Rookie South African driver Aston Hare is crowned the JK Racing Asia Series 2012 Champion after a dramatic end to the final race of the JK Racing Asia Series Championship. Hare snatched the Championship from his Eurointernational teammate, Nabil Jeffri after Jeffri was hit by fierce rival, Afiq Ikhwan just two laps from the end of the race.
The race started out clean with Hare making a perfect start and keeping the lead. He was followed closely by Afiq Ikhwan and Aditya Patel, as Akhil Khushlani was followed by Aidan Wright. Jeffri who started the race in seventh was already up to fifth.
On the second lap, Jeffri made a move on the battling Khushlani and Wright taking them both in one manoeuvre at turn four for fourth. Then Jeffri started to make his move on Patel taking to the inside of turn 1 for third but could not make the move stick.
On the next lap Jeffri found a way past Patel to move up to third, whilst behind them Khushlani and Wright continued to fight for fifth.
Jeffri caught up to Ikhwan on lap six and began to make his move on the long straight into turn four taking Ikhwan for second at the turn. From there the Championship would have been his but heading into the last turn of the second last lap, Jeffri was collected from behind ending both of their races on the spot and destroying Jeffri’s Championship.
Up ahead, Hare began to have some mechanical problems and started to lose time, slowing him down and allowing Patel to catch up and overtake him for the win, causing the stands to erupt. Patel maintained the lead right to the flag taking the win for India, with Hare crossing behind him and Wright maintaining his position ahead of Khushlani for third and fourth respectively.
Hare, who is usually calm even when he wins, finally registered a moment of triumph when he jumped out of the car and hugged his Team Principal, Antonio Ferrari and his mother, Kim Montgomery after the race was over.
Aditya Patel – 1st place Rd16
“It’s always nice to win the last race of the year, ending everything on a high is a great feeling looking forward to what we have for next year and we are taking it from there. There was a lot of dicing going on in the front between Aston, Nabil and Afiq and I was right behind them just waiting for something to happen and then there was contact between Afiq and Nabil which got me right behind Aston. Down the back straight I managed to slipstream and get by and from there I just looked in front and kept going. When I was leading the race, I was looking forward to see if there was anyone up ahead of me then it hit me that I was leading the race and I shouldn’t make any mistakes. Even on the last lap I gave it 100%.”
Aston Hare – 2nd place Rd16 & JK Racing Asia Series Champion
Speaking of the Championship win – “I’m feeling pretty good but obviously it hasn’t sunk in yet so hopefully tomorrow it will sink in a bit. I’m happy now and I am going to celebrate a little bit. I get the Rookie and Overall Championships so I am pretty happy with it.”
On the race, “We got off the lines finally, four good starts and from there I just controlled the pace. Then for some reason my car started falling off, one of the laps I fell off four seconds then the next lap was another three point three seconds. I don’t know what happened to the car. We had a little bit of a problem before the race that they were actually able to fix so we just have to look into to see what happened because I was really struggling with the car and I was lucky to bring it home. I’m thankful for that.”
Aidan Wright – 3rd place Rd 16
“It’s a great way to end the year of racing, I’ve been trying so hard just to get the podium to finally get through to get third is great. Throughout the race I got the feeling that I wasn’t going to get it because I had great drivers in front of me but with the accident at the end, I came through to third.”
Nabil Jeffri – 2nd in Championship
“It was a very interesting last race. I started well in seventh and the first few laps I was already in fifth and I was catching up to the front. By the eighth lap I was already second, which was what I needed. Then on the eighth lap itself Afiq came from the back and T-boned me and I was out of the race. He gave me a DNF which made me lose the Championship to Aston. I am very angry at him, but that’s the way it is.”
Afiq Ikhwan – 3rd in Championship
“First of all I would like to congratulate Aston and credit him for doing a good job. I would like to wish him the best of luck for the future and I hope I can race him again in future. I would like to thank my sponsor Petronas for giving me the opportunity and for believing in me allowing me to showcase my talent in this Junior Formula Series and I hope they will continue to support me in a higher level. I also would like to thank my team for believing in me and for all their support for this past three years.”
JK Tyre & Industries, the leading tyre manufacturer in India, is the title partner for the JK Racing Asia Series.
The JK Racing Asia Series is supported by Cody Maxx, SPA Design and official logistics agent, JAS Worldwide.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia