Malaysian driver Nabil Jeffri claimed the win in the most exciting race of the JK Racing Asia Series Season so far at the Paul Ricard Circuit today. Jeffri of Eurointernational crossed the line ahead of Meritus.GP driver Ernie Van Der Walt and Tan Wei Ron who claimed third for Eurointernational in Round 5 held this morning.
Tan had a brilliant start moving up to second from fourth on the first lap with Jeffri following him close behind but Jeffri found a way past to claim second.
At the same time, pole sitter Afiq Yazid was given a drive through penalty for being out of position at the start, which he served on the third lap dropping him down to the end of the pack. He then fought all the way throughout the race to finish in ninth. This gave Jeffri the lead, which he held all the way to the chequered flag.
“I would like to thank the team, it was a very good car. I had a very good start which made me second or third in the first corner and I managed right away to break away from the pack which gave me a good advantage,” said Jeffri at the post race press conference.
“Throughout the race I kept on pushing, the first five laps was very important and the team came on the radio and said ‘keep on pushing, we know you can win. Win! Win! Win!’ so I just kept on pushing the first five laps.”
“I took Ron in the first few laps even though he is my teammate, on the track he is my rival. It was a good fight.”
Jeffri was elated with the win citing, “Its very prestigious to be here at Paul Ricard where all the great drivers have been before me and on the same podium, so its very prestigious winning here”.
Behind him the fight continued between Tan, his teammate Aston Hare and Van Der Walt. The trio put on a good show at the start of the race with the South African duo of Van Der Walt and Hare battling for third. Van Der Walt found an opening taking Hare on lap three before beginning to bear down on Tan.
The duo fought for a few laps before Van Der Walt found a way past taking second on lap seven.
“It feels really good and I am excited and extremely happy about being on the podium and it’s a different feeling. I can’t believe it. Starting from sixth and finishing in second.”
“I made a mistake in the early laps that’s why the guys ahead got away, I believe for the next race I will be quick and better off the start and wont make mistakes,” ended Van Der Walt at the post race press conference.
Tan meanwhile was happy with his first podium finish despite losing second place to Van Der Walt. “I had a pretty good start, came in second after the second turn and I tried to hold that position until Nabil overtook me but he overtook fair and square so I just tried to stay with him as long as I could. Then after a few laps, Afiq had a penalty and I was in second place again.”
“I was pretty happy where I was but I tried to catch Nabil but the pace wasn’t there yet and then Ernie came pretty quick from the back and overtook so I just maintained third to the end of the race.”
Behind them, Hare maintained a steady pace with his Eurointernational teammate Irfan Ilyas close behind in fifth where they remained throughout the race.
It was the pack of four behind them that provided the most excitement throughout the race, battling for sixth were the three US Formula Project drivers, with Aidan Wright of Meritus.GP in the mix. Sean Walkinshaw, Wright, Aditya Patel and Chris Vlock changed positions, used the curbs and even parts of the grass, drove nose to tail with one another from the midway point of the race right to the chequered flag providing some hair raising moments. In the end, Walkinshaw maintained his hard fought sixth place followed by Wright, Patel and a recovering Yazid, who managed to fight his way up from last, with Vlock in tenth.
Patel said of the battle, “That was super fun. Right from the beginning I kept gaining places, losing places, gaining places and losing them again. In the end I made a little mistake trying to pass Sean, went off the track and lost another place. Overall it was a good race and I really enjoyed it”.
Patel will start the next race in ninth amongst the same group again, and is looking forward to another great outing. “It should be good fun. Everybody is pretty quick and I need to improve my pace a bit so if I can gain a few places at the start that will be great but then everybody is really quick,” he ended with a great smile.
Hiqmar Danial Hidzir and his Eurasia Motorsport teammate, Josh Raneri, made contact at turn 9 ending Raneri’s race with Hidzir dropping down the grid. He finished the race in eleventh ahead of Toby Earle, who had an engine change yesterday missing the Qualifying session and having to start at the end of the pack.
French karting driver, Bizalion Charly gained good experience with the Mahara team running a clean race finishing thirteenth in his first outing.
The JK Racing Asia Series continues with Round 6 held later today at 5.40pm (local time).