Asian Touring Car Series gears up for June start The region's leading "tin top" event, the Asian Touring Car Series (ATCS), kicks off the 2003 season at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit on June 7th and 8th as part of the Asian Festival of...
Asian Touring Car Series gears up for June start
The region's leading "tin top" event, the Asian Touring Car Series (ATCS), kicks off the 2003 season at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit on June 7th and 8th as part of the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS). The FIA-sanctioned series, which has a loyal and enthusiastic following throughout the region, has a brand new tyre supplier this year in the form of BFGoodrich Tires.
Japanese manufacturers dominate the entry, with Honda Integras and Civics making up the majority of the grid. Asian touring car veterans Ao's Racing, 778 Autosport, Team IMSP and 3 Crowns Racing are all fielding entries in the series.
Team Petronas will line up for the opening rounds with a Honda Civic EK9 and EK4 for Malaysian drivers Mohd Fariqe and Mashlino Buang respectively.
The high percentage of Japanese-manufactured machines may not necessarily equate to guaranteed dominance of the leaderboard this season. Professional touring car outfit GR Asia has entered two of the Ford Focus ST170 machines which made their debut at the Macau Grand Prix Guia Race last year when Briton Simon Harrison won both legs of the ATCS and took a superb fifth overall.
Commented GR Asia team boss Tim Huxley, "We are delighted to be taking part in Asia's premier racing series, and as the only European cars entered, look forward to providing both variety and stiff competition to the traditional Japanese manufacturers."
The cars will be engineered by Briton Paul Ridgway, who designed and built the Focus Super Production car and has been behind numerous race wins in the UK, Europe and Asia. Ridgway is combining the ATCS campaign with a hectic racing schedule in the UK.
GR Asia has two new drivers for the 2003 season, both of whom are well known on the Asian racing scene. New Zealander Nick Thomas has been an enthusiastic supporter of AFOS, competing in the AF2000 single seater series. Briton Matthew Marsh has enjoyed success both in Europe and the Asia Pacific Region, including a 5th place and class win at the Bathurst 24-hours last year. Most recently, Marsh finished in 4th place in the opening round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in March in his very first outing behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Both drivers will be making their front wheel drive debuts, but the team is confident they will be competitive very quickly.
The Hong Kong father-and-sons team of Lo Hung Pui in a Honda Civic EK4, Lo Ka Chun and Lo Ka Fai in a pair of Honda Integra DC2s, make a welcome return to the series. Lo Ka Chun will be looking to continue his tremendous form from last year, when he won Division 2 and just missed taking the Division 1 honours by six points. Also from Hong Kong come seasoned campaigners Phillip Yau and Danny Stacy Chau, winner of the Division 3 driver championship in 2002, for Team IMSP.
Ao's Racing has entered Ao Chi Hong of Macau, a staunch supporter of the series and a touring car specialist, and Japanese drivers Naoya Yamano and Junichi Koizumi.
Kirakiat Yenmanoj will be flying the flag for Thailand in a Honda Integra DC2.
The opening two rounds of the 2003 Asian Touring Car Series will be held on Sunday, June 8th, with practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday.
About BFGoodrich Tires
BFGoodrich Tires has enjoyed a long and illustrious history of technical innovations and racing firsts. Not only did BFGoodrich invent the tubeless tire, it was the first tire company to introduce carbon black to improve tire strength and durability. It was also the first tire company to bring racing to the masses, using the same tires for racing that were sold to the public. Targeted at the younger generation motoring enthusiast, the brand has continued to reinforce its heritage in motorsports through consistent wins at such prestigious races as Paris-Dakar and Baja. BFGoodrich Tires also clinched a victory in its first foray into the Japan Grand Touring Car Championships in 2002, and is currently the official tire sponsor of the Asian Touring Car Series.