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Singapore GP news: Menzel takes first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race on Saturday

Christian Menzel banished the demons of a year earlier, when an error in tyre choice put pay to his chances, to take an emphatic win for Team StarChase on Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit in the Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia – Singapore 2011.
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
25 Sep 2011

The reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion led from pole to chequered flag over the 12-lap race which was interrupted by a brief Safety Car period after Modena Motorsport’s Wayne Shen hit the wall. Second across the line was SC Global Racing’s Craig Baird, followed by LKM Racing’s Keita Sawa of Japan and team mate and FIA World Touring Car Championship regular Darryl O’Young.

Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila finished fifth, but with Menzel and Baird both substitute drivers and not eligible to score points, the Macau driver now leads the 2011 championship with three races to go. However, Sawa is snapping at his heals just three points behind. Team StarChase regular driver, Alexandre Imperatori lies third, one point behind Sawa.

In Class B, Pauian Archiland Absolute Racing’s Jeffrey Lee took victory after a superb move to overtake Team Kangshun’s Ringo Chong mid-way through the race. OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia finished third in the category after a strong run almost ended in disaster just two laps from the flag. Tjia ran wide, forfeiting a place to a hard charging Anthony Liu who himself then hit trouble almost hitting the barriers. Liu eventually crossed the line in 13th.

Team BetterLife’s Wang Jian Wei of China still leads the Class B points table, followed by Chong and Francis Tjia.

Said Menzel of his victory: “It’s a good feeling. I miss the series, the people, the atmosphere, the championship, so for me, it’s a pleasure to be back. To come back with pole position and first position is wonderful. First I will say that Craig pushed very hard. Believe me, it was a hard job, it was very hot. In the beginning I pushed maybe too hard, and I was lucky that the Safety Car came out and it helped me cool my tyres down. After the Safety Car came back it, my tyres came back.”

Baird was philosophical, despite the disappointment of second: “I lost grip at the beginning of the race and at the mid-point of the race, my car started coming together better. I wasn’t overly happy to see the Safety Car because obviously my car was working right at that point. I think in a sprint race you need to go as hard as you can from the start. Christian’s hard to beat, but we’ll make a couple little changes to the car and then push as hard as we can.”

Sawa, making an impressive Marina Bay debut, was focused on main prize and the race for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship: “For the race I tried to do my best and getting third position is very good for the championship as I am closer to Avila, and I have already passed (Alexandre) Imperatori. Tomorrow I need to try and pass again.”

Lee was modest about what had been a truly skilful and perfectly-timed overtaking move on Chong: “I was pretty close to him when I made that passing maneuver, and I could see that actually Ringo looked quite relaxed and he locked up and I was able to take advantage.”

Chong will be back out on track tomorrow determined to restore honour for Singapore: “I was driving and I kept saying my prayers in the car hoping that Jeffery would make a mistake and of course, he didn’t. I locked up and he overtook me. Tomorrow I will try my best to take a win for Singapore, but I will have to push very hard as these guys aren’t easy to beat.”

All 26 cars got away cleanly off the grid, and Menzel immediately began pulling out a gap from Baird, clocking the fastest lap on lap two. Sawa got by O’Young on the opening lap, but the pair were nose to tail despite being team mates. Behind Avila in fifth, Chong, Jeffrey Lee, Francis Tjia and Wayne Shen were locked in an epic battle which had the Singapore crowds on their feet lap after lap. Lee mounted his final attack on Chong, who had held off the charging pack brilliantly, on lap six to charge by and take a well-earned Class B victory.

The Safety Car was called out on lap nine after Wayne Shen’s incident, closing the field up, and it was touch-and-go whether racing would resume before the flag. But a dramatic two lap final dash to the flag saw Menzel once again charge away to open up a gap of almost eight tenths of a second by the flag from Baird. Avila made a move on O’Young, but wisely decided not to jeopardize the championship lead by risking all for a place.

Absolute Racing’s Brian Wong was unable to start after sustaining damaging during a qualifying incident.

Round 10 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be run today (Sunday) prior to the 2011 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX over 12 laps of the Marina Bay Circuit.

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