Podium joy for Absolute Racing drivers at Sepang showdown
Absolute Racing drivers capped off the inaugural F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA season with three podium finishes at the Sepang International Circuit.
• Double podium for newcomer Ye Yifei
• More silverware for Conwright
• Second place in Teams’ standings
Jaden Conwright finished third in the last race of the season, securing the third place in the Drivers’ standings as Absolute Racing finished second in the Teams’ standings. Series newcomer Ye Yifei impressed on his Asian racing debut claiming two podium places in Malaysia.
Setting the grid positions for race one, Yifei set a lap time of 2:04.082 min to sit in second on the time sheet. Conwright stopped the clock four hundredth of a second behind him; enough to put him on the fifth place of the grid for the start of race one on Saturday afternoon. Akash Nandy qualified seventh.
Following a quick visit to the pits, the second qualifying session got underway. Yifei qualified in third place on the grid for Round 15 on Sunday with Conwright lining up just 0.080s behind. Teammate Nandy struggled to get the maximum out of the car and qualified in eight.
Race One saw Ye having a poor getaway, dropping down to fourth. The Chinese driver was able to regain to P3, but towards the end of the series’ first night race it was hard for him to catch the first two, struggling with the tires.
Starting from fifth position, Conwright lost one place over the 13-lap race, but still managed to keep the third position in the championship standings. Nandy had a bad start but fought back to take the chequered flag in ninth.
Saturday’s second race (Race 14) saw Yifei return to podium ways with a second-place finish. The series debutant was third at the flag but has been promoted to second place due to an opponent post-race penalty.
Starting from 10th position, Nandy lost one place as the light went green. Consistently improving his lap times, the local racer worked his way up the grid, settling into eighth.
American Conwright crossed the line in 14th after a brief excursion out of track earlier in the race.
The season came to an end on Sunday with rain-interrupted race. Yifei was one of the drivers caught out by the tricky conditions and wet patches, dropping from third to eighth place.
This time Conwright showed his credentials from the green light, grabbing the third place from his team-mate in the race, and taking third place in the Drivers’ championship.
Luckless Nandy had to retire on lap 7 due to an engine failure. The Malaysian driver finished sixth in the championship standings.
China’s Ryan Liu Zexuan didn’t take part of the event but he managed to secure the third place in Masters Classification.
The Absolute Racing single seater squad starts the 2019 season preparation on Monday at Sepang Circuit as the inaugural Winter Series kicks off in January.
The three, triple-header rounds will begin on January 13 at Thailand’s Buriram International Circuit where the championship will make its debut, followed by a further two rounds at a second Asian FIA Grade 1 track, Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, on January 20 and February 24.
#16 Ye Yifei: “I am happy to have finish in the podium twice this weekend. We had some disappointing qualifying as we were struggling to get the tire temperature to work. In the first race I had a good start but Tomoki had a better start. We were fighting three abreast into turn 1 and unfortunately, I had a very bad run out of turn 1 and dropped to P4. After that I was able to regain to P3, but towards the end of the race it was hard for me to catch the top two. In the second race I had a good start. I managed to get P2 from the beginning but after that we started to struggle with the tires, with the heat and the temperatures in the tires, so towards the end of the race we really struggled with the pace.”
#29 Akash Nandy: “I want to take this opportunity to thank the team for their endless push and support throughout this season. They have constantly believed in my talent and capabilities. This weekend didn’t go the way I had hoped for especially after having such a strong start from FP1. To end the season with a DNF is very disappointing but I have come away with a lot of lessons from on and off the track.”
#80 Jaden Conwright: “The third race was quite good. I had a good start and went from P4 to P3 by turn one but Yifei got me back. The conditions definitely made it tricky. Just staying in focus was a bit difficult because it was always green and then the safety car, and then we had a red flag, so it was just managing the conditions, managing your mindset. In the end it was a good race and we were finally able to show the pace that we had all weekend.”
Fabien Fior (Team Director): “We fought all the way to the bitter end, getting our drivers onto the podium in the last three races of the season. So we end the season on a positive note and head into the winter optimistic that we can start 2019 just as well. To all the drivers and members of Absolute Racing who have been with us all the way through this, and of course to all of our partners that have grown and been on this journey with us; a big thank you on behalf of the whole team to all of them.”