|Khushlani disappointed despite good outing; Auer sizzles|
NEW DELHI, October 30, 2011 - India’s Akhil Khushlani was a little disappointed at not being able to reach the goal he set for himself in the JK Racing Asia Series, being run as a support race to the inaugural Indian Formula One Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit on Sunday.
A total of 20 drivers from around the world are part of the JK Racing Asia Series, formerly known as Formula BMW Pacific, held over the weekend. Khushlani, along with six other Indian nationals took part as guest drivers in the Series and at least two of them stood out with great performance.
“It was pretty decent. I had good racing this weekend but we were looking forward to a podium actually. But at the end, the experience is more important and I would say it went well overall,” Khushlani said. “The competition is quite tough, but we could have done a lot better. It was just bad luck,” he added.
Round 14 of the JK Racing Asia Series was eventually won by Austrian Lucas Auer, taking his second consecutive race uncontested from pole here in India over the weekend. Auer led the charge all the way from the start, pulling a gap and setting the fastest lap of the day.
“It was a very good race. I had a good pace today. Immediately at the first lap, I could push, held it and managed to make good times and could hold it till the end,” the Austrian said.
“For me it was just a perfect race because I could drive consistent quick laps,” said Auer during the post race press conference.
After a great start, taking second from Lorenzo Camplese, Malaysian Afiq Ikhwan pushed ahead trying to catch up with Auer. Despite all his efforts, the Meritus.GP driver was unable to do so and finished second place.
“For me it was not a really good weekend. I had a crash in the first race (on Saturday) and it was unlucky,” Ikhwan said. “Then this race, the car was not really on pace. I couldn’t get a feel for the car yesterday so today I just kept defending my line and kept my time consistent. The race is still on for the next round,” concluded Ikhwan.
Malaysian Nabil Jeffri and Italian Lorenzo Camplese were battling for third for most part of the race and had a last turn incident where Jeffri got too close to Camplese as they made a dash for the finish line. They touched, allowing fifth placed runner, Irfan Ilyas to sneak past them for third.
“It was a really tough race for me. On the first lap, I dropped down to sixth or seventh then eventually I overtook one by one. I see that Nabil and Lorenzo has pulled a gap from me,” Ilyas said.
“Towards the end, my team told me ‘Irfan, you are on pace, don’t give up’ and then on the last three laps my team said ‘Irfan keep on pushing, you can get podium’. That’s why I kept on pushing and on the last turn when Nabil and Lorenzo had a fight, I managed to sneak in through,” Ilyas said with a smile.
India’s Vishnu Prasad put in a stellar performance during the race, but was unable to reach his goal of a top seven. His tenth position was good enough to make his Meco’s Ministry of Speed team happy and Prasad was grateful for the experience.
“Tiring race. My main aim was to finish in the top eight but I couldn’t achieve that, I think I finished tenth,” Prasad said. “Definitely the pace was there, I could find another two seconds but I was one second off the leader’s pace, but a personal best for me.
“I hope I can do the November round as well and to be there in the top five,” he added.
Series driver, Raj Bharath of India, did not have a good outing and was a little disappointed with the outcome. He was confident that he will be able to do better in the next four rounds, as he will have better knowledge of the circuit then.
Sarosh Hataria, Rahil Noorani, Sandeep Kumar, Mohit Ahuja and Shashank Ravishankar completed the finishers for the day in sixteenth to twentieth respectively.
The JK Racing Asia Series will return to India next month for the final four races to be held from November 25th to 27th, 2011.
JK Tyre & Industries, the leading tyre manufacturer in India, is the title partner for the JK Racing Asia Series. The Series is also supported by AirAsia, Asia’s leading low-cost carrier.
The JK Racing Asia Series is currently the only Junior Formula that provides a unique opportunity where the drivers are given a platform to compete in front of the Formula One fraternity. On three occasions the JK Racing Asia Series will support Formula One Grand Prix, in Malaysia, Singapore and the newly built circuit in India.
The JK Racing Asia Series is organised by Motorsport Asia Ltd.