Leading New Zealand race driver Craig Baird returns to Singapore unsure how the VnC Cocktails - SC Global Porsche 911 will perform at this weekend's Formula One SingTel Grand Prix following transit damage to the championship contender's car.
There to contest the penultimate round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia(PCCA) on the street course used during the night Formula One race, Baird says his championship aspirations rest largely with his Triple X team being able to get the car ready for action.
His car initially suffered significant chassis damage in the first race of the previous round held at Zhuhai (China), in June. Sent to a Porsche repair centre in China, it was returned to factory condition ready for the journey to Singapore. En-route to Beijing, ahead of its sea journey, Baird’s containered car sustained further and fresh damage during a truck accident that resulted in fatal injuries for its driver. Damage assessments are inconclusive, with the shipping of the car a first priority.
Circumstances now require Baird and his Triple X Motorsport team to alter their travel arrangements and head to Singapore earlier than initially allowed. Aside from cosmetic damage, the team need to assess the car’s race condition by measuring its datum points for alignment.
“We need to get it as close as possible if we're to use any of the data gained so far this season,” said Baird of his situation. “Otherwise we're starting from scratch; it's just so unknown at this stage, we're relying on so many others outside the team's control.”
Currently second in the 2010 PCCA championship standings with two events left to contest, the 40-year-old Kiwi currently trails the defending title holder Christian Menzel from Germany by 18 points.
Against a stellar line-up this weekend that includes former champion, Darryl O'Young from Hong Kong, Marchy Lee and Rodolfo Avila are also rated as some of the better racers in the Asia-Pacific region. Although Baird does have the benefit of past form: it's the only event on the six scheduled for 2010 the ex-pat Kiwi has contested before.
Finishing second overall in 2009 to Menzel on the Singapore streets, Baird says the night atmosphere is a great one for drivers.
“The atmosphere surrounding the event is a good distraction for young bucks; cool hands are rewarded. So it's the best opportunity of the year to put the VnC Cocktails - SC Global car at the front given the result from last year, if the dice rolls our way.”
Following the scratching of the Korean round scheduled for August, Singapore now becomes the fifth event Baird and his New Zealand team contest for their inaugural 2010 Asian title chase.
With only one 30-minute practice late on Friday around the 5.073 kilometre circuit set in Marina Bay, Baird head's in to qualifying at 3.30pm on Saturday with the first 12-lap race run just 90 minutes later. The second and final race of the weekend is just prior to the start of Sunday's Formula One night Grand Prix.
2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – points after six (of 10) rounds – top five.
1, Christian MENZEL , GER, 98
2, Craig BAIRD, NZL, 80
3, MOK Weng Sun, SIN, 74
4, Marchy LEE, HKG, 74
5, Keita SAWA , JPN, 55