Absolute Racing drivers scored more podiums finishes and class wins at the team’s home rounds of the F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA at Shanghai International Circuit this weekend as Jaden Conwright reached the podium on race three and Liu Zexuan won in the Masters class twice.
With Thursday’s practice sessions held in wet conditions, Saturday’s Free Practice presented the international field of fledging talent its first opportunity to run on the 5.451km home of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix in the dry. Later in the day, the qualifying sessions brought another strong performance by the home team.
Setting the grid positions for race one, Akash Nandy set a lap time of 2:05.825 min to sit in fifth on the time sheet. Conwright stopped the clock four hundredth of a second behind him; enough to put him on the ninth place of the grid for the start of race one on Sunday.
Following a quick visit to the pits, the final qualifying session got underway. Conwright shocked the field by grabbing second place on the grid for Round 9 on Sunday. Team-mate Nandy struggled to get the maximum out of the car and qualified in seventh.
Liu Zexuan, who joined the championship in the second event of the season, took the 12th place grid spot for both races, a third-place position in the Masters class.
Race one saw another display of Conwright’s ever improving race craft as he climbed thru the field from ninth to cross the finish line in sixth. Nandy had an eventful race but was sadly hampered by a number of factors, finishing seventh.
Local hero Liu Zexuan took the Masters class win for new team Emc2 Racing.
Round 8 and 9 took place on Sunday. In race two, starting from fifth and sixth on the grid, Nandy and Conwright benefitted from an opponent technical issue to cross the finish line as fourth and fifth respectively. The Masters class field witnessed the second consecutive win for Liu Zexuan.
From the off, race three looked set to deliver some big on-track action and the best was kept for the end. Conwright made a small mistake on the start, but he had a good recovery and was able to still hold the third position and get on the podium. With this result, the American driver kept the third place on drivers’ standings.
Lining up seventh on the grid, team-mate Nandy would always have a tough mission in the last race of the weekend. The Malaysian racer was involved in a number of fights but was not able to move up in the classification. Nandy is now fifth in the standings.
Liu Zexuan was tenth overall at the flag, collecting second place points in the Masters Class, lying third in the class standings now.
The Asian F3 inaugural season now takes a short break before heading to Ningbo for the championship’s penultimate event of year on 13/14 October.
#29 Akash Nandy: “Its been a difficult weekend for me trying to maximize the most out of each race with the pace we have had. Qualifying definitely affected me in terms of the end result of the races but I’m eager to analyze where we can improve this on my end and as well with the car for the next round. I’m looking forward to Ningbo already.”
#80 Jaden Conwright: “This weekend was definitely a great learning experience for myself. With varying conditions throughout a lot of the sessions pinpointing the direction to go with my driving was very difficult. I got myself into a bad rhythm with my driving from qualifying and through the first parts of the races, but thankfully we were able to pinpoint the faults and fix everything for the third race of the weekend. It was nice to end the weekend with a podium, but now it’s time to sit down and analyze everything so we can head into the second Ningbo round where we left off the first.”
#6 Liu Zexuan (Emc2 Racing): “Although it’s my home track, to be honest, I don’t drive here a lot. But through the testing I’m learning a lot – controlling the car and getting more familiar with the track. I think the race pace on Saturday was better than Friday, so I’m pretty happy about that. [To prepare for Sunday’s races] I slept well last night! Yesterday I went back to the hotel and thought about whether there was any place I could improve. I think today, on the first lap I was hit and lost some positions. I was pretty happy I could get the position back and follow the front cars for along time. I’m quite happy with the whole journey, but definitely I can get better.”
Ingo Matter (Team Director): “Our expectations ahead of this weekend were higher than the results we achieved, but overall we have good reason to feel encouraged by many aspects of this weekend like the third-place position finish and the two Masters class wins. This weekend’s leading trio had a better pace than us, but now it’s important that we do not let up at all: over the final six races, we have an obligation to demonstrate that we never give up fighting for the top places.”
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