Suzuka, Japan - Sunday, 25th Mar 2000 - Team LeMans and Malaysia's Alex Yoong took a bold gamble for dry settings for a wet track as they expected the track to dry out in round 1 at Suzuka today. However the gamble did not pay off as the rains...
Suzuka, Japan - Sunday, 25th Mar 2000 - Team LeMans and Malaysia's Alex Yoong took a bold gamble for dry settings for a wet track as they expected the track to dry out in round 1 at Suzuka today. However the gamble did not pay off as the rains came again and kept on relentlessly. As a result Alex who started 10th on the grid had to contend with two spins and was lucky to finish 11th.
Sunday morning was wet as forecast and the rain stopped just before the scheduled start at 2.30pm but the clouds were still looming large. "My engineer told me that the forcast was for no more rain and so we decided to lower the car by 4mm which is pretty close to how we run the car in the dry. Inhind sight it was a big mistake as it started raining again on the warm up lap." said Alex.
As soon as the race got started, Alex was stuck behind Motoyama who unexpectedly got a bad start. Alex had to lift to avoid hitting him and dropped to 14th from 10th.
Tsugio Matsuda crashed out on lap 7, Satoshi Motoyaqma then retired with a badly misfiring engine and Michael Krumm's engine also expired on lap 16. Lap 20 saw Alex moved up to 7th with drivers dropping off in treacherously wet conditions. Couto had meanwhile crashed out on the second lap when he aqua-planed at Dunlop.
The rains came down even harder atlap 20 and Alex had his first of two spins at the exit of turn 1 on lap 26. Alex again spun on lap 30. Each time he somehow managed to keep the car on the track and not into the barriers. "After the first spin I had problems with the rear tyres breaking up and in the end I just wanted to see the chequered flag."
"It was just so hairy with my car aqua-planing each time we hit a puddle and there were dozens of them on the track today. I was lucky to finish, although in retrospect, if we had gone 4mm higher than 4mm lower before the start, we would definitely be looking at a points finish." said Alex. N. Hattori from Team 5Zigen withstood tremendous final laps' pressure from Team Aguri's J. Wakisaka to win round 1 and was undoubtedly the hero of the day. Japan's S. Ara from Team Cerumo finished third in his first rookie race. Fifteen finished the race from 20 starters.
India's Narain Karthikeyan did very well to keep his cool to fight his way to finish in 6th to get his first point in his first Formula Nippon race.
Alex Yoong is sponsored by TV3 Malaysia, Malaysian Airlines, TAG Heuer, Brylcreem, NeuroWeb Malaysia, SiteForum and Konica Japan. His participation in Formula Nippon is supported by the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sports and Japan Race Promotion. The LeMans Team is sponsored by Domani, Sunoco and SuperStar.