Matthew Marsh – From East To Ouest
dailysportscar.comMatthew Marsh and Darryl O’Young made their LMES debut at Monza – in the Noble Group / GruppeM Porsche.

We caught up with the tall, Hong Kong-based Marsh (right) at Monza, just before the final practice session on Saturday morning.

So off you go Matthew, explain how this project came together.

“Kenny Chen and I first met at the Macau Grand Prix in 2003. I went on to win the Carrera Cup Asia Championship in 2004, and had this long-term dream to race at Le Mans. As a small boy, I’d seen the Silverstone 1000 Km, with people such as Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass racing, and it was always my dream to race at Le Mans.

“Kenny announced his plan to enter the FIA GT Championship, and at the Porsche Awards Dinner last year, he suggested that he was going to enter the LMES. He offered Darryl and I (below) the chance to run this car alongside his Porsche, and without Kenny offering us a great deal to do the LMES, we couldn’t have done it.”

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What is the Noble Group?

“It’s a Hong Kong-based supply chain management company. They deal in all sorts of raw materials, such as iron ore, coal and crude oil.

“Richard Elman is the founder of the company (annual turnover $8.6 billion), and he’s an exceptional entrepeneur. He sees a link between what he does and what racing drivers do. His company will buy iron ore from Australia, for example, ship it to China in its own ships, then sell it to a Chinese company, and perhaps take processed steel in payment for it.

“The other key person involved is Tim Huxley. He’s a Hong Kong-based ship broker, working for Clarksons, the largest ship broker in the world. He’s been based in Honk Kong for about 15 years, as I have.

“At the Macau GP in ’99 or 2000, Tim had bought into a touring car team, and he persuaded some of his business associates to sponsor the car - and the Noble Group has been a sponsor of Tim’s ever since. I drove Tim’s touring car, and he suggested we should try and race in the Carrera Cup support race at the Macau GP in 2003 – and we did. I took pole position and finished third, and went on to win the championship last year.

“I kept on at Tim, and made a good case for doing Le Mans, and the natural point to start was in the LMES – so here we are at Monza, one of the great circuits. But I need to thank Richard Elman. I sent him a proposal, and the reply came back from him simply saying ‘You’re on’. So this is the Noble Group / GruppeM Porsche.”

And at that point, Matthew Marsh had finished changing into his overalls, and was ready for the third practice session.

Raceday didn’t turn out to be quite the LMES debut that he and Darryl Young were anticipating, the Noble Group RSR experiencing a significant blow-out approaching the Ascari chicane. But the gravel did its job, and the Porsche wasn’t badly damaged. Next stop will be the Silverstone event, where Matthew watched Porsche 956s race over 20 years ago.

www.thisisnoble.com

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