- Daniel Cao claims first pole and first podium
- Eshan Pieris battles for the podium
- Absolute Racing sits second on Teams’ standings
Absolute Racing drivers Daniel Cao Zhuo and Eshan Pieris put on a very satisfactory performance at Sepang International Circuit in the opening event of 2019 F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA, including an impressive pole-position and a third-place finish of Cao in Round 1 on Saturday.
The weekend started off on the right foot for Absolute Racing duo. Cao claimed pole position for race one, with teammate Pieris in fifth. Unfortunately the weather conditions played against the team in the second 15-minute qualifying session with both drivers qualifying low on the grid. Pieris qualified tenth while Cao was fifteenth.
The first two races of the season took place on Saturday in the typical Malaysian mix of scorching track temperatures and humidity.
At the start of race one Cao lost two places in the run down to turn one and fell back to third. He then stayed there for the rest of the 30-minute plus one lap race, conquering his first podium result in the series at the 5.5km Hermann Tilke-designed circuit. Pieris, who started in P5, maintained his pace throughout the race and managed to finish in the same position he started in, and secure valuable points for the team in the championship.
In race two both drivers just barely missed the podium. The Chinese started from position three on the grid, lost three places in the turbulent starting phase and made up ground again in the 14-lap race. Cao proved his fighting spirit by recovering to fourth again. Up to the finish, he kept putting pressure on the car in front of him, but found no way to pass.
Starting from fifth on the grid, Pieris quickly moved to third. After the Safety-Car period the Sri Lankan driver tried to overtake the second placed car into T4 on the outside but his opponent moved under breaking and he ended up overshooting the corner a bit and lost two positions. Pieris was fifth at the flag.
The third race of the weekend was run on Sunday. With both cars starting far back in the field, team’s hopes were not exactly high. From the green lights both drivers carved their way up. His determination ensured Pieris moved up three places after the first lap.He was in the battle for the fifth place, but in the end he had to settle for sixth. Teammate Cao also had a superb race start and did an impressive run, gaining eight places to finish seventh.
Following this weekend’s results,Cao sits in fourth place in the drivers’ championship standings with 33 points, while teammate Pieris is now fifth with 28 points. Absolute Racing is on second in team standings.
F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA moves to Thailand for the next round of the championship. Chang International Circuit plays host to the second meeting of 2019, on May 11/12.
#5 Daniel Cao Zhuo: “In race one my start was not so good because on the warm-up lap, I didn’t get the tyre temperature. So, at the start I dropped position to third. In a 30-minute race, to attack when our race pace is almost the same, it’s hard to catch them. I didn’t make a good start in race two too but I managed to recover a few positions. Race three was always going to be tough cause I had to start from P15. My lap times were pretty good this weekend, perhaps good enough for an even better result. We’ll keep working hard and improve.”
#15 Eshan Pieris: “The results do not show our real capabilities. However aside from all the negatives of this weekend, there are many positives to be taken. From my perspective as a relatively new driver in F3, my race craft and race pace has shown an improvement since the last couple of races. This I achieved thanks to the guidance from the team, my engineer Ruben and of course our Martin (Team Manager). Everyone worked so hard on the car which was made it one of the most competitive cars out there this weekend. Going into the next round in Buriram being 5thin the championship standings isn’t a bad place to be entirely. I’m determined and motivated to put our team where we should be in the next four rounds. Whatever the outcome, I’m just happy to be a part of Absolute Racing.”
Fabien Fior (Team Director): “We had a strong start to the weekend but I guess we’ve got to have had some bad luck at some point and unfortunately it was on qualifying two. Nevertheless, Daniel demonstrated all his talent with the pole-position for race one and Eshan has showed he is more than capable to repeat last month’s Asian Winter Series win. Overall, I am quite confident for the forthcoming races. Looking to the next race in Buriram, everybody in the team is very dedicated to catching up and I am sure this will be achieved soon.”