The 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia campaign of three-time champions PICC Team StarChase and 17-year-old sportscar rookie Nico Menzel saw the team leap five places up the leaderboard to fourth overall in the title chase after two rounds at the technical, unforgiving 5.6km Korea International Circuit.
Gaining in confidence and pace each time he takes to the track in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991), Nico, son of two-time champion Christian who earned both his titles with the team, showed impressive consistency throughout the double-header weekend, proving he is only going to get quicker as the season progresses.
Qualifying on the second row for Round 3, Nico’s best time was just a little over half a second off pole. A second quick lap in the session also secured the team a Row 2 start for the Round 4, an impressive performance which illustrated Nico’s increasing confidence in just his second weekend of sportscar competition.
In the first race, Nico stayed clear of trouble, focusing on an error-free run and collecting championship points for fifth to move his team up the leaderboard. Quickly getting the measure of the F1-standard track, which requires acute mental focus to master, Round 4 saw another strong performance bring a fourth-place finish, with Nico and the team edging ever closer towards a maiden podium which cannot be far away.
Said Nico: “We had good pace in qualifying. The car set-up was quite aggressive, so it was tough to put the sectors together but we got in one very quick lap. In the first race, the car was perhaps still a little aggressive and I admit I made a few mistakes, but the result was encouraging. Sunday was much better and PICC Team StarChase really helped me make big improvements. The car felt great all weekend.”
Although new to the race tracks of Asia, this time virtually the entire 28-car Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field was faced with an unfamiliar circuit and Nico’s youth and razor-sharp intelligence saw him quickly get the measure of the country’s most prestigious race facility. “It’s a really difficult track,” he said. “It’s not like a ‘normal’ circuit. Here, if you make a small mistake at one turn, there is a knock-on effect throughout the whole lap. It’s an intense mix of tight and then fast connected corners and you have to get every turn absolutely right every time. It’s a great challenge and we definitely showed we have the speed here. I feel more comfortable in the car and we’re definitely going in the right direction. Step by step, that’s the plan.”
Said StarChase Chief Operations Officer Mr. Robby Niermann: “PICC Team StarChase is making excellent progress and Nico is showing more of his exciting potential each time he takes to the track. To climb five places up the leaderboard in one weekend in a championship as intensely competitive as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is quite an achievement, and we look forward to carrying the momentum into the next rounds in Japan.”
Rounds 5&6 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be held at the Fuji International Speedway from June 5-7, where PICC Team StarChase and Nico will face a whole new set of challenges in the region’s premier sportscar championship.