Nabil Jeffri impressed everyone at the Spa Francorchamps circuit today in Belgium when he set a scorching pace to claim pole position for Rounds 7 & 8 of the JK Racing Asia Series. The Malaysian set a fastest time of 2:32.609 at the 7.004km circuit, with a gap of 0.565 seconds ahead of his Eurointernational teammate, Aston Hare.
Jeffri, driving the number 1 car, also set the second best time and was happy with the results of the day and credited the work to his team and also to the practice on simulators before arriving here. “I really love Spa. It is one of my favourite circuits since I was really young. I looked at the circuit because of all the good drivers that were here before. I really love the circuit so I am really happy with the results of the Qualifying. Two poles for the races and in the morning I was fastest for the practice and I couldn’t ask for anything better. For now I hope to win the races tomorrow.
“I was just very comfortable with the car and the circuit was fast flowing everywhere. I wasn’t pushing as hard as I was in Paul Ricard or anything, I just drove the car really well I think. I feel very one with the car and it feels very good” he said all smiles after the Qualifying.
“I spent hours everyday before coming to Spa because the practice we had was just thirty minutes, so yeah, I spent a lot of time on the simulators and watching videos and stuff like that. The preparations was key for me so that I can come here to just do the job” he ended.
Rookie driver, Aston Hare will line up beside him on the grid. Despite coming in second, he was a little disappointed when he didn’t get the pole position for the races. “We were not so good in the free practice but second is not so bad, we can start the race from there, see how it goes tomorrow.
“I’m a Rookie, so it takes quite a bit of time to get used to the track so I’m just trying to find the limits of the car but it wasn’t so bad.”
When asked how he is enjoying racing in Europe, the South African said “It’s a good opportunity to come racing in Europe. You see all the big teams here, it’s a very big learning step but its really really good and I should come more often to Europe.”
“We are only nine points behind and there are many races to go and there is still a definite chance to win the Championship we are obviously taking it race by race and just keep working progressively and pull off the win at the end of the year,” he ended.
Third on the grid is another Eurointernational driver, Irfan Ilyas. Another driver who considers Spa his favourite was happy to start on the second row behind his teammates. “Yeah, I’m quite happy because top four is the best positions to qualify for Spa because after the Eau Rouge, anything can happen, everyone will slipstream each other.
“The track was a bit better during the qualifying session and our times were faster. And I think after the GT cars and the Formula 3 with all the rubber on the track we were getting slower.
Halfway through the Qualifying, Ilyas came in to change the set of tyres and went quicker to set his best time on his second lap out. “After the second session of the qualifying, we did some small setup changes and we went faster after that.
“I’ve been training for Spa since after Paul Ricard and this is my favourite track. I’ve been wanting to drive here since 2002 when Michael Schumacher drove here and won. All the training with Roman of Fitrace was really worth it, we did a lot of fitness training and mental conditioning.
Starting in fourth is Afiq Ikhwan of Meritus.GP who set the fastest time of 2:33.443. The fourth place was a consolation after the hard morning that he and his team had been facing. “it’s really good for me and for my team. We were struggling to find the setup and now we are still trying to see what happened. Now we are trying harder to bring it to the race.
“The balance of the car is what we are looking at. It is a very fast track with slow speed corners so it is a bit confusing for us. But we are trying hard to find the setup.”
“I think this is one of the best tracks I’ve raced at in Europe. It is challenging and I like it so much. I just need to make everything perfect for tomorrow,” ended Ikhwan.
A second South African driver, Ernie Van der Walt of Meritus.GP set the fifth fastest time of the day to line up on row three with Eurointernational’s Tan Wei Ron in sixth. Van der Walt was happy with the result and had fun on the Eau Rouge. “I think its one of the longest race tracks that JK Racing races on so its quite difficult to learn the tracks but its awesome track, especially Eau Rouge, the fast corner.
Starting seventh is Indian driver, Aditya Patel driving for US Formula Project. Jumping in the car with no practice, he set impressive times to qualify in the mid-pack for both races.
Patel was happy with the results and aims to finish in the top five if not better. “Like I said before, when I got to Paul Ricard, its been four years since I got into a single seater so its not too bad. This is my second weekend getting into the car without any testing, so to be there in the midfield is pretty decent I guess.
For Patel, the hardest thing to get used to is the weight of the car. “I’ve been driving tin-tops for the past two years and the weight of the car is about a thousand three hundred kilos or something and this weighs like half of that. It’s a rear wheel drive, sequential gearbox, no power steering, nothing to keep me comfortable really, so its quite a hard job getting into it but I guess once I follow the basics everything falls in place”.
Danial Hidzir will line up beside Patel on row four, ahead of his Eurasia Motorsport teammate Josh Raneri and Meritus.GP’s Thai driver, Toby Earle.
Closing up the grid is Meritus.GP’s Aidan Wright, Earl Bamber driving for Mahara and Belgium’s Alexis Van De Poele driving for Eurasia Motorsport, will start in thirteenth after missing the practice session.
The JK Racing Asia Series Race 1 (Round7) is scheduled to be held on Friday, 27th July at 10.55am whilst Race 2 (Round8) is scheduled for Saturday, 28th July at 9.55am.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia