HK's Marsh seeks backer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am

Former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Matthew Marsh is stalled on the grid, without a sponsor for this year's series.

The Hong Kong-based driver, who won the Cup in 2004, is desperately seeking a backer to help him compete in the first race of the series in Malaysia on March 17.

'A Malaysian businessman that is close to the series has agreed to buy a car for me to drive, if I can find the running costs,' said Marsh. Those costs, which include a crew of mechanics, fuel, tyres and various expenses, amount to more than Euro160,000 ($1.4 million) for the 12-race series around Asia.

A car costs about Euro130,000.

The 37-year-old lost the support of his sponsor, mainland beverage company A-Ha Coffee, last month - a week before testing in Malaysia and a month before the series opener, which is a supporting act to the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

'A-Ha pulled out because they've already positioned their brand,' said Marsh, who finished a close fourth in the series last year. 'They told me they're not doing Carrera Cup Asia and that they'd like to reallocate their budget.

'They have been the perfect sponsors. It was a great two years and we have both achieved a lot of success. But I wished they had told me earlier - maybe as early as November last year - because I could have found a sponsor in time,' said the Briton, who has called Hong Kong his home for more than 15 years.

'I have approached about 10 companies, but I still haven't been able to find support yet,' he said.

But he is confident he will get the money together.

'As long as I've got the money before the race, then I'm in the championship. I'm pretty confident I can get something together for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

'Everything in life is about marketing. I believe the Carrera Cup is a strong marketing tool for companies wishing to establish or position a brand. And I think people in Hong Kong tend to be quick thinking and brave, so I know companies will see the benefits of sponsoring me,' he said.

Marsh is also leading Hong Kong's bid to compete in the Le Mans 24-Hour race in June, but is not confident of securing a place after they missed selection in the first round, which saw 38 of the 50 teams chosen.

He is hoping to be among the final 12 teams, or the eight reserves, when the final line-up is announced on March 20.