New Zealand’s Craig Baird remains upbeat at still holding second overall in the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series despite being taken out of the weekend’s first race at Zhuhai International Circuit in China.
The two-race weekend in China’s Pearl River Delta region covered rounds five and six of 11 on the 2010 calendar. With Baird having been fastest in early qualifying, his run of bad luck began with being baulked on his last flying lap despite having set fastest sector times.
Relegated to third for the opening 12-lap race the 39-year-old Queensland based Kiwi was gridded behind Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila and Red Bull Racing’s Marchy Lee, but ahead of series leader Christian Menzel. Getting a better start than his rivals, he’d moved to second by the second lap. That dropped pole sitter Rodolfo Avila to fourth, when the Macau racer made a dive-bomb move on Baird and Menzel. Out-braking himself, he drilled in to the right-side of the Baird VnC Cocktails Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and then Menzel, to force all three in to the retirement of the gravel trap.
Surprised at the move, Baird said it was the bigger picture that mattered. “Having Menzel alongside as a retiree meant the championship was still alive,” he said. “I’ve had to moderate my thoughts on what happened; we’re here for the title – so have to take each race as it comes.” Starting from the back of the grid for the second 12-lap race with championship leading rival Menzel, it was a case of collecting as many points as possible. Void of the earlier race antics, Baird finished fourth overall, one behind Menzel.
“It was the best of a bad situation – the Triple X Motorsport guys worked tirelessly in the two-hour timeframe between the races to get the car ready after the accident. The impact was so severe there is quite a shift in the chassis. So while they got the wheels straight, they didn’t have time to try getting it balanced and setup as they’d have liked. It was a great result to only lose two points on Menzel’s lead following the afternoon race.”
“And it was hot – humid – every bit of uncomfortable you could imagine. The cool suit and helmet blower got a great test.” At the calendar half-way mark, Baird is second overall in his first full season of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series, 18 points behind defending champion Christian Menzel (GER).
With a two-month break until the seventh and eighth rounds for the 2010 title, Baird and his Auckland based crew will again have a new venue to learn – the Korean International Circuit, based in Yeongam County, South Korea (27 – 29 August).