of Team StarChase, finished down in 13th, a tyre choice gamble costing him dearly. After heavy rain earlier in the day, and a wet qualifying session, Menzel was one of just a handful of drivers electing to race on wets. The decision cost him dearly, with his lead in the championship now just two points from Baird.
The race for Class B honours was just as intense, with championship leader and category pole man Mok Weng Sun taking his 7th straight victory of the season, ahead of rival Ringo Chong of Singapore and Jean Marc Merlin of France, who manfully held off a determined Philip Ma of Hong Kong until the final laps.
The race got underway under cloudy skies, and all the drivers were well aware that the track was far from dry. Off the grid, Menzel got away cleanly, but ran wide and, in the dramatic tangle that followed, Baird emerged leading the pack from Lee, O'Young and Menzel. As O'Young battled to re-take Lee, Baird pulled out at the front, building a 2.1 second lead. Behind Menzel in 4th, Mok got by Avila and managed to hold him at bay until lap 4. However there was no respite for the Class B leader, as Chong was in his mirrors almost immediately.
O'Young got by Lee on the third lap and then set his sights firmly on Baird, setting the fastest lap of the race on his way to closing the gap. The pair was nose-to-tail for more than half the race, with O'Young piling on the pressure but to no avail.
Baird was elated to have taken his first victory in Asia, having held off a determined O'Young for most of the race: "Wow, it was so humid and mega hot out there! It's good to get the monkey off my back in Asia, and this is the first time I've been back to a track, so feel more comfortable here. I kind of knew on the grid that Christian (Menzel) had made the wrong tyre choice. Fair call to him though, and it could have gone either way.
The track wasn't dry, and particularly at Turn 8 there were a few areas of water. We were pioneering every lap," he said.
Victory was twice as sweet as Baird was racing for the event title sponsor: "SC Global put faith in me to put a car on the podium. I said to Simon Cheong (Chairman and CEO) this week that he could move the world globe sitting on his desk to make space for a trophy - I may go and do that for him myself now!"
O'Young, who hasn't raced with the series since Shanghai in April due to FIA WTCC commitments, was full of praise for Baird: "I was pushing hard. I got a great start and was up to third and was looking to get by Christian, when Marchy go in and passed me.
It took me three laps to get past Marchy again, and that gave Craig a lead. I'd used a lot of my tyres by the time I caught him. I tried to force a mistake (from Craig), but he drove really well."
The battle for overall victory was as fierce in Class B, with Mok and Chong, firm friends off the track but consummate professionals on, putting on a nail-biting show for the fans. The pair didn't ease off for a second, with neither putting a wheel wrong.
Said Mok, whose victory extended his impressive points tally at the top of the Class B leaderboard to 53, and puts him 4th overall in the championship: "This is a dream result for the two of us! Ringo was driving very cleanly. I got a brilliant start and got by Avila, and I kept him behind me for quite a while, before I figured it was safer to let him go. I didn't realise Ringo was going to close in so quickly. But it was great, and the first time my daughter has come to see me race!"
Singapore's Yuey Tan was unable to take the start after damage caused in qualifying couldn't be repaired in the short time to the race. He will start the second race tomorrow (Sunday).
The Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia - 2010 continues tomorrow (Sunday) with a second race in support of the 2010 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX.