Asia GT Challenge Report – Shanghai, April 29-30
The first two races of the Asia GT Challenge 2006 were held on 29-30 April 2006 at the Shanghai International Circuit – writes Sergio Fonseca. The championship attracted a number of drivers from the European circuits, including Spaniard Luiz Monzon and Italian Luca Drudi from Mastercar and British drivers Aaron Scott and Ted Reddick.

In addition, among the local drivers, there was Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Matthew Marsh returning to the series, and ART Macau Formula Renault 2.0 Team Manager and former Formula Asia Macau GP winner Philippe Descombes as a new entrant. The 2005 Asia GT Challenge champion Michael Lee had sold his black Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to rookie Sasha Chu, and Michael Lee switched to a Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge, in the yellow colors of his corporate sponsor Colour Zone.

In all, the 2006 championship attracted 10 Ferrari race cars, which was a new record for Asian motorsports, to compete against 10 Porsches.

Qualifying - 29 April
As already shown in the Friday practice sessions, the two drivers in the Mastercar Ferrari 360 Modenas had the fastest pace early in the first qualifying session, with Luca Drudi lapping in 2:19.176 and Luiz Monzon in 2:20.044. British driver (from Hong Kong) Matthew Marsh showed good pace in his Porsche Cup car, but an electrical problem resulted in a small fire in the car, and he could not compete thereafter. The 2004 Asia GT Challenge champion Ray Li was also strong in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup but still 1.4 seconds off the pace, closely followed by Wayne Shen and Francis Tjia from Modena Motorsports with their Ferraris.

For the second qualifying session, it was basically the same dominance from Master Car, with a blistering 2:17.981 from Drudi on his first lap, leading his teammate by 1.2 seconds. Philippe Descombes managed a respectable third place with 2:20.130. Unfortunately the French driver would not race because of a gearbox problem.

Race Reports – 30 April
For race one, Luiz Monzon and Luca Drudi were 1-2 from start to finish, leaving the final podium slot to be contest between Ray Li, Wayne Shen, Francis Tjia, Michael Lee, Aaron Scott and Philip Ma. Ray had the advantage of a good start in the Porsche, which the Ferraris could not match without reliable launch control. Ray Li drove a faultless race, and secured third place.

For race two, the Mastercar boys also led from the start, but a strong start again by Ray Li elevated him from sixth to third halfway through the first lap. The race settled in three different groups, with more race action in the rest of the field - whilst the two Master Car drivers sped off. However, by lap nine, Luiz Monzon had brake failure, and his race ended in the gravel. This promoted Ray Li to second and Wayne Shen to third.

British driver Aaron Scott had an awful weekend. Aaron's Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge was badly handicapped with no front and rear spoilers, basically he was driving without any aerodynamic aids at all.

Next Asia Supercar Challenge 2006 race will on July 22-23 at Shanghai.


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