Asia Racing Team's Sandy Stuvik becomes the one to beat! Asia Racing Team's Sandy Stuvik extended his AFR Championship lead with two second places finishes on a race weekend that featured sunshine, rain, wind and plenty of action at the Chengdu...
Asia Racing Team's Sandy Stuvik becomes the one to beat!
Asia Racing Team's Sandy Stuvik extended his AFR Championship lead with two second places finishes on a race weekend that featured sunshine, rain, wind and plenty of action at the Chengdu International Circuit. With two podiums during His first visit to the "City of Hibiscus", the Thai rookie is looking like the man to beat.
History said that Asia Racing Team monopolizes pole-position at Chengdu, but this year it didn't happen. Nevertheless Stuvik impressed with a second on his first qualifying attempt in the bumpy Sichuan Province permanent track. The young Thai reckoned he should have been closer but was prepared to admit that pole-position time was out of range. After a thorny Free-Practice on Thursday and Friday, country fellow Tin Sritrai got over it and managed to get the fourth spot in the grid. Further back, "Naomi" Zhang Ran was just tenth as baffled by her lack of pace.
Race 1 saw Stuvik playing for the championship, and securing a significant second place. Bearing in mind that the poleman and upcoming Race 1 winner was a guest driver, the 15 years old Thai didn't take any risk to fight for the first position. His pace was enough to leave the third placed far away from his tail. Sritrai had a much more eventful race. A bad start almost cost him a position but a quick bounce back and a good defensive maneuver in the last corner were rewarded with a fourth. Following the team instructions Zhang Ran made it to the checkered flag to finish her first ever single seaters race. The local female star Zhang Ran was ninth for a while but lost the spot in the last lap when her opponent took advantage of the blue flags right before the "Esses" to overtake the first female driver of the Macau's Zhuhai based team.
On Sunday Stuvik repeated the second place with another strong performance, but not wanting to take any unnecessary risks on such a tough track, comfortably finished the race in the podium, happy to scoop vital points to retain a sufficient points margin to lead the championship. Unable to maintain his position at the start of Race 2, Sritrai dropped back to sixth. The AKOC champion would get back one of the lost positions until the to finish fifth. On the other hand, "Naomi" endured another inauspicious race, making a good start and a strong first lap only to be torpedoed by an overambitious late brake in the chicane.
Asia Racing Team is currently leading both the drivers' and teams' championships and has four podiums. The next race of AFR Championship will take place on the Shanghai circuit in China from 13 to 15 of August.
#3 Tin Sritrai (THA):
Qualifying: 4th / Race 1: 4th / Race 2: 5th
"Having in mind that I had no previous experience of the circuit, I was pleased with the way I qualified and with my drive in yesterday's race. I had problems in both races with the start and first corner . In Race 2 I lost two positions at the start and was really diifficult for me to catch up the drivers in front. The lessons learned in Chengdu will be useful in the future and I can approach the Shanghai race with confidence."
#5 Zhang Ran (CN):
Qualifying: 10th / Race 1: 10th / Race 2: DNF
"It was my first race in single seaters, and Chengdu track is phisically very demanding. I know where in the track I was loosing time and we know what are my weak points at the moment. It was a shame what happened in Race 2. I was quicker than the French driver. I tried to overtake him in the chicane but I blocked the wheels and finished in the gravel."
#15 Sandy Stuvik (THA):
Qualifying: 2nd / Race 1: 2nd / Race 2: 2nd
"Overall I am happy with my performance this weekend. When you go for the championship, you have to be able not to take unnecessary risks. Race leader Cao was slightly quicker than me this weekend. I did two OK starts and tried to follow him and maintain my position. I avoid any mistake and I got two important second places. I am very excited about the next race in Shanghai F1 track. I aim for wins but the championship comes first. "