The AsiaCup Series partners and Sepang International Circuit have combined their resources to help three Malaysians transition from karting to formula racing.
Adam Haikal, Adam Khalid and Nazim Azman kicked off a strong campaign for the AsiaCup Malaysian title at the AsiaCup 2015 opening event at the Sepang International Circuit.
The Malaysian rookies collectively made it a memorable weekend for the country’s national day celebrations with three podium finishes from three races out of the five contested. Jordan Love (#79 Perth Australia) was the star of the weekend, winning all five races and is the current championship points leader.
The AsiaCup 2015 by MERITUS GP starts its third season at Sepang. It is the most successful formula driver experience programme ever in Asia. Approved by the FIA, the AsiaCup international designation has helped train 65 drivers from 15 nations since 2013.
Sporting the motto ‘#Is F1 Your Dream’, the series’ champions have moved closer to achieving their racing ambitions. Amongst them is 2013 champion Arjun Maini (India), who has gone on to claim the British F4 Vice-Championship. 2014 AsiaCup Super 6 vice-champion Malaysian Daniel Woodroof (#16 Malaysian) has gone on to claim podiums finishes in the VW-powered Formula Masters China Series, while AsiaCup 2014 champion Jake Parsons (#27 Australia) is currently a close second in the drivers’ standings also in the Formula Masters.
Starting off the hectic Merdeka weekend schedule on Saturday with three races, rookie Adam Haikal (#77 Malaysian) emerged as Malaysia’s strongest contender after securing his best finish on the podium with third position in Race 3. Haikal added another podium finish also in third position in Race 4, while the field’s youngest contender, Nazim Azman (#17 Malaysian) capped off a spectacular start to the season with his best finish with third position in Race 5.
After solid starts in Race 1, the Malaysian contingent all secured good results with Adam Khalid (#5 Malaysian), Nazim Azman and Adam Haikal in fifth, sixth and seventh position respectively in Race 1. Making improvements in Race 2, it was Adam Haikal who led the Malaysian pack finishing just outside of the podium in fourth position ahead of Nazim in fifth and Khalid in sixth. The Malaysian rookie contingent’s run of form stepped up a notch from Race 3 on Saturday afternoon.
Starting from the third row on the grid in fifth position for Race 3, Adam Haikal’s superb start off the line saw him gain a position from Kazakhstan’s lady driver, Lyubov Andreyeva (#46 Kazakhstan). From then on, Adam Haikal had to work hard to pursue the Kenyan challenger, Jeremy Wahome (#88 Kenya) ahead of him while fending off a spirited challenge from Andreyeva behind him.
By the mid-way point of the race, Adam Haikal was able to move up into third position following an error by Wahome, a position he then held on to right through to the end.
“It was a tough race but I really enjoyed battling it out with my fellow competitors. Lyubov (Andreyeva) gave me a good fight throughout and it was hard keeping her behind me!” notes an elated Adam Haikal after securing his maiden podium finish of the weekend.
Sunday’s proceedings featured two races with Race 4 being the longest with 10 laps over the 5.5km-long Sepang circuit. The mid-day race once again witnessed a gritty drive by Adam Haikal who despite starting from seventh position on the grid was able to make up two positions from a solid start.
With Jordon Love and Wahome secured in first and second positions, the young Malaysian was in the thick of the action in a four-way battle for the final podium position with fellow compatriot Adam Khalid, Andreyeva and South Korean Andrew Kim throughout the race.
However, a last-corner incident involving Andreyeva and Kim on the final lap, allowed Adam Haikal to capitalise on the opportunity to gain two positions while running in fifth to claim his second podium finish of the weekend.
“This was an incredible race, as I had to fight really hard right from the start. I had a great start to move up two positions and from that point was chasing Adam (Khalid) and Lyubov (Andreyeva) while trying to keep Andrew (Kim) behind me. I did manage to overtake Adam at the mid-way point, and from then on, I had a good battle with Lyubov and Andrew, though Andrew did manage to pass me on lap 8. But then, there was an incident between Lyubov and Andrew on the final corner on the final lap. I saw an opportunity, so I took it! I dropped down to second gear and managed to get more out of the car and just pushed it for the position! It is however very unfortunate about what happened to Lyubov though, as she is a tough competitor.”
