Sugo, Japan - Sunday, 29th July 2001 - Malaysia's Alex Yoong had an uphill task to overcome following a dismall qualifying position of 17th on the grid due to the lack of testing which he missed when he tested the Minardi F1 car for the first time...
Sugo, Japan - Sunday, 29th July 2001 - Malaysia's Alex Yoong had an uphill task to overcome following a dismall qualifying position of 17th on the grid due to the lack of testing which he missed when he tested the Minardi F1 car for the first time early this month.
Alex had the best start of the 2001 season when he got off the line perfectly to overtake 6 cars to be 11th through the first corner. He maintained the charge to get up to 10th fending off India's Narain Karthikeyan who started from 12th on the grid for 6 laps before he pitted on lap 20.
The pitstop was also near perfect at 6.2 seconds and he continued his hard driving, knowing that when all the front cars have pitted he would be in 7th or 8th position.
But on lap 23, Alex ran wide into turn 6 and lost the back end of the car and crashed into the barriers. There were minor damaged to the car and Alex was unhurt.
"I was pushing hard as planned. The car was not balanced and the understeer was very massive throughout the race. I've got nobody to blame except myself or perhaps the unavoidable circumstances that made me unable to attend the two day official joint testing earlier this month to sort out the car." said Alex.
"Until the crash, I had enjoyed the race very much. The start was perfect and it was really good to be just off the top ten after only a lap. The dice with Narain was good too and I knew that if I pushed hard all the way, it's possible to score a point or two as the attrition rate in Sugo is usually very high. Unfortunately, I became part of that statistics and I am sorry for my team. It wasn't what I expected but I did try my best." added Alex.
The 60 lap race was won by S. Motoyama from Team Impul followed by J. Wakisaka of Team Arta with Ryo Michigami of Team Mooncraft third. Narain Karthikeyan was unfortunate and did not finish the race due to a broken gear-box on the very last lap.
Alex Yoong's participation in Formula Nippon is sponsored by Malaysian Airlines, TAG Heuer, TV3 Malaysia, SITEFORUM, and NeuroWeb Malaysia and supported by the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sports and Japan Race Promotion. Alex also put on the brandings of MAGNUM on his LeMans Team run Reynard race car as well as his race suit. MAGNUM is the sponsor of Alex's Formula 1 efforts.