New circuit poses new challenges for Championship challengers

Published on October 24th, 2011

The battle for the first JK Racing Asia Series Champion title continues at the new Buddh International Circuit between multiple race winners Lucas Auer and Afiq Ikhwan. Only nine points separates the duo heading into Rounds 13 & 14 watched by millions of Formula 1 fans during the 2011 Formula 1 Airtel Grand Prix Of India.

Eight new faces will join the JK Racing Asia Series (formerly known as Formula BMW Pacific) line-up over the weekend, with six Indian drivers in India’s own race teams. Meco Racing will announced the participation of Rahil Noorani, Shashank Ravishankar, Mohit Ahuja and Sarosh Hataria. While its ‘sister’ team Meco’s Ministry of Speed, will have Vishnu Prasad and Sandeep Kumar.

Another driver flying the Indian flag is no stranger to the FB02 cars having participated in the Formula BMW series from 2007 to 2009. Akhil Khushlani has advantage over the rest of the new drivers and the Hyderabad native will make his return in the familiar race craft with Meritus.GP as a guest driver.

Joining the line-up for the first time is Italian driver, Lorenzo Camplese who will partner with Austrian wonder-boy Auer in Eurointernational. Camplese is a talented young driver who has made an impressive climb up the ranks from karting. The 17-year old is currently in his second season of Formula Abarth European Series.

The eight will further add excitement to the already highly anticipated race weekend where all drivers will face the circuit for the first time. The purpose-built 5.137-kilometre circuit was designed by famed circuit designer, Hermann Tilke.

Couple that with the intense heat and new tarmac and the Buddh International Circuit will further rev up the intensity of the Championship battle.

All eyes will be on the current Championship leader after he had a less than stellar-ending to his Singapore GP weekend. Many questioned if he is cracking under pressure but those in the paddock and who are close to the young driver know it was just bad luck. They have confidence that the highly-talented 17 year old, who is also the Rookie Championship leader, will bounce back to take charge of the weekend in India.

But it will not be easy, as Meritus.GP driver, Ikhwan, is coming off two very successful outings and with a tally of six back-to-back wins. The Malaysian is quickly catching up to Auer and has closed the gap to only a nine-point margin after Singapore. The 20 year old have also shown great strength, levelheadedness and determination heading into the final two race weekends.

Third in the points is Petronas Mofaz Racing driver, Nabil Jeffri, who just celebrated his 18th Birthday on 24th October. Being presented with the winning trophy would be an especially nice Birthday present if he can repeat his outstanding performance at the start of the season. He was the first to win the JK Racing Asia Series race this year but have yet to claim another.

The only other driver within a chance of winning the Championship is Australian, Duvashen Padayachee. The Eurasia Motorsport driver finally broke the duck in the last race claiming his first podium finish despite strong finishes this season. Padayachee is eager to continue the season on a high and with six races to go, he will need all the points to continue to challenge for the title.

Four rookie drivers are behind Padayachee in the points, and with only 11 points separating them. Petronas Mofaz Racing’s Irfan leads the charge, eight points ahead of compatriot and teammate Hiqmar Danial while the youngest driver in the mix, Akash Nandy fends off Freddie Ang in eighth.

Eurasia Motorsport drivers tally up the top ten with Champion karter Aaron Chang in ninth while the lone female driver, Natasha Seatter shares tenth with Thailand’s Pasin Lathouras.

The JK Racing Asia Series will continue with Rounds 13 & 14 at the newly built Buddh International Circuit. Qualifying is scheduled to be held on Saturday, 29th October at 9.15am while Round 13 will be held on the same day at 3.30pm local time. Round 14 is scheduled for Sunday, 30th October at noon.

JK Tyre & Industries, the leading tyre manufacturer in India, is the title partner for the JK Racing Asia Series. The Series is also supported by AirAsia, Asia’s leading low-cost carrier.

The JK Racing Asia Series is currently the only Junior Formula that provides a unique opportunity where the drivers are given a platform to compete in front of the Formula One fraternity. On three occasions the JK Racing Asia Series will support Formula One Grand Prix, in Malaysia, Singapore and the newly built circuit in India.

The JK Racing Asia Series is organised by Motorsport Asia Ltd.

words & pix: Motorsport Asia

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