Malaysian driver Afiq Ikhwan claimed pole at the historic Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Friday for JK Racing Asia Series Round 9. The Petronas backed Meritus.GP driver looks to be back on form after a difficult season so far that has left him fourth in the points table.
“I would like to thank the team, my sponsor Petronas, my crew members who all worked very had for this qualifying and this event,” said Ikhwan after the session.
“Qualifying pole in Silverstone is brilliant for me and I am so happy. I am happy with the car, we had a good pace here.”
He acknowledged the hard races he had the past few outings and was thankful that he and his team managed to overcome them. “We fixed all the problems that we had in the previous races, in Spa we had a broken anti-roll bar but just now it was just perfect and I am looking forward for both races.”
“I need to score points to be on top again so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. We had good pace, five tenths quicker than the second placed guy,” he ended.
Hiqmar Danial went through a team change this weekend from Eurasia Motorsport to Eurointernational. He saw a change in his performance and was quick to credit his team’s great effort for his second placed start for Round 9. “Obviously I just changed teams, my dad decided on the change.”
“The team treats me really well and I had a warm welcome from them. From the moment I came here, Antonio Ferrari really put in the effort for me to be here and when I got here, he worked hard for me. I can see his effort, which is a reason why I am in front. The mechanics and engineers worked really hard for me so a big thank you to them.”
Speaking of the session, Danial was a little dejected at the end result, “It was a really close qualifying. I was P1 for a few times at the start, the last lap I could have been in pole but I screwed up the last sector.”
But the youngster vowed to make the best of the race this weekend. “We will see the data and see where we can improve and hope for the win tomorrow.”
Current Championship leader, Nabil Jeffri set the third fastest time but was given a one grid demotion for having four wheels off the track edge twice during the session. Fellow Malaysian and Eurointernational teammate, Irfan Ilyas, was given a two grid demotion for the same infringement which he repeated four times.
The penalties pushes Tan Wei Ron up the grid to third whilst Indian Akhil Khushlani and Briton Jack Dex are up to fifth and sixth respectively leaving Ilyas in seventh.
When asked about qualifying on row two, Tan was happy with the outcome. “I am pretty excited. Tomorrow’s race will tell a different story from today’s qualifying.”
“It’s a very nice circuit, its very fast and physical and I think every driver enjoys it, so do I. You don’t really get this weather in the UK so we are really lucky this weekend with 25 degrees and sunshine the whole day, so we’ll try to make full use of it.”
For Khushlani, it’s been a tough journey of getting reacquainted with racing after doing tests and keeping busy starting his business over the past year. “I qualified sixth and I am actually quite happy with my result as I did not manage the practice.”
“Being one second off the pole position after one year of not driving, I feel good and confident. I am going to play catch up for the races and see how it comes out.”
The US Formula Project driver is enjoying his return to racing. “The circuit is interesting and fast and tiring I must say. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s been one year, I am lucky I coped well with it and I really do like this track.”
The JK Racing Asia Series Round 9 is scheduled to be held at 2.05pm (local time) on Saturday, 8th September 2012 with Round 10 scheduled for Sunday, 9th September 2012.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia