Motegi, Japan - Saturday, 10th March 2000 - Malaysia's Alex Yoong was unable to set a time better than 14th at the final session of the Formula Nippon two day test at the TwinRing Motegi today when he was forced to sit out most of the session...
Motegi, Japan - Saturday, 10th March 2000 - Malaysia's Alex Yoong was unable to set a time better than 14th at the final session of the Formula Nippon two day test at the TwinRing Motegi today when he was forced to sit out most of the session until 9 minutes from the end due to repairs on his gearbox.
"It had been very frustrating for me to wait around doing nothing for the most part of the 2 hour second session watching the times fall." said Alex.
"I feel pretty good about the set up of the car and the boys in the team had worked very hard to get my gearbox fixed. But there just wasn't enough time for me to set a quick time amongst all the last minute traffic with only 10 minutes to go before the flag came down."
On the first day of testing, the start was delayed for an hour and a half due to heavy overnight snow which left all the run off areas covered in thick snow.
The weather was so cold that Team Lemans and Alex decided to concentrate mainly on set up work and testing new parts. He did not try out new tyres on the first day of running and had one set more than the other teams for the second day.
The first session of the second day was run in bright sunshine with all signs of snow gone. Alex finished tenth in the first session of the second day.
The two day test saw Team Mooncraft driver Ryo Michigami of Japan topping the times with 1m 34.330s with compatriot Satoshi Motoyama of Team Impul second at 1m 34.361s followed by Takeshi Tsuchiya of Team ARTA third at 1m 34.693s. Juichi Wakisaka of Team ARTA was fourth at 1m 34.786s while Brit Ralph Firman was the leading Nakajima car at fifth with a time of 1m 34.801s. Last season's All Japan F3 racer Seiji Ara rounded up the top six with a time of 1m 34.865s.
Macanese driver Andre Couto crashed out on the first day and the team did not have the parts available so Couto was forced to sit out on the second day to finish at the 17th spot with 1m 37.319s. Narain Karthikeyan also did not have a smooth run as his car faced the same gearbox problems as Alex's car towards the end of the second session after having set a 11th fastest time of 1m 35.651s.
There are three other foreigners taking part in this year's championship besides Firman, Yoong, Karthikeyan and Couto. Michael Krumm of Germany could not make the test while Briton Richard Lyons finished in 15th spot with 1m 36.656s and Polish driver Jaroslaw Wiersczuk finished in 18th spot with a time of 1m 37.421s.
Japan Race Promotion Ltd. who are the coordinators of the Formula Nippon Championship have done a really good job to assist the three Asian non-Japanese drivers to secure seats with good teams in Japan. All three drivers namely Alex Yoong, Narain Karthikeyan and Andre Couto are assisted to a large extend by JRP in their drives with Team LeMans, Team Impul and Team Nova respectively.