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Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia Round 1 Sepang International Circuit, MalaysiaLocal Hero Takes Dominant Win in Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia Opening Round

Malaysian Rizal Ramli took a commanding win in the opening round of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia at his home circuit today, leading the race from pole to chequered flag and opening up a 1.615 second gap.

Although taking a comfortable lead over the rest of the field, Ramli didn’t back off until the last two laps of the 10 lap race. “My initial plan was to set the fastest time each lap,” said the Crest Jaseri Racing Team driver. “I was pushing hard and went off the racing line twice, but apart from that I had no dramas. I’m really pleased!”

In second place was Germany’s Sven Herberger, racing for the first time in Asia, holding off some strong challenges from third-placed man and title holder Infineon-Novellus driver Charles Kwan of Hong Kong. Herberger refused to be rattled by the hard-charging Kwan, setting the fastest lap of the race of 2:14.401. “It was really good fun, but tough,” said a delighted Herberger.

Kwan got a bad start off the grid and dropped several positions. Although he was back up to third at the end of lap one, he wasn’t able to get by Herberger and challenge Ramli. “After the start, I tried to pass Matthew (Marsh) and then Sven, and that took time and slowed me down. I did everything I could to get by Sven when he slowed down in the final laps, but wasn’t able to do it. Also Ramli is very good driver!” he said.

Fourth was Charoensukhawatana Nattavude of Thailand, who had recovered from a disappointing qualifying session which saw him start from sixth on the grid. He managed to pass A-Ha Racing’s Matthew Marsh, who had qualified second but missed a gear on the opening lap allowing first Herberger and then Kwan by. Marsh finished fifth, but was disappointed with his result

Nattavude was satisfied with his position and with the set up having received some useful advice from Fuspeed’s Adrian Fu, himself a highly experienced driver. “The car was getting better and better,” he said. “Adrian really helped me so I’m really very happy with the results after a disappointing qualifying.”

Series newcomer, 23-year-old Darryl O’Young of Team Jebsen finished in sixth position, just one place off his goal of reaching the top five in this first Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia race. “The new set up really helped with tyre consistency,” said the Blue Girl and PUMA-backed driver. “The later laps were better, but I’m very happy with the results for my first race.”

X-Games superstar and PUMA VIP driver for the weekend, Travis Pastrana of the USA, finished a creditable ninth, but enjoyed his weekend enormously. “It’s been great!” he exclaimed. “I’ve really enjoyed it, and the competition’s amazing.”

Winner of the newly-introduced Class B for amateur gentlemen racers was Hong Kong’s Philip Ma. The class, designed to bring greater element of competition throughout the field non-professional racers, is a welcome addition to the series. “This is really encouraging for us and I’m sure will bring more amateur drivers to join the series,” said Ma following his victory. “We will all have something to look for (in Class B), and it has increased the level of competition amongst us.”

Second in Class B was Toshihide Hashimura of Japan ahead of Max Chen of Taiwan.

Ramli tops the championship leaderboard after the opening round and, having yesterday indicated he had no title aspirations, was more confident following his win. “I will try my best to win the championship,” he admitted. However, now the rest of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia series drivers have taken the measure of the 27-year-old Malaysian, it may not be so easy when they return to Sepang International Circuit for Rounds 2 and 3 on May 9.

ROUND 1 RESULTS Pos., Comp, Drivers, Cls, Entrant, Time
1, 55, Rizal Ashram RAMLI (MAS), A, Crest Jaseri Racing Team, 22:37.710
2,17, Sven Herberger (GER)*, A, Sven Herberger, 22:39.325
3,1, Charles Kwan (HKG), A, Team Infineon-Novellus, 22:39.983
4, 13, C. Nattaavude (THA), A, Fuspeed Racing, 22:53.343
5, 33, Matthew Marsh (GBR), A, A Ha Racing, 22:45.595
6, 99, Darryi Ö'Young (CAN), A, Team Jebsen, 22:52.802
7, 18, Vutthikom Inthraphuvasak (THA), A, Vutthikom Inthraphuvasak, 22:59.125
8, 19, Dilantha Malamamuwa (JPN) Team IWS Holdings, 23.07.989
9, 21, Travis Pastrana (USA), A, Porsche Asia Pacific, 23:09.583
10, 83, Ringo Chong (SIN), A, Eurokars Racing, 23:11.339
11, 98, Philip MA (HKG), B, Philip Ma, 23:23.303
12, 666, Mark Goddard (PHI)*. A. Mark Goddard, 23:26.383
13, 15, Toshide Hashimura (JPN), A, Hashimura Toshihide, 23:30.119
14, 28, Max Chen (TPE), B, A1 Racing Team, 23:40.357
15, 99, Alex Yan (HKG), B, AHa Racing, 23:58.000
23, Brian Saunders (GBR),A, Brian Saunders DNF,
6, Sebastian Zollhöfer (GER), A, Porsche Asia Pacific DNF
3, William E. Heinecke (THA), B, The Pizza Company DNF
77, Anil Thadani (THA), B, The Pizza Company DNF

*Non series registered

March 21, 2004

Report from 21/03/2004