It was an outstanding end to the JK Racing Asia Series weekend at Buddh International Circuit for Eurointernational when three of their drivers stepped up to the podium after an exciting battle filled Round 12 race.
Aston Hare cemented his Rookie Championship in style when he crossed the finish line first, ahead of teammates Aditya Patel and Danial Hidzir making it an Eurointernational clean sweep of the podium.
Meritus.GP driver Afiq Ikhwan finished fourth after fighting hard despite losing power midway through the race while Nabil Jeffri, who led at the start of the race was given a drive through penalty for a jump start infringement. He served his penalty on lap 5 and finished the race in eighth.
The win was a surprise for Hare as he did not know of Jeffri’s drive through, thinking that he was too far up ahead to be seen when he took the lead. “After the first lap I actually didn’t get a good start again, its just something that I need to work on. After the first lap I dropped down to fifth and I had to work to pass Earl Bamber and Afiq at the time, it really wasn’t that easy to be honest, I really had to fight throughout the race.
“And when the race came to an end, I didn’t even know I was first, I thought I was second. So when Antonio told me I was first I was just so happy, you wouldn’t understand. Especially straight after coming off an injury, something I didn’t expect,” said Hare.
The 16 year old South African continued, “before the race I had a long chat with my coach, Wesleigh Orr, and he told me, at the end of the long straight and into turn 3 just get the slipstream behind the other guy, can’t actually brake much there, so push him a little to the inside and that actually played well into my hands. I can’t wait to come back, definitely learning about the different cultures that’s here, its been quite an interesting experience,” ended Hare.
For the home grown hero, Patel was all smiles after the race and was unable to move without being congratulated all the way back to the paddock. He made his country proud and was delighted to be given the chance to race in the Series once again “It’s a great feeling again, just like yesterday being on the podium here in front of my home crowd and to do it again today is such a brilliant feeling.”
Speaking of the race, Patel said, “it’s such a hard race because on the first lap I fought with Nabil and Afiq. I managed to get past Afiq on turn 5 where I didn’t do yesterday. I realised last night what my mistake was and tried correcting it and it worked today and I got past Afiq there. Then after that Afiq and Aston caught up to me, they caught me in the slipstream and the race became a little bit tight from there. Fighting right through the race I ruined my tyres a bit early and I think after six laps I was sliding all over the place so it was really hard for me to keep Aston behind. Because we are teammates and the last thing teammates want to do is take each other off or something. It was the best I could do, I tried defending for a while but Aston was definitely quicker so no point really doing anything stupid so second is pretty good,” ended Patel.
It was a hard fight to the podium finish for Hidzir, the Malaysian kept his promise of finishing in top three and could not stop smiling. At the post race interview, he spoke of his race, “I had an okay start, it wasn’t really good actually to be honest, it was one of my worst starts. I don’t know why, probably because yesterday my throttle cable got stuck and I was afraid that it would happen again. So I just held on to my limiter a little ‘nicely’.”
“Turn 1 was a little messy so I just kept telling myself to have a clear start progressively and not to rush. But then at turn 3 I had a collision with Akhil, I managed to overtake him. After that I was just fighting with Earl Bamber for three laps, it was a really long fight. He was good, he knows how to stay ahead but I managed to catch him at turn 5 and progressively push hard. Then I caught up to Afiq, and just kept progressively pushing after him. I almost finished P2 but there wasn’t enough laps,” said Hidzir.
“It was a good race, I really enjoyed it. My first F1 podium, it is an amazing feeling. I would like to thank my father, Century, Tan Wei Ron’s father for bringing me here and the trophy would make a nice gift for my mother who just got engaged yesterday. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for her” he ended.
Coming in fourth, Ikhwan was walking around with a sad smile as he had the opportunity for a win. “It was a very difficult race today. I was very unlucky, the car had no pace. We made some changes yesterday but the changes didn’t work very well for the race today. But overall I am happy with my results this weekend, a win yesterday and I can only thank my team and my sponsor, Petronas, for it.”
Aidan Wright impressed everyone with his pace this weekend, running at the top with the leading drivers most of the qualifying session and throughout both races. The Australian Meritus.GP driver fought hard to maintain his pace and finished fifth from an eighth placed start.
For Calvin Wong, being away from the Series for two years and having a drive this weekend proved that he is still able to impress, finishing sixth. He was happy with the opportunity and was in the middle of some nice battles throughout the race. He, along with US Formula Project teammate, Ashraff Dewal, are both heading home happy with the outcome of the weekend and having the chance to race at Buddh during the Formula 1.
Khushlani, who started the weekend well, setting the fastest time during the practice session on Friday could only manage a seventh placed finish. Luck was once again not on his side as he just encountered problems from Saturday’s Qualifying session on. But the Eurointernational driver was okay with the results as he knows he has the pace, saying, “I had a little bit of bad luck in race 2 again. I got hit in the back and so my alignment was all over the place and I just didn’t have the pace through the race. I was just fighting all the way through and eventually finished seventh so it was pretty okay.”
Despite the results, Jeffri had to be contented with the fact that he collected some valuable points for the Championship. “That was the best first few laps for me this season and I was really at the top of my game. I pushed really hard the first few laps like what I am supposed to do but on lap 4 I was given a drive through penalty, which I think I wasn’t supposed to be given, I don’t think I moved.”
“I was aiming for the win, and not just a win, a win in India and in F1 with a five seconds gap for sure. Opportunities like this don’t come very often for sure and when they do come to you, you have to grab it with two hands. Well, it’s all right, that’s racing and sometimes you just have to be unlucky,” ended Jeffri who eventually finished the race in eighth.
Raj Bharath and Visnu Prasad of Meco Racing finished ninth and tenth with Toby Earle of Meritus.GP, Karminder Pal Singh of Mahara, Akhil Rabindra of Meco and Dewal completing the finishers of the day.
The JK Racing Asia Series will continue at Buddh once again for the 2012 Season finale with Rounds 13-16 from 30th November to 2nd December 2012.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia