Asian Festival of Speed news 2004-06-09

Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia honoured with return of Thailand's Tourism and Sport Minister Thailand's Minister for Tourism and Sport, His Excellency Sontaya Kunplome, has accepted an invitation from Porsche Asia Pacific to participate in...

Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia honoured with return of Thailand's Tourism and Sport Minister

Thailand's Minister for Tourism and Sport, His Excellency Sontaya Kunplome, has accepted an invitation from Porsche Asia Pacific to participate in the upcoming rounds of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia at Bira Circuit in Pattaya on June 19 and 20. His Excellency competed in two rounds held at the same circuit last year, and won praise from both series drivers and organisers alike for his driving skill.

Commented Mr. Christer Ekberg, Managing Director of Porsche Asia Pacific: "We are honoured and delighted that His Excellency has accepted our invitation to participate in the series once again as our VIP driver, and I have no doubt he will be warmly welcomed back by all the drivers."

The on-track action is expected to be as scorching as the outside temperatures as the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup continues its charge through Asia. The constant possibility of tropical downpours in Thailand will do nothing to dampen the resolve of Asia's finest sports car pilots.

Neck and neck at the top of the Class A leaderboard going in to the next rounds are reigning series champion Charles Kwan and Thailand's Charoensukhawatana Nattavude. Nattavude is determined to clinch the championship title this year after his hopes were dashed after a run of bad luck in the latter part of last season. Competing on his "home" circuit, the Fuspeed Racing veteran will be on a charge in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year where he finished second to Kwan in both rounds, cruelly robbed of a win in the second race after a back marker caused him to spin while in the lead.

Backed by the title sponsor, Infineon Technologies, and Silicon Valley-based Novellus Systems, Kwan is well aware of the keen competition. However the driver, widely considered one of the most successful and experienced in Asia, has his sights firmly set on a second title.

"I am feeling confident but it will be, as always, a tough battle. The series has an extremely skilled, talented and experienced grid of drivers," he said.

Kwan's eye-catching, copper-liveried Team Infineon-Novellus state-of-the-art Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car will certainly be closely watched by his fellow drivers and spectators alike.

Currently third in the Class A standings is A-Ha Racing's Matthew Marsh, followed by the second of the four Thai drivers competing at Bira, Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak.

Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young has vowed to be on the podium in Thailand, but Singapore's Ringo Chong, who has put in some superb performances since he joined the series at the start of the season, can also be expected to be at the front end of the field.

Malaysia's Rizal Ramli, who started the season so brilliantly with a pole to flag victory in the opening round at Sepang, suffered a broken drive shaft while leading the race in Round 2. In Round 3, starting from the back of the grid, the Crest Jaseri Racing driver demonstrated his undoubted talent by expertly working his way through the field to finish 5th. However, the first three rounds were all at the Sepang International Circuit, a track with which the former British F3 driver admits he is extremely familiar, so it will be interesting to see how quickly he adapts at Bira, a track which is completely new to him.

Sri Lanka's Dilantha Malagamuwa will put the disappointment of the last rounds behind him where he was unable to take the start for the second race of the day. The Team IWS Holdings driver, who is also new to the series this year, is making great strides as he gets to grips with his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machine.

Class A non-series registered drivers competing in the next rounds are Manit Vravut of Thailand, racing with The Pizza Company, and German Sven Herberger, who finished a superb second in the opening round of the season.

Class B, introduced this season for gentlemen drivers, will be no less hard-fought and is providing a thrilling "race within a race" at every round. Max Chen of Taiwan currently tops the points table, but Dr. Toshihide Hashimura, who joined the series at the beginning of the year and is already making his mark, is only two points adrift.

Joining Class B drivers for the Thai rounds is Kenji Kawagoe who competed in seven rounds of the series last year, with his best finish 6th place in Korea,

Rounds 4 and 5 of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia will be run over 20-laps each of the 2.4km Bira Circuit on Sunday June 20, with practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday and Saturday.

Supporting the series 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 to led to every new Porsche engine being filled with Mobil1 high-performance lubricant. Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia drivers also have the advantage of high technology tyres, supplied by series partner Michelin, that have consistently improved the performance of many teams in international motorsport. The partnership between Michelin and the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia has emerged from a worldwide agreement signed between Porsche AG and the Michelin group in 2001.

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

-ma-

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Series Porsche
Drivers Dilantha Malagamuwa , Rizal Ramli , Charles Kwan , Darryl O'Young , Sontaya Kunplome , Matthew Marsh , Ringo Chong , Nattavude Charoensukhawatana