Two exciting battles were won by two drivers from reigning team Champions, Eurointernational, at the opening rounds of the JK Racing Asia Series 2012 Season in Malaysia.
Nabil Jeffri repeated his feat from the 2011 Season by claiming the first win, this time for Eurointernational while his teammate, Aston Hare claimed the win in Round 2 after a last turn incident involving the two lead cars.
In round 1, Malaysian driver Nabil Jeffri claimed the first win of the season from pole and was not challenged throughout the race. He maintained a good pace throughout the ten lap race to keep closest rival, Meritus.GP driver, Afiq Ikhwan Yazid, behind him all the way to the chequered flag.
“First of all, I would like to thank the team. It is a very good car compared to yesterday (qualifying). I did a good start, Afiq was close throughout the whole race and despite the last few laps, I think I did well maintaining my pace” said Jeffri at the post race press conference.
For Yazid, after thanking his team and sponsor Petronas, he said “It was a tough race as both of us (referring to Nabil) had the same pace. For the first five laps I just kept on pushing Nabil and when I saw the gap was still the same, I just relaxed to save my tyres for the next race”.
Eurointernational Rookie driver, South African Aston Hare finished third after defending his position from two battling Malaysians, Irfan Ilyas and Akash Nandy. He was surprised with his podium but was thankful to his team for a great car. “It’s a good experience, my first race in JK Racing Series and I’ve still got a lot to learn.
“I definitely had a good battle with Irfan and Akash and at the end I managed to pull a gap. I think the next race we will be strong and better and aim for first” ended Hare.
In round 2, Yazid led the race from pole with a slight gap on Jeffri, who was then running in second. Jeffri closed the gap towards the end of the race when on the last turn of the last lap, they made contact. Both drivers were stuck in the middle of the track with Yazid’s car stalling ending his race. Jeffri managed to rejoin to finish in sixth.
The incident left Hare, who was running in third throughout the race to claim his first win, putting him at the head of the Championship points table on his first ever race weekend.
“It’s a good feeling. I didn’t expect a win so early in the season and we weren’t exactly on the pace. Unlucky for Afiq and Nabil but racing’s racing, you’ve got to take it.
“We made a few changes to the car and it definitely worked. The car started off quick and definitely had more pace” he ended with a smile.
Despite finishing on the podium in second, Nandy was happy to gain points for the team but was not too happy with his overall race. “I had a very good fight with Irfan, after I passed him and Aston was too far away, I just kept my position. We had the pace it’s just my start wasn’t as great as I thought it could be” he ended grimly.
Ilyas was a bit more upbeat as he got a good start and ended on the podium. “My start was better than the first race. I saw Aston had a big gap from the start so I thought my next target was Akash.
“Throughout the race I was losing on the straight, my engineer said there were problems with my engine, probably from the incident in the first race, when my radiators were filled with grass after my off and we saw 130 degrees engine temperature” he ended.
Indian drivers, Raj Bharath and Vishnu Prakash were both still managing to improve their pace. Bharath improved his time but was still not where he wants to be at the end of Round 1 but was able to catch up to the mid pack halfway through Round 2.
Luck was not on his side as soon as he caught up to ninth placed Calvin Seibl and made his move to overtake, there was a yellow flag and Bharath was given a 30 second penalty for overtaking under yellow.
“I started eleventh and then I was up to tenth and then in the last lap at the last corner I moved up to ninth but there was a yellow flag, so I got a 30-seconds penalty. My race was screwed up, pretty much” he said dejectedly.
The JK Racing Asia Series continues on Sunday, 27 May 2012 with Round 3 at 10.15am (Malaysian time) and Round 4 at 2.10pm.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia