A tremendous amount of organising and preparation work had to go into the start of the new season, for the first race at Sepang F1 circuit Malaysia. New sponsors, new cars, new drivers and new teams. The announcement of the new racing format for the TA2 Asia class made for an exciting new season of racing. Logistically and from an organisational point of view, Malaysia needed a lot of preparation early as the cars and accessories had to be dispatched in March to meet the deadline for the first race in April.
The new format created a one-hour race with a compulsory pit stop halfway through. Not only did this add more interest for the existing teams but opened the door for TA2 to expand. Sepang not only had a starting grid of 10 cars but also had several new drivers, increasing the complement of drivers to 18. For most teams, it allowed creating a 2-man team, but for a few drivers, they decided to complete the race on their own. Some teams pooled their resources which saw Innovation Motorsport teaming up with B-Quik Racing. Tecpro Idemitsu created a 2-car team, AF Racing also was represented by 2 cars. TA2 was very excited to have Johor Racing entering a car for the first time with the two Princes from Malaysia HH Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and HH Prince Abu Baker Ibrahim. PT Maxnitron also entered a two-driver team.
The qualifying for the first race on Saturday gave the teams the first chance to show how much hard work had gone in pre-season. A number of teams already showed how much pace they had. It was already evidently the season was going to be hotly contested. The two Princes, Gaby and Grant and Silipa and Maxine and Greg, were the early contender. But in the end, the front row of the grid was won by the two Princes with Grant and Silipa second, Greg and Maxime third. Qualifying for the second race on Sunday showed what an exciting addition Jaylyn Robotham is going to be to TA2 racing, he set a blistering pace right from the start, and it was no surprise he won the pole position for the second race on Sunday. Greg and Maxime showed consistency in winning second place with the two Princes third.
The Saturday race showed why these TA2 cars are gaining popularity across all Asia. Right from the start, the car showed how evenly matched they are. Door to door racing through the first few laps had several teams vying for the top spot. Having a pit stop half way through gave the opportunity to show how much practice the mechanics and pit crews had put in pre-season, it was non stop action. The race settled down with Gregory Bennett and Maxime Jousse setting a blistering pace. Followed closely by the two princes and then Craig Corliss and Paul Manuel having a great race in third position. So, it was no surprise that the final positions remained the same. It was a great first race for all teams.
Race 2 on Sunday was full on action from the start. Despite having pole position, it wasn’t long before Jaylyn fell back a few places. Leaving the Johor car in the front with AF Racing close behind. Moving through the field nicely was Cem from a starting position of 7th on the grid. Racing incidents are always going to happen between these muscle cars. Car 88 came into contact with the Johor car with car 88 having the front ripped off but didn’t stop the racing. Unfortunately, they were deemed to cause the accident and were penalised later with a penalty. At the first interval, The Johor team with the two princes were still in first place. Jaylyn was doing his best to push the car and open up a gap at the from before he needed to pit, but a breakdown in communication resulted in him missing the pit window by just a few seconds. On investigation resulted in a drive-through penalty. Unfortunately, with no on-board radio Gaby Dela Merced didn’t hear the instruction to come in and later after finishing the race realised they had been disqualified. Cem AF racing made a great pit stop and after the race settled down for the second half, managed to move up to third place which he consolidated for the rest of the race. HH Price Adu Baker Ibrahim carried on in first position and held a good gap to Maxime. The race was won by Johor Motorsport the two Princes, AF Racing Greg and Maxime second and Cem AF racing third. A fitting end to a great weekends racing. Well done to all the team’s sponsors and supporters.
The next race rounds 3 and 4is at Chang International Circuit Buriram, 8-9 June.