Sunday, 20th May 2001 - Alex Yoong finished just out of the points in 7th position at the 3rd round of the 2001 Formula Nippon Championship held in the Mine Circuit in the southern tip of Honshu Island. The 62 lap race run in bright sunshine was...
Sunday, 20th May 2001 - Alex Yoong finished just out of the points in 7th position at the 3rd round of the 2001 Formula Nippon Championship held in the Mine Circuit in the southern tip of Honshu Island.
The 62 lap race run in bright sunshine was won by S. Motoyama of the IMPUL team in a total time of 1h 20m 57.298s. Ralph Firman of Team Nakajima was second 5.561 seconds away with T. Tsuchiya of the ARTA team another 1.410s away in third.
Alex got off on an even start at 12th on the grid and maintained the position for the first 2 laps.
At lap 13 Alex moved up to 10th spot after J. Wakisaka was called in for a jump start penalty and S. Ara beached his car at the gravel trap.
Alex took his tyre stop early at lap 23 as he wasn't on the pace. "Something was not right. The car was not handling the way that it should." said Alex after the race.
After his tyre stop he was right on the pace again but he had lost a lot of time and when everyone had made their stops Alex found himself in 9th spot till one lap from the end.
In the penultimate lap, Narain Karthikeyan was called in by the race officials for speeding infringement while lying in 7th and Y. Tachikawa spun his car and stopped.
This moved Alex up to 7th overall position at the chequered flag, his highest finishing position for this year. Alex's total time was 1h 21m 51.117s. Karthikeyan finished 9th eventually.
Alex's race was not without drama though. Between lap 40 to lap 48, T. Matsuda was 10th chasing Alex at 9th separated by only two tenths most of the time. Tried as he could, Matsuda couldn't get by and eventually Alex pulled slightly away by a second in lap 48 and they remained with that second separating them till the finish.
Macau's Andre Couto had another non finish while Alex's team mate Yudai Igarashi had another disappointing weekend retiring with suspension failure early in the race.
"It was a good hard race for me." said Alex. "The car was much better after the tyre change and I enjoyed the dice with Matsuda. Luckily neither of us did anything silly although we came close a few times."
The next round will be held in the FUJI circuit on the 3rd of June 2001.
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.