The final race of the weekend on Sunday afternoon saw both Adam Haikal and Nazim Azman in strong starting positions with Adam Haikal on the front row in P2 and Nazim behind him in P3. A great start saw Nazim leapfrog his older rival Adam Haikal to move up into second position on the opening lap, driving a strong race to fend off the consistent challenge by Adam Haikal, Kim and Andreyeva for several laps.
With two laps remaining, the Malaysian youngster was finally passed by a resurgent Kim but held on to finish third and claim his first podium of the weekend, en route to becoming the youngest ever AsiaCup Series podium finisher.
Speaking after the race, a delighted Nazim Azman notes, “That was a great race! I fought really really hard to keep my position and although Andrew (Kim) did manage to pass me with two laps to go, I was determined to hold on to my third position and gave it everything I had!”
Meanwhile, Australia’s Jordan Love made it a triumphant weekend in his Round 1 AsiaCup Series outing, with a perfect five wins out of five, topping the championship standings with a 104 points ahead of South Korean Andrew Kim who has 65 points and Kenyan Jeremy Wahome with 50 points. Adam Haikal leads the Malaysian contingent in fourth position overall with 48 points.
Race Results (selected):
Race 1 (8-laps)
1. Jordan Love (#79, AUS) 18:21.592s
2. Jeremy Wahome (#88, KEN) +6.253s
3. Andrew Kim (#21, KOR) +6.628s
4. Lyubov Andreyeva (#46, KAZ) +8.995s
5. Adam Khalid (#5, MAS) +10.250s
6. Nazim Azman (#17, MAS) +29.323s
7. Adam Haikal (#77, MAS) +33.892s
Race 2 (8-laps)
1.Jordan Love (#79, AUS) 18.34.550s
2. Andrew Kim (#21, KOR) +5.570s
3. Jeremy Wahome (#88, KEN) +20.948s
4. Adam Haikal (#77, MAS) +21.149s
5. Nazim Azman (#17, MAS) +22.224s
6. Adam Khalid (#5, MAS) +23.151
7. Lyubov Andreyeva (#46, KAZ) +31.595s
Race 3 (8-laps)
1. Jordan Love (#79, AUS) 18.37.522s
2. Andrew Kim (#21, KOR) +16.768s
3. Adam Haikal (#77, MAS) +21.220s
4. Lyubov Andreyeva (#46, KAZ) +23.633s
5. Adam Khalid (#5, MAS) +27.928s
6. Luke Thompson (#42, MAS) +28.253s
7. Nazim Azman (#17, MAS) +35.284s
Race 4 (10-laps)
1. Jordan Love (#79, AUS) 23:00.594s
2. Jeremy Wahome (#88, KEN) +15.053s
3. Adam Haikal (#77, MAS) +17.567s
4. Lyubov Andreyeva (#46, KAZ) +17.878s
5. Andrew Kim (#21, KOR) +17.914s
6. Nazim Azman (#17, MAS) +26.678s
7. Adam Khalid (#5, MAS) +27.036s
Race 5 (8-laps)
1. Jordan Love (#79, AUS) 18:38.090s
2. Andrew Kim (#21, KOR) +15.953s
3. Nazim Azman (#17, MAS) +17.025s
4. Adam Haikal (#77, MAS) +17.163s
5. Lyubov Andreyeva (#46, KAZ) +17.506s
6. Adam Khalid (#5, MAS) +18.768s
7. Jeremy Wahome (#88, KEN) +34.141s
Championship standing (selected)
1. Jordan Love (#79, AUS) 104
2. Andrew Kim (#21, KOR) 65
3. Jeremy Wahome (#88, KEN) 50
4. Adam Haikal (#77, MAS) 48
5. Lyubov Andreyeva (#46, KAZ) 42
6. Nazim Azman (#17, MAS) 36
7. Adam Khalid (#5, MAS) 32
About the AsiaCup 2015:
AsiaCup 2015 has 13 registered competitors, however, Kane Shepard (Thailand) and Daniel Neilson-Thomas (Singapore) did not receive their rookie race license in time. With Adam Haikal, Nazim Azman and Adam Khalid making up the rookie trio of Malaysians, the field of 11 participating drivers at the opening round of the 2015 AsiaCup Series also included drivers from different corners of the world, including Kenya, Norway, South Korea and Australia. Also competing for Malaysia were seasoned Touring and GT cars campaigners Keifli Othman and Tan Sri Azman Yahya. The grid for the next event (7-9 November) will expand to 17 cars with two Russians, a Filipino and an Indonesian driver joining.