It was an intense battle all the way to the end in the JK Racing Asia Series Round 6 at Paul Ricard Circuit where the top three drivers battled all the way from the start to finish.
Despite going almost all the way off the track right at the last turn of the last lap in a heated battle, Afiq Ikhwan Yazid managed to regain his position to cross the finish line for the win ahead of the two Eurointernational drivers, Nabil Jeffri and Aston Hare.
Yazid driving for Meritus.GP gave a stellar performance from the start getting a better start off the line and immediately taking the lead before the first turn from pole sitter Hare.
From there, Hare and Jeffri had an ongoing battle overtaking one another throughout the race while maintaining a very close pace to the lead car of Yazid. Their battle gave a little bit of breathing space to Yazid but not enough for him to relax and right at the last lap, the trio got into a heated battle for the win.
Then in a last minute effort, Jeffri, who at that time was ahead of Hare, tried one last overtaking manoeuvre on Yazid, leaving the leader to drive wide into the Blue Zone. Yazid managed to catch himself to regain his lead at the straight right before the chequered flag to cross the line for first.
“I’ve been through so many hard races this year and this is my first podium. I would like to thank my team for putting in so much effort and my sponsor Petronas.”
“This race was a good race, both the Eurointernational drivers had really good pace so they gave me a lot of pressure but I just did my job, kept my time consistent to finish the race.”
“I really enjoyed this weekend and I am looking forward to the next race,” ended Yazid.
For Jeffri, he looked a little disappointed at the outcome of the race but chalked it up to experience and to remind himself to maintain his concentration on the Championship. “It was an interesting race for me this season. I was very lucky to finish second. Obviously I would like to finish first but what is important are the points. So far I am leading the Championship by seven points and that is my goal for this weekend which I think I accomplished very well.
“We had the pace to win for sure but I was so busy fighting with Aston and Aston was so busy fighting with me that we forgot that someone was running away from us. Afiq did a really good race. I would like to thank Eurointernational for this weekend,” he ended.
“The last corner incident was really interesting because I really had to win and he didn’t want to finish second so I tried my best to win. I was on the inside line and we had contact but today was a racing incident and I think we will do better in Spa to win both races,” he ended.
Pole sitter Hare was a little disappointed with the start but was glad to finish on the podium after the tough race with his teammate. “It wasn’t a really good start, Afiq passed me. I think we had a really good pace but obviously we weren’t able to use it to the maximum.”
“Afiq and Nabil put on a really good show, they were really quick as well. Nabil passed me in the chicane after that it was who could get the best turn and passed. I think it was a really good race and we will see how it goes in Spa,” he ended.
Behind them Eurointernational’s Irfan Ilyas and Meritus.GP’s Eric Van Der Walt provided much of the excitement as they battled throughout the race for fourth. The South African had a really good pace but Ilyas used the slipstream to set some blistering laps to pressure Van Der Walt to make a mistake.
Van Der Walt commented, “I started in front of him, I got a better start than him, then I held him till the second last lap and I made a mistake and he just went past on turn eleven”.
Aditya Patel crossed the line behind them. The US Formula Project driver started the race in ninth immediately climbed to seventh in the first lap and by the second lap was up in sixth when Eurasia Motorsport’s Hiqmar Danial Hidzir suffered from a punctured tyre, dropping to the back of the grid. Patel then maintained his position unable to catch up to the duo battling in front.
The young Indian driver impressed all with his pace and was happy with the outcome of the weekend. “I got a good start, I gained two places and was up to seventh and then by the second lap I was up to sixth because I think someone went off.
“It was quite an interesting race, there was a point when people were catching me and I just put it all together and getting quicker and quicker. Towards the end my pace was pretty good” he ended happy with the outcome and the experience he gained over the weekend.
He was especially happy with the second sector, citing it as his favourite at this circuit. “You come out of a really slow corner and then you are really fast down the straight and then there is a chicane and then another straight and a right hander… it’s good fun, lots of fun”.
Aidan Wright had another good race, he was up in sixth at the start from seventh but made a mistake allowing a couple of cars to pass “I went into the second corner and sort of had an off which allowed a few cars pass which hindered my progress forward but towards the middle of the race we managed to pick up the pace and started to put in some decent and consistent laps which was really good and sort of lifted my spirits.” In the end Wright finished the race in seventh for Meritus.GP.
Tan Wei Ron (Eurointernational) had an unlucky break when his gear kicked back onto his injured finger, a deep cut that he got two weeks ago, causing excruciating pain to AirAsia Driver Development Program driver. “I was downshifting and the gear just bounced back and hit my finger. I tried to take the fast right at the back of the circuit with one hand but I lost the car and that’s why I spun and went down to eighth place,” ended T an.
Chris Vlock of US Formula Project and Eurasia Motorsport’s Josh Raneri completes the top ten. Meritus.GP’s Toby Earle finished the race in eleventh after a hard start to the weekend, having to change engines and missing the Qualifying session.
Guest drivers Sean Walkinshaw in the US Formula Project and Bizalion Charly of Mahara both were excited to be part of the race weekend gaining great experience of the track and the race craft.
The JK Racing Asia Series will continue with Rounds 7 & 8 at the Spa Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium on 27-29 July 2012.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia