Afiq Ikhwan claims pole ahead of Lucas Auer

JAKARTA: A determined Afiq Ikhwan Yazid (Meritus Racing) put memories of a dismal finish his last start in the JK Racing Asia Series in Sepang (Malaysia) by claiming pole position ahead of Austrian teenage wonder Lucas Auer (EuroInternational) in the third round to be held this weekend at the Sentul International Circuit in Bogor near here. Ikhwan’s time of 1:30.918, beat the qualifying lap record held by Sean McDonagh who set the record back in 2008 by 1.1second.

Yazid finished with just six points in the last race in Sepang and saw Petronas MR’s Irfan Ilyas and Nabil Jeffri sneak ahead of him int the championship table. Today, he finished half a second faster than Auer who has won five races in a row and has a 49-point lead over after six races run over two rounds.

“I am so happy! We really worked hard for this weekend. We tried a few set-ups and this one really suits me. I am loving the track right now. We hope we can do well tomorrow and I’ll try my best to keep my pace and keep it consistent to win every race,” he said.

If he can get off to a good start from pole tomorrow, Yazid can hope to end Auer’s winning streak. The Austrian, a nephew of Formula One driver Gerhard Berger, is driving in a single seater class for the first time after many years of karting during which he won two junior titles is Germany and one KF3 championship.

Auer finds the circuit quite tricky but is still aiming for a win.  “Qualifying was pretty okay. Maybe I messed it up because I was not 100 per cent there. But I think we have a good car for the race and the rest we will see tomorrow,” he said. “The circuit is really hard to drive. It is different than any other circuit but it’s a good circuit and I like it”.

With as many as six drivers clocking times in the 1:32 bracket at the qualfying today, there was good news for the sold Indian driver Raj Bharath who finished eighth. The Bangalore teenager enjoyed the conditions at the Sentul Circuit to log 1:32.694 to give himself a fair chance to add to the two points he has so far.

With four races scheduled for the weekend, the JK Racing Asia Series will come to midway stage. The second half of the season will see four races on the Guangdong Circuit (China), two each at the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore and the newly-built track Buddh International Circuit in Noida, with the last two rounds being part of F1 weekends.

The JK Racing Asia Series, a Junior Formula championship, offers a platform for developing young talents on their journey on the world motorsport stage. It showcases a line-up of drivers from all over the world, including Asia-Pacific and Europe.  It also provides drivers the opportunity to compete in front of the Formula 1 fraternity three times this season.

The 3.96km long Sentul International track will see the return of international racing after 2009 when it hosts the AFOS that includes races in the JK Racing Asia Series and Asian Touring Car Series besides some local events like the Indonesian GT3, the Bimmer Race and a Classic car race.