JAKARTA: Malaysia’s 19-year-old Afiq Ikhwan (Meritus GP) overcame ‘massive understeer’ and a stiff challenge from Austrian sensation Lucas Auer (EuroInternational) in the final race of the weekend today to complete a sweep of four victories in the third round of the JK Racing Asia Series at the Sentul Intenational Circuit in Bogor near here.
Afiq Ikhwan’s stellar showing let him consolidate his second place in the championship with 144 points, 32 adrift of the consistent Auer’s 176 with eight races left. Nabil Jeffri (Petronas Mofaz Racing) was in third place with 95 points despite bowing out of the afternoon race in dramatic circumstances, going off track at the first corner on the 10th lap when Auer pushed him hard.
“I am happy that we have had a good weekend here in Indonesia,” said Afiq Ikhwan after emulating Auer who won all four races in the previous round at Sepang in Malaysia. “The team prepared a good car for me this weekend. I am sure we can continue the good work in the next round at the Guangdong International Circuit in China next month.”
Auer made it a dramatic race for himself, first by pushing Afiq Ikhwan when he noticed that the Meritus GP driver was facing understeer problems but ending up gravel in the fifth lap and then by rising from fourth place to second before the safety car made its appearance when Jeffri went off the track.
“Afiq has closed the gap in the championship and I am sure we will come back stronger in the next round,” said Auer, who has claimed 10 podium finishes in as many starts in his rookie season. He finished second behind Afiq Ikhwan in all four races here but has five victories and a third place finish to show for his efforts earlier.
Malaysian Akash Nandy, who is of Indian descent, was content to claim his second podium finish this weekend and rise to the seventh place in the standings with 52 points. “To be sure, Lucas has the faster car and it was hard to keep him back,” he said. His Meritus GP team mate Raj Bharath, the lone Indian driver, is trailing in the 14th place with 7 points.
The race this morning was curtailed to 12 laps due to a power outage at the track and the stewards did not it consider it safe enough for the race to continue. “The power failure in the seventh lap made the race control go ‘blind’ and it wasn’t considered safe to continue. So we suspended the race,” said Motorsport Asia CEO David Sonenscher,.
The safety car was sent out on track after seven laps but since it was taking too long for the power supply to resume, it was decided to suspend the race. The race resumed behind the safety car so that the minimum distance required for results to be obtained could be completed.
“We couldn’t declare the race at that point as finished because if we did, the distance would have been too short to have scored any points. We decided to continue the race to the point where we could declare a result, which was 75 per cent of the distance,” Sonenscher said.