The qualifying round of the 2011 Asian Touring Car Series got off to a flawless start during the Asian Festival of Speed at the Sepang International Circuit.
A wet track played havoc for the qualifying round of the GT Asia Series which was held just before, but the track dried perfectly to let the Touring Cars run on slick tires, with some cars matching the times of the more powerful GT cars that posted their times in the wet.
There were however the regular spins but the most dramatic event saw the Honda Integra DC5 of Hong Kong-based Team IMSP catch fire at Turn 5 of the circuit. Driver Danny Chau Kwok Sang saw the fire emerge from the hood of the car before negotiating the turn and he quickly sprang out of the car after parking it on the grass.
Besides that, it was a straightforward qualifying session with Eric Kwong Hoi Fun of Look Fong Racing Team taking pole position in his Honda Accord CL7 with a time of 2:23.080.
Eric beat Japanese driver Hideharu Kuroki of Team IMSP, by one hundredth of a second, forcing the Japanese driver into second place though the latter’s Honda Integra DC5 matched Eric’s pace everywhere but the straights.
Taking third place on the grid is Michael Choi Koon Ming of J.A.S. Motorsport with a time of 2:23.171. Just tenth of a second shy of second place. The Hong Kong based driver, also driving a Honda Accord CL7, managed to outclass fourth place driver Chen Jun San of Taiwan by a hundredth of a second as well after Chen posted a time of 2:23.413. Chen is driving a Honda Civic FN2 and representing Team AAI – Buddy Club.
The top four qualifiers were separated by just 0.333 seconds, showing the immense talent of the drivers and their teams. Topping off the five fastest qualifiers of the Asian Touring Car Series is Paul Poon Tak Chun of China Dragon Racing. The Hong Kong Driver is one of two Chevrolet Lacetti drivers, with the second being his team mate, Samson Fung.