Second victory for Rinus Veekay as Ye Yifei takes maiden Asian Winter series win in Thailand

Second victory for Rinus Veekay as Ye Yifei takes maiden Asian Winter series win in Thailand

12.01.2019: •Hitech Grand Prix and Veekay lead championship after Race 2 win and Race 3 podium •Absolute Racing’s Ye Yifei of China takes first series victory in Race 3 •David Schumacher and Dan Ticktum take a podi

•Hitech Grand Prix and Veekay lead championship after Race 2 win and Race 3 podium

•Absolute Racing’s Ye Yifei of China takes first series victory in Race 3

•David Schumacher and Dan Ticktum take a podium apiece

Hitech Grand Prix’s Rinus Veekay rounded out brilliant weekend in the Asian Winter Series debut at Thailand’s Buriram International Circuit, taking his second championship win in Race 2, and adding a third place Race 3 finish to his points tally. China’s Ye Yifei took the win in Race 3, after snatching the lead from pole-sitter Dan Ticktum off the start and fighting off the Briton. Ticktum had to settle for second, while Veekay crossed the line third to consolidate his place at the top of the leaderboard.

Ye finished second in Race 2, ahead of Pinnacle Motorsport’s David Schumacher, who worked his way up from ninth on the grid.

Three action-packed races saw four different drivers on the podium in what was a superb opening weekend for the new championship. After three races, Veekay has a 22 point lead at the top of the Driver Classification from Ye (43 points). Schumacher and Hitech Grand Prix’s Pavan Ravishankar are tied on 31 points apiece, while Alessandro Ghiretti is just three points adrift after impressing on his graduation from Formula 4.

Race 2

As the lights went out on the second race of the weekend, Ticktum got a lightning start from P2 to storm past pole-sitter Veekay and into the lead. The Dutchman immediate fought back, going on the inside at Turn 3, and reclaiming his pole advantage. Despite a furious Ticktum swarming all over the back of him, Veekay held firm and set about trying to pull clear.

Behind the pair, Ghiretti, Ye, Pinnacle Motorsport’s Amaury Cordeel and Ravishankar gave chase, while an unlucky Eshan Pieris stalled on the grid as the lights went out and was wheeled into the pits and retirement.

Lap 3 saw Ticktum make another bid for the race lead, briefly getting by Veekay again before his rival snatched it back. Ghiretti dropped from third to sixth in the order, putting Ye, who had been pushing the Frenchman hard for position, firmly into podium contention.

Further down the pack, Super License driver Tomoki Takahashi was on a charge, passing Malaysia’s Akash Nandy on Lap 9, and setting off on the hunt for Cordeel.

In front of them, Schumacher was closing in Ravishankar, piling on the pressure to the Singapore driver. The tactic worked, with Ravishankar running slightly wide and Schumacher seizing his chance to go fourth in the order. It was beautifully-executed move by the German, and one that was to prove crucial.

As Ticktum continued his pursuit of Veekay and the race lead, rival Ye had closed the gap and was suddenly right on the back of the Briton. Lap 15 saw the pair side-by-side before Ye, on scorching pace, dived past and up to second. Ticktum again tried to fight back but wasn’t able to make any headway as Ye tore off after Veekay. However, despite his astonishing pace, there were not enough laps remaining for Ye to make any real headway, and he crossed the line a little over a second behind the Hitech Grand Prix points leader.

While Ticktum looked on course for a podium finished, he was handed a 10 second time penalty for exceeding track limits, demoting him down the order to sixth. That saw Schumacher take his maiden Asian Winter Series podium, joining race winner Veekay and Ye on the winners’ rostrum.

Ravishankar was classified fourth ahead of Ghiretti. Cordeel also fell foul of race officials, like Ticktum receiving a 10-second track limits penalty. That put him down from seventh on the road to ninth in the classification behind Nandy, Takahashi and Ticktum. B-Max Racing Team’s Tairoku Yamaguchi took the Masters win, 10th overall, while single seater newcomer Vivien Keszthelyi of BlackArts Racing recovered skillfully from an early spin to rejoin and finish the race.

Race 3

In what was almost a carbon copy of Friday’s Race 1, Ye made a brilliant getaway as the lights went out to seize the lead from pole-sitter Ticktum. Next it was Ghiretti who got alongside the Briton, diving on the inside to go second. Ticktum was having none of it though, and reclaimed the position before the Frenchman slowed and pulled off track.
Schumacher, meanwhile, was already on the move from his 10th place starting position, climbing up to fifth by the end of Lap 2.

While the stricken Ghiretti initially managed to get his car going again, he pulled over on the start/finish straight, bringing out the safety car. That saw Ye’s gap from Ticktum, which was almost a second, reduced to nothing as the field closed up behind him.

The Chinese driver got away well at the restart though, keeping Ticktum at bay, while further down the pack, Schumacher was quickly looking to find a way past Takahashi, passing the Super License driver to go fourth. The Japanese driver then dropped down the order to eighth, making up a place before the flag.

As Ye, Ticktum and Veekay pulled away at the front, there was plenty of action in the midfield. Cordeel found a way past Ravishankar. Next it was Nandy who had the Singapore driver in his sights. The Malaysian dived past, with Takahashi seizing the moment to follow Nandy through, demoting Ravishankar down the order to eighth.

It was disappointment once again for Pieris, the Sri Lankan forced to retire in the final race of what had been an unlucky weekend for the Absolute Racing driver.

Back with the race leaders, Ticktum began reeling in his rival Ye and, with six minutes remaining on the clock, launched a series of ferocious attacks, first taking the outside line at Turn 3, running wide but getting alongside his rival. Ye defended well to keep the Briton at bay. As the seconds ticked away, Ticktum tried repeatedly to find a way past, but the wily Ye had it covered and sailed across the line to take his maiden Asian Winter Series victory.

Veekay took third behind a frustrated Ticktum, with Cordeel crossing the line fourth having got by Pinnacle Motorsport team mate Schumacher. The German was fifth, he and Nandy each handed a five second penalty for a restart formation infringement. That didn’t affect Schumacher’s finishing position, but dropped the Malaysian to seventh on the results sheets behind Takahashi.

-Nikki Kemp, photos Asian Winter Series


12.01.2019 / MaP

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