Menzel Rounds Off Perfect Weekend German Christian Menzel rounded off a perfect weekend in the opening rounds of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai today with a second emphatic victory on the 5.5km...
Menzel Rounds Off Perfect Weekend
German Christian Menzel rounded off a perfect weekend in the opening rounds of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai today with a second emphatic victory on the 5.5km circuit.
The StarChase driver led from lights-to-flag, and didn't put a wheel wrong through- out the 12 lap race, crossing the line with an impressive margin of more than 7.6 seconds. Second was LKM Racing's Darryl O'Young, who once again held off a hard-charging Marchy Lee for most of the race. Taking the final podium position was Team PCS Racing's Craig Baird.
In Class B, it was Baird's team mate Mok Weng Sun who took the honours for the second time this weekend, with rival Ringo Chong of Team Kangshun in second, and series newcomer Francis Tjia of OpenRoad Racing continuing his spectacular debut with his second podium finish of the weekend.
Menzel's perfect performance means he tops the Porsche Carrera Cup leader- board, with O'Young five points behind, although date clashes with his participation in the FIA World Touring Car Championship mean he will miss rounds later in the season. Baird lies third, 11 points adrift of Menzel.
In Class B, Mok has a seven point advantage over Chong and Francis Tjia, who are tied in second place.
Off the start, Menzel was away clear, and never looked back. Behind him though, the drama was unfolding with Team Jebsen's Rodolfo Avila making an un- characteristically slow getaway. It later transpired the reason was a clutch problem, and he retired from the race. In a heart-stopping moment on the opening lap, Jeffrey Lee of Pauian Archiland Team spun across the track, forcing several drivers to take drastic evasive action.
The intense battle between O'Young and Lee which had thrilled the crowds in the opening round continued into the second race of the weekend, with the Red Bull Racing driver right on the pace. As Baird dropped back behind the pair, Lee could concentrate on rattling his prey.
Further down the field, a high-speed duel was developing between Yuey Tan, Jean Marc Merlin and Michael Choi. Tan emerged victorious, crossing the line 8th, ahead of Merlin, however Choi ended his race in the pits after a coming together with the Frenchman on Lap 10, which saw the pair literally locked in battle.
At the front of the field, Lee made a move on O'Young on Lap 6, but couldn't make it stick. Four laps later, he saw his chance, diving past O'Young but then running wide and picking up the puncture which was to dramatically end his race.
Menzel was understandably delighted to have got his title defence off to such a good start, but mindful of the fickle nature of motorsport: "The weekend was perfect - fastest in practice, qualifying, winning both races and setting the fastest laps in each. To do this you need a fantastic car which is what I had. After yesterday we changed a few small things, but the solution today was the new set of tyres we had. The first three laps I had so much grip. But, this was our plan, our strategy, and as a result we won, but I am old enough to know this can change very fast!"
O'Young continued to wrestle to find the right setup: "It was tough! Christian gained his advantage in qualifying. That's how far back his advantage goes. We're still struggling with setup. It's disappointing not to win, but second is good and I'm pleased I was able to hold off Marchy. I just tried to drive a steady race, but couldn't get enough grip. We really need to work on setup."
New Zealand's Baird, competing in his first full Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season, has his work cut out this year as almost all the tracks are new to him: "I was lucky! I've really struggled to come to terms with this circuit. I didn't qualify well enough. We made some drastic changes to the setup yesterday and it was terrible - we went back- wards. This circuit is so big, it's difficult to get it right every time. It magnifies small mistakes, and is very technical. It looks easy on paper, but it's not. We need to raise our game and move forward."
For Lee, it was a disappointing end to the weekend: "I had a good car today. For the first couple of laps I was trying to save my tyres. On lap four, I started pushing and got close to Darryl. Craig was behind, so I could really concentrate on pushing him. I wanted to get by Darryl as soon as I could and I tried so many times, but he was driving very defensively. Fair, but defensive. I didn't want us to crash, but I had to try. I saw my chance and braked, but locked up. I tried to turn in even though I knew I already had a puncture, and I made the corner. As I racing driver, I wasn't happy to be stuck in third again. I had to try!"
For Mok, the race was another opportunity to keep up with the Class A professionals: "I had a really good start and after I was able to keep up with Craig and hang on to him for the first couple of laps. By doing so, I put a gap between myself and the other drivers, so I was alone again for the last ten laps. I'm determined to stay at the front, and 4th place equals my best finish in the series."
The battle between Chong and Francis Tjia was another crowd-pleaser. Said Chong: "Earlier in the race I passed Francis and tried to chase Mok, but he was too far in front. Then I had to defend against all the pressure Francis was putting on me. I was lucky Francis made a mistake - there was lots of back and forth but it was all good fun."
Said Tjia: "I made a mistake. I went wide and spun a little so Ringo managed to get past me. But it was a really good, fair fight and I think Ringo and myself will battle all season and hopefully we can improve and give Weng a run for his money."
The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia continues next month, with Rounds 3 and 4 to be held at Beijing's Goldenport Circuit from May 21-23 at the Fascination Porsche weekend.
-source: pcc asia