The cream of Asia's sports car specialists are gearing up to do battle in the penultimate two rounds of the 2004 Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia season at South Korea's Taebaek Circuit. With the 2004 Championship title wide open, and the top six drivers on the leaderboard all in contention for the crown, the action is guaranteed to be thrilling, tense - and more than a little aggressive.
Just 38 championship points separate the top six, with Fuspeed Racing's Charoensukhawatana Nattavude leading the standings after eight rounds, followed by A-Ha Racing's Matthew Marsh, 13 points adrift. Last year Marsh scored his first series podium finish at the 2.5km South Korean track
Reigning champion, Team Infineon-Novellus pilot Charles Kwan of Hong Kong is just five points behind Marsh going into the two penultimate rounds, but has his sights firmly set on a securing second title. Kwan won both rounds in Korea last year and there is no doubt he will be looking to repeat his success of a year ago.
Also in the running is series newcomer, Team Jebsen's Darryl O'Young. At just 24 years-of-age, and competing in sports cars this season for the first time in his career, the PUMA and Blue Girl-backed youngster notched up two second place finishes at Beijing's Goldenport Circuit in August, and has consistently finished in the top seven all year
Malaysian star and former British and European Formula 3 driver, Rizal Ramli, has provided arguably the most impressive on-track performances this season with his aggressive and skilled driving style. Despite having three wins to his credit so far, the 28-year-old Crest Jaseri Racing Team driver has suffered a couple of setbacks which dented his championship chances, but he is still very much a hot contender. Ramli will be racing at Taebaek for the first time, but he has shown he adapts quickly to unfamiliar tracks.
In Class B, for amateur drivers, A1 Racing Team's Max Chen of Chinese Taipei tops the leaderboard, followed by friendly rival Philip Ma of Hong Kong and fellow countryman Scott Miau, who is making an impressive series debut this season.
Joining the series for a second event is non-series driver William E. Connor II, while newcomer Akira Hirakawa from Japan has signed up for the Korean rounds.
The next two rounds will be all the more hard-fought as drivers jockey for position in the two class championship standings before the grand finale of the 2004 season held as part of the Macau Grand Prix weekend in November.
Said series General Manager, Ian Geekie: "Macau is not only a street circuit, but is completely unique in many ways. All the drivers know that anything can happen there, so each and every one will be fighting to get as many championship points under his belt as possible before going to Macau. Taebaek Circuit is also a very tight track, with limited overtaking areas, so I would predict that qualifying will be just as intense as the racing. I predict a two-day pitched battle all the way through the field."
Rounds 9 and 10 of the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia will be run over 20 laps each of the 2.5km Taebaek Circuit
Report from 11/10/2004
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