|Biggest Field in History for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia|
The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is set for a record-breaking ninth season with an unprecedented 28 drivers signed for the region’s most prestigious GT championship.
The countdown to the start of the stellar season, which includes 11 rounds, began on March 12 at Malaysia’s Formula 1 facility, Sepang International Circuit. The bumper field of sportscar specialists from across the globe will take their awesome Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racing steeds for a shakedown in the official pre-season test. The season proper gets underway as part of the 2011 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX in Shanghai from April 15-17.
Commented Mr. Helmut Broeker, Chief Executive Officer of Porsche China, which takes the organisational reins from Porsche Asia Pacific from this season on: “Our 2011 driver line-up, which represents the biggest grid in our history, and an exceptional calendar are nothing short of spectacular. The field includes electrifying young hotshots who will be competing against some of Asia’s most accomplished and experienced sportscar specialists. Plus we are pleased to welcome a number of new drivers and teams, who add a compelling ‘unknown’ element. This year we also have a record five Porsche dealer teams from China participating, which adds an additional element of rivalry outside the usual commercial competition. It’s going to be incredibly exciting to see whether youth or experience triumph in the race for the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship crown.”
A unique ingredient of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s soaring success is the dual championship system, where professional racing drivers compete alongside amateur racers in two, points-scoring classes.
Top finisher in 2010 amongst this year’s Class A professional field is Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila of the Macau SAR. The 24-year-old finished his first ever season with Team Jebsen - and just his third year of GT competition - a creditable 4th overall.
Singapore’s Mok Weng Sun returns with Team Porsche Club Singapore Racing, this time back in Class A having dominated the amateur category last season to take the title for the second time.
Fiercely competitive Mok will be on the hunt for a Class A title in his fifth season with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
LKM Racing will be fielding the daunting duo of former two-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion and current FIA World Touring Car Championship driver Darryl O’Young of the Hong Kong SAR, and two-time Macau GT Cup winner Keita Sawa of Japan. Despite contesting just six of the 12 rounds in 2010, O’Young still managed to end the year 6th overall.
With no date conflict with the FIA WTCC calendar this season, O’Young will be going all out to capture a record third championship win, with Sawa, runner up in 2007, equally determined to clinch the title.
China dealer team and two-time and reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champions Team StarChase has announced an inspired new driver signing in the form of 23-year-old single seater star Alexandre Imperatori. The China-based Swiss driver, who finished last year’s Japanese Formula 3 Championship 5th overall, will be making his sportscar - and Porsche - debut with the series.
Former Class B champion Philip Ma from the Hong Kong SAR will compete in the professional category for a second season, this year with Team Hong Kong Racing.
Other drivers making their series debuts are Brian Wong of America, competing with new team Absolute Racing, and Henri Richard of France, sharing driving duties with 2007 Class B champion Alain Li, who makes a welcome full-time return this year. Richard has competed in some of the world’s most prestigious sportscar races, including the Daytona 24 Hours and the American Le Mans Series.
While the heady mix of talent, experience and youth is very much in evidence amongst the Class A field, the category for non-professional drivers is positively bursting with international intrigue.
Singapore’s Ringo Chong, runner-up to arch racing rival Mok in 2010, is back with Team Kangshun. Also returning are Francis and Marcel Tjia of the Hong Kong SAR with OpenRoad Racing. The pair made an impressive debut last year, particularly Francis who finished 3rd overall in the category.
Two more bands of Hong Kong brothers - Wayne and John Shen with Modena Motorsport, and Morris and Terence Ku who will share a car at Team DAYCRAFT - return to the series for a second season.
Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei is back with his team Pauian Archiland in 2011, while from Singapore comes the irrepressible 29-year-old Yuey Tan with the Wimobilize McElrea Racing Team. Seventh in the category in 2010, Tan is developing his undoubted talent with every outing, and promises to be a real contender for the title this year.
Also from the Lion City comes Philip Briandet with his carbon-neutral Shift2Neutral Racing team.
Hong Kong drivers Mak Hing Tak of OMAK Team and Jacky Yeung are back in action this season, while making a welcome return to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is Australian Paul Tresidder, 3rd in the category in 2008.
Newcomer to the series and to sportscar competition, with the fourth Porsche China dealer team is Chinese driver Wang Jianwei with Team BetterLife. The 25-year-old from Hebei began racing in 2002 in the China Circuit Championship, clinching a prestigious Formula BMW Asia scholarship in 2005. Most recently, Wang was in action in the Scirocco Cup China, finishing 8th in 2010.
Embarking on her first full season with the series, having made a guest appearance in 2004 in Beijing, is Chinese lady driver Rose Tan. Driving for new China dealer team, Team C&D, Tan brings with her a wealth of experience having finished 3rd in the Asian GT series in 2008.
Making their debuts at the pinnacle of regional sportscar racing this season are experienced Australian GT Championship regular Keith Vong of Macau and Dr. Ma Chi Min of Hong Kong with Asia Racing Team. Adrian Henry D’Silva of Malaysia enters with Nexus Racing and joins other newcomer Davide Rizzo of Italy with Woyo Racing Team.
Opening the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2011 season in suitably prestigious fashion at the FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX weekend in Shanghai in April, the series will also be out on track at the FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX later on in the season, where the drivers will get another taste of the demanding Marina Bay street circuit.
In China, the series’ new home, in addition to the F1 season-opener in Shanghai, rounds will also be held at the Pearl River Delta’s Zhuhai International Circuit and the series will make its debut at the new Ordos International Circuit in Inner Mongolia, bringing world-class motorsport the length and breadth of the world’s most populous nation.