ATCC: Sepang: Pre-race notes

Asian Festival of Speed, Sepang F1 Circuti, Malaysia Explosive AFOS Sunday at Sepang for race fans. It'll be nothing short of an explosive weekend at the Sepang International Circuit with the Malaysian stop-over of the Asian Festival of Speed...

Asian Festival of Speed, Sepang F1 Circuti, Malaysia
Explosive AFOS Sunday at Sepang for race fans.

It'll be nothing short of an explosive weekend at the Sepang International Circuit with the Malaysian stop-over of the Asian Festival of Speed featuring a nine-race line-up on Sunday, with more than 100 cars in five categories of racing on the track.

Sunday will group rounds 5 and 6 of the Proton Satria Gti and Proton Production Car Championships, rounds 5 and 6 of the Asian Formula 2000 Series, rounds 5 and 6 of the Asian Touring Car Series and round 4 of the Macau Touring Car Race.

The Asian Formula 2000 Series will feature a fiercely-fought battle on the track with the addition of Fabian Coulthard, cousin of Formula One's David Coulthard, expected to challenge the field and create a neck-and-neck tussle between championship contenders Meckel Ali of Indonesia and Singaporean Dennis Lian.

"Judging by the unofficial practice times, Coulthard is definitely a contender and he's been very fast around Sepang," said Lian, who is currently second to Ali by a slim margin in the championship after four rounds. Lian's last appearance in Sepang was when he finished second last season and suffered a broken drive shaft in the second race.

"For some strange reason, my stops in Malaysia have always had their set-backs. The last two rounds in Johor, where mechanical problems robbed me of championship points, was a good example. Hopefully, I will be able to turn all that around this weekend.

"He (Coulthard) has been setting very quick times but he has also spun off the track quite a few times. I expect him to easily be in the top five. As for Ali, I believe he will be carrying the momentum from his last two wins in Johor."

Also gunning for victory will be the only female in the championship Keiko Ihara and Japanese compatriot Tohru Jitsukawa, while the Malaysian challenge will come from Team PanGlobal EZI Malaysia's Faizal Hakimi Jaafar, Zarith Alfian Zainal and Fahrizal Hassan.

"We should be in a strong contention for a podium finish this time," said Faizal Hakimi who is also PanGlobal EZI Malaysia Team Manager.

"The car's performing well so far after the first two sessions of unofficial practice so it's basically left to us to make full use of our local circuit knowledge and experience to the fullest advantage."

In the Asian Touring Car Series, strong local contenders vying will be Team Petronas' Mohd Farique Hairuman and team mate South African Michael Briggs who will be behind the wheel of a Honda Civic EK9.

"I'm expecting them to be a big threat this weekend," said veteran driver and current championship leader in Division 3, Danny Stacy Chau, driving for Hong-Kong based Team IMSP. A total of 28 cars categorised into divisions 1, 2 and 3 will compete in the two-round 10-lap race.

"Obviously, Team Petronas will have a greater advantage at Sepang considering it is their home circuit. It will be tough to beat them here. But then again, having said that, Sepang is also one of the most challenging circuit's the series has visited so far and results will also depend on how well you can set-up the car."

A total of 45 cars will also line-up the grid for Sunday's rounds 5 and 6 of the Proton Satria Gti and Proton Production Car Championship in addition to another 15 competitors vying for round 4 of the Macau Touring Car Race.

Among the side attractions include a pit walkabout and appearance by the Miss AFOS 2002 beauty pageant contestants. Tickets are priced at RM10 while children under the age of 12 walk in free. Parking is also free of charge.

-afos-

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Series General
Drivers David Coulthard , Fabian Coulthard , Keiko Ihara , Farique Hairuman