Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel of Germany took his second successive Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship title at the 4.319km Zhuhai International Circuit today by finishing second in the penultimate round of the season.
Round 11 winner was Allan Simonsen on his debut with the series, a particularly impressive performance given it was his first ever race in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and on the Southern China track.
Third over the line was Red Bull Racing’s Marchy Lee, becoming championship runner-up for 2010. Though the Hong Kong racer, who began as the only other championship contender, fought hard every inch of the way battling first Simonsen and then Menzel, he couldn’t do enough to stay in the running.
Japan’s Keita Sawa, racing for the LKM Racing Team, crossed the line in 4th, while the Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila of Macau put in a stellar effort to finish the race up in 7th, having started from the back of the grid after a qualifying mishap.
In Class B, OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia took his first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia victory in this his debut season, with Modena Motorsports’ Wayne Shen in 2nd, and Pauian Archiland Team’s Jeffrey Lee 3rd.
In an incident-filled 12 laps, the race was declared wet although the rain had ceased. Off the grid, Menzel held his pole advantage to lead the field away. Behind him, Simonsen got away well, but Lee stole the march on Sawa to go 3rd. Further back, however, an incident between Dynaten Motorsports’ Michael Choi and Team Daycraft’s Morris Ku saw both cars collide and stop, heralding the first of two Safety Car periods.
When racing resumed at the start of Lap 4, Menzel was away well and began to rebuild his gap to the chasing pack. Lee, meanwhile, was immediately all over the back of Simonsen, until the Dane closed in on Menzel, getting by to grab the lead. Menzel was acutely aware of what was at stake, and refused to let his instinct to win get the better of him on the way to the bigger prize.
Former series regular, Alain Li of Hong Kong, who is making a one-off return this weekend, had qualified an impressive 9th overall, and was running in 7th place when he lost grip on the changing and difficult track conditions, hitting the barrier and spinning. The incident brought the Safety Car out for a second time, losing up the field yet again.
When racing resumed, Simonsen got away well and set about pulling out a gap at the front, and this time Lee was all over the back of Menzel. The then-championship contender fought all the way to the line, but Menzel was in control and held on to second and the title win.
Behind the pair, Francis Tjia and Shen were also battling to the end, but the Class B win was in the bag for the OpenRoad Racing driver.
Said a thrilled Menzel: “He (Simonsen) was too fast to have a fight with without risk. Sometimes you have to be smart. It was OK to be 2nd today, and I’m really, really happy. Tomorrow I can do what I want, without the championship at stake. I’ll be back in the middle of the podium!”
Simonsen, who received a last-minute call-up for the weekend was full of praise for Asia’s premier GT championship: “It’s such a great grid, and a great show to be part of,” he said.
Lee was philosophical about his season, saying: “It’s been a fantastic year - some back luck, but Christian has had some good and bad luck too. The series has a very high level of racing, and this year has always been very tight. I’d love to come back next year!”
In Class B, Tjia was understandably thrilled to have taken a win, having also grabbed the category pole position: “Finally! It feels very good. It was a tough race, and the track was very slippery. Not easy to drive consistently. We found the right set up for the car and it ran well. Wayne and I have raced together for years, we know each other's tricks, so I wasn't worried when he overtook me, and I wanted to beat him.”
Shen was disappointed not to have taken the win, but enjoyed the 12-lap thriller: “I had great battle with my good friend and we passed each other a few times. I chose a conservative set up which was the right decision. The track was quite dry and there was quite a lot of tyre wear by the end, so I think it was the right decision.”
Rounds 11 and 12 are the final races of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season, and are being run in support of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at the 4.319km Zhuhai International Circuit.
Prepared by Porsche Carrera Cup Asia