ATCC: Bira: Rounds nine and ten summary

Asian Formula 2000 Series Rounds 9 &Amp; 10: Bira International Circuit, Thailand Ihara celebrates first ever race win, Potenciano claims his second victory of the season. Japanese lady driver Keiko Ihara was in a class of her own winning...

Asian Formula 2000 Series Rounds 9 &Amp; 10: Bira International Circuit, Thailand

Ihara celebrates first ever race win, Potenciano claims his second victory of the season.

Japanese lady driver Keiko Ihara was in a class of her own winning round 9  of the Asian Formula 2000 Series at Pattaya's Bira International Circuit while Filipino Mike Potenciano fought hard to claim his second victory of the year in Round 10.Ihara's victory was also her first in the series and more importantly, her first ever behind the wheel of a single-seater racing car after her years of racing in the British Formula Renault and French Formula Three Championships.

"I'm obviously very happy. My sponsors were here in Bira to watch me race and I wanted so much to demonstrate to them my performance," said the 27-year-old who drives for the Autosport Racing Team."To be honest, the challenge was more on trying to concentrate hard and not making a mistake because there was no one to race with at the front."

A distant second and 15 seconds behind was Singaporean Denis Lian whose race was pre-occupied trying to hold off Malaysian Zarith Alfian Zainal in the closing laps who eventually crossed the finish line 0.221s behind.Indonesian and current championship leader Meckel Ali made a good start from second on the grid but increasing problems with the handling of the car cost him a place to Lian and later Zarith.

Team PanGlobal EZI Malaysia's Zarith drove consistently to catch up with Lian who had eased off to cool his tyres securing his second straight podium finish in the series. His overtaking of Tohru Jitsukawa however, sparked controversy with the furious Japanese claiming both cars touched resulting in him being pushed into the gravel. Jitsukawa eventually finished the race sixth behind Mike Potenciano."It's great to finish on the podium again," said Zarith. "But this is not my best performance yet. I believe there's plenty of room for improvement and that I can be quicker."

Comfortably leading Round 10, Ihara's chase for a double victory came to an end on lap nine with a broken throttle cable.That allowed Ali to inherit the lead. He was running away with the race with the handling problem on his machine cured, until a broken drive shaft took him out, promoting Lian into the lead.

Potenciano eventually caught up with Lian as the race came to the penultimate laps and passed the Singaporean. Zarith meanwhile, who was just driving to finish as a result of worn tyres found himself suddenly with another third place finish on the podium. The retirements also promoted Malaysians Fahrizal Hassan and Faizal Hakimi Jaafar to fourth and fifth respectively."I'm definitely delighted with the win. The car was pretty quick and I was happy with the performance. I was confident enough of a podium finish but to win it was a bonus," said Philippino Potenciano.

Results: Round 9
1. Keiko Ihara 21min:09.105sec
2. Denis Lian 21:24.758s
3. Zarith Alfian Zainal 21:24.979s
4. Meckel Ali 21:29.836s
5. Mike Potenciano 21:31.908s
6. Tohru Jitsukawa 21:34.320s
7. Fahrizal Hassan 22:11.698s
8. Faizal Hakimi Jaafar (1 lap behind)

Results: Round 10
1. Mike Potenciano 21min:21.256sec
2. Denis Lian 21:25.364
3. Zarith Alfian Zainal 21:38.647
4. Fahrizal Hassan 22:04.096
5. Faizal Hakimi Jaafar 22:05.354Keiko

Ihara Did Not Finish
Meckel Ali Did Not Finish
Tohru Jitsukawa Did Not Finish_

-af2000

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Series General
Drivers Denis Lian , Keiko Ihara