•Hitech Grand Prix Dutchman strengthens championship lead with Race 4 win at Sepang International Circuit
•China’s Ye Yifei takes second ahead of Frenchman Alessandro Ghiretti
•Masters class win for Tairoku Yamaguchi ahead of B-Max Racing team mate DRAGON
Sepang, Malaysia (January 19, 2019) – Rinus ‘Veekay’ van Kalmthout put in a wheel-perfect run from pole to chequered flag to win the 14-lap Asian Winter Series Race 4 at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. The 18-year-old Hitech Grand Prix driver crossed the line 3.490 seconds ahead of second-place finisher, Absolute Racing’s Ye Yifei of China. Taking the third podium place was Veekay’s Hitech Grand Prix team mate, Alessandro Ghiretti who turned 17 yesterday.
Super License driver Tomoki Takahashi also gave a standout performance to finish fourth after a challenging free practice and qualifying, crossing the line ahead of local hero Akash Nandy of Pinnacle Motorsport.
In the Masters class, it was a B-Max Racing 1-2-3 finish, with Tairoku Yamaguchi taking his fourth consecutive win ahead of team mates DRAGON and series newcomer Motoyoshi Yoshida.
Veekay’s third series win strengthens his position at the top of the championship leaderboard giving him a 29-point lead from Ye who is on 61 points. Ghiretti climbs to third in the driver classification ahead of David Schumacher who is two points clear of fifth-place Pavan Ravishankar.
The drama began even before the racing got underway. Hitech Grand Prix’s Dan Ticktum was absent from the grid and ultimately unable to take the start, while Pinnacle Motorsport’s Amaury Cordeel pulled off the track on the formation lap. The drivers completed a second formation lap as the Belgian’s car was pushed to safety.
Veekay got away well from pole when the race got underway, with Ye, who started from P2, immediately giving chase and looking to dive around the outside. However impatient the Chinese driver was, the Dutchman was having none of it and quickly shook free of his rival. Right on the limit in his hunt for the race lead, Ye ran wide on the second lap, his excursion onto the grass giving himself a scare.
Ghiretti, meanwhile, began closing up to Ye but was never able to get close enough to the Absolute Racing driver to make a move. Another man on the move was Takahashi from his 11-place grid position. The Japanese driver was up to fourth by the end of the opening lap, briefly setting the fastest lap before it was bettered by race winner Veekay.
An early retirement was series newcomer Max Fewtrell of Hitech Grand Prix, the Briton driving into the pits early on after a strong qualifying which had put him on the third row of the grid.
By the end of the third lap, Veekay’s advantage was almost 1.5 seconds from Ye, and the gap was only to increase as the laps wore on. As the Dutchman sailed untroubled to collect his third Asian Winter Series win in four races, all Ye could do was follow him across the line. For Ghiretti, it was the new Formula 4 graduate’s second series podium as he continues to impress amongst the strong international field.
Takahashi took fourth ahead of Malaysia’s Nandy, who had tried without success to pressure the Japanese driver, with Absolute Racing’s Eshan Pieris in sixth. Nandy’s team mate Schumacher was seventh, followed over the line by Hitech Grand Prix’s Ravishankar and BlackArts Racing’s Vivien Keszthelyi of Hungary.
With the fastest lap from Race 4 setting the grid for Race 5, Veekay once again starts from pole position, with Ye joining him on the front row. Behind the pair will be Ghiretti and Takahashi.
Round 2 of the Asian Winter Series continues tomorrow (Sunday, January 20) with Races 5 and 6. Both races will be live-streamed on the www.f3asia.com as well as on the series Facebook page. Race 5 begins at 10:50 (GMT+8), with Race 6 following at 14:45. Live timing is at: https://livetiming.getraceresults.com/asia#screen-results
Driver Quotes: Race 4
Rinus Veekay (Hitech Grand Prix) – Winner Race 4
“I had a good start, or similar to Yifei. I knew he was going to go quite deep into Turn 1, and I got to go inside so he was going to go outside. I knew he was going to try and go with me and be on the inside for Turn 2, and that was what I had to try and stop and be single file through Turn 2. That worked. Then in Turns 5 and 6, he got dirty air which made a gap for me, and from there I could just go and have my own race.”
Ye Yifei (Absolute Racing) – 2nd Race 4
“The whole thing started from qualifying. After practice, we had some problems we had to fix. That’s why I had to start from second. In the beginning, I really tried to push hard to attempt an overtake, but coming to Turn 1, I couldn’t make it. Turn 3 was also close. After the first two or three laps I was trying really hard to stay with Rinus and also pushing try to push for a good lap for the second race grid position. I think I was pushing too much and I overheated my tyres, so towards the end of the race I lost tyre performance and dropped off quite significantly to Rinus. It was not an ideal race.”
Alessandro Ghiretti (Hitech Grand Prix) – 3rd Race 4
“There’s a really big difference from F4 and F3. The F3 is I think 12 seconds faster on this track. The engine and the chassis are really different. My race was good. I started P4, and I finished P3. In the beginning I tried to follow the guys in front of me. In the end I could see it was impossible, so I tried to save my tyres for the other race.”
Tairoku Yamaguchi (B-Max Racing Team) – Masters winner Race 4
“For me, today’s race was quite tough because in the early stages of the race I had quite a big fight with DRAGON, but I definitely enjoyed the race. I’m really happy all B-Max drivers are on the podium. It’s really great!”
Asian Winter Series
Results – Race 4
Asian Winter Series Driver Classification after Race 4