Thursday, November 18, 2004

Marsh on the case at Macau

I'm in Macau at the Grand Prix backing-up Hong Kong driver Matthew Marsh who is bidding to win the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the final round of the series......

Matthew Marsh, from Hong Kong, was the fastest of the championship contenders in the first practice for the 2004 Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia Championship held yesterday. He set a time of 2 mins 35.771 seconds, second overall to Darryl O’Young, the Canadian driver in the Team Jebsen entry.

Final qualifying will held later today and the series will be settled at the final round as a support race to the Macau Grand Prix on Sunday. After an 11-round series at circuits all over Asia, Macau’s demanding Guia street circuit will decide the winner. As these 400 bhp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racing machines take to the track for Sunday’s 10-lap final round three drivers are in contention to take the title.

Charoensukhawatana Nattavude of Thailand, in the Fuspeed Racing machine run by former-racing driver Adrian Fu of Hong Kong, holds a slender one-point lead going into the final round. He was three seconds adrift of Marsh in first practice but can never be counted out.

In-form driver Matthew Marsh of the A-Ha Racing team is determined to take the fight to Nattavude and claim the crown. Marsh comes to Macau on a winning streak having won four of the last five rounds. He was stripped of victory in the round held at the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai in September for a startline infringement and has been hungry to make amends.

Marsh said “I was disappointed with my performance yesterday. Macau, more than any other event, because of the limited track time, is about surviving and reacting correctly to unforeseen events. I did not do this correctly. I hope to go at least a second quicker this afternoon.” Marsh was held in the pitlane at a crucial time due to a problem with an onboard airjack.

Reigning Champion, Charles Kwan of Hong Kong in the Team Infineon-Novellus machine, is also an outside contender for victory. As one of Asia’s most successful racing drivers he has much experience of the Guia Circuit, having won here many times. He suffered accident damage in practice yesterday, the car requiring overnight repairs.

Both Marsh and Kwan were racing together at Zhuhai last weekend in a Ferrari 360 Modena in the China round of the FIA GT Championship. Off the track they are the best of friends. Marsh said “It was mega competing at Zhuhai. I had never raced a Ferrari before and I hadn’t experienced the Italian approach to motor racing. I think we proved that we were not there to make up the numbers. We intend to race at Le Mans flying the flag for Hong Kong.”

The battle for victory at this prestigious event will be far from a three-car race. Malaysia’s Rizal Ashram Ramli, a former Formula 3 racer in Europe and fourth in the championship with the Crest Jaseri Racing team, has made a strong impression this year with his no-nonsense, attacking style and now faces the challenge of adapting to the Macau street circuit.

Another newcomer to the series, Team Jebsen’s 24-year-old Darryl O’Young, has really made his mark in the region’s premier sportscar series. After topping the timesheet yesterday the youngster hopes to make the podium on race day.

Nigel Albon makes a one-off appearance at Macau after losing out on the championship title last year by just four points. His return to the series this year for the final round will add another factor for the championship contenders.


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