After a dominant outing at the first two events in the AsiaCup Series calendar, Jordan Love (AUS #79) was all set to make it another emphatic weekend at the final event of the series at the Sepang International Circuit.
But it was instead Malaysian Adam Khalid (#5) who would get off to a flying start securing another pole position in qualifying on Thursday ahead of the championship leader Love.
The 16-year old Australian would however respond getting back to his winning ways claiming victory in the first race of the weekend later in the afternoon, his 11th consecutive race win of the season.
Although the Australian had been quickest for the bulk of the qualifying session, it was the 17-year old Malaysian who took full advantage of the temporary lull in the scorching midday Sepang heat to snatch pole from Love.
With the pair of Adam Khalid and Love locking out the front row, the session also saw significant improvements by the young Singaporean Daniel Frost (#66) who claimed his best start of the season in P3, ahead of Australian Drew Ridge (#4).
After a fine start to the day, conditions took a different turn by late afternoon with rain ensuring a wet affair for the first race of the weekend. Despite the challenging conditions, the entire field did get off to a clean start, with Adam Khalid maintaining a slight lead over Love in the run to the first corner.
However, a small mistake by Adam Khalid saw him relinquish the lead to Love after the first sequence of corners. With the Australian better managing his pace in the tricky conditions, it did not take long for Love to pull away from the chasing pack, leaving the fight for the remaining podium positions between Adam Khalid, Drew Ridge and Daniel Frost.
Meanwhile, a great start off the line for Drew Ridge saw the Australian gain track position by the end of the first lap and catching Adam Khalid by the end of the second lap. Ridge’s constant pressure on Adam Khalid finally yielded results when another small error by the Malaysian allowed Ridge to take second position from Adam Khalid.
Lapping slightly quicker than the race leader, the 17-year old Sydney native began to close the gap to Love by the closing stages of the 10-lap race. However, Love’s efforts to pull away had produced enough of a gap by the chequered flag, despite Ridge’s best efforts to reduce the deficit. With an Australian 1-2 finish, Adam Khalid managed to hold on for a podium finish in third position.
Jordan Love, Race Winner, Race 1 (#79 AUS) – “It’s always nice to come back and win again. Even though
Adam (Khalid) had pipped me for pole position, my strategy was to find opportunities on track to overtake him. I got that into the first sequence of corners, and managed to take the lead. After that I was able to pull away, although Drew (Ridge) began catching me in the closing stages of the race. But I had done enough to hold on.”
Drew Ridge, P2, Race 1 (#4 AUS) – “It’s good to be back here in Sepang but I did not have such a great qualifying by comparison to the leaders, so I knew that I had to work on ensuring that I had a good start off the line in the race. I am happy that I managed to overtake Daniel (Frost) into the first corner and gain a position by the first lap. After that I was focused on catching Adam Khalid, as I could see that Jordan (Love) was running away at the front. I kept the pressure on Adam and it paid off when he made a small mistake on the third lap and I was up into second. I tried to push to catch Jordan but he had already built such a big gap. I am happy with this result and will push tomorrow.”
Adam Khalid, P3, Race 1 (#5, MAS) – “It was such a great feeling to get another pole position again as I knew I had the pace. However, the conditions were not ideal for the first race, and Jordan (Love) managed to overtake me in the first two corners after I went a bit wide. By then, Drew (Ridge) began catching me and started to put some pressure on me. Unfortunately, I made another small mistake and Drew took the position from me. It’s not ideal but I am happy that I know I have the pace, but I have a lot of work to do for the coming races.”
Firhat Mokhzani, Race Director, AsiaCup Series – “It was an exciting race to watch, especially with the tricky conditions making it difficult for the junior drivers. But, they coped really well today. I think overall the fight for second place in the championship is getting more intense, especially the fight for the top Malaysian. It will definitely be interesting to see how it develops over the course of the weekend.”
The second and third races of the six-race weekend will take place on Friday, 11 December 2015.
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