Tuesday October 30, 2012
Nabil’s lucky charm
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: The resurgence of Afiq Ikhwan is, in a way, helping Nabil Jeffri’s bid to keep South African rival Aston Hare at bay in the fight for the JK Racing Asia championship title.
Afiq claimed his third straight win of the series in Race 11 at the Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi, India, over the weekend.
The 21-year-old Afiq is on a winning streak after claiming both races at Silverstone Circuit in the previous outing in August and crossed the line ahead of compatriot Nabil and Indian driver Aditya Patel at the Buddh circuit.
Hare finished out of the podium in Race 11 but came back strongly to win Race 12 to keep his championship hopes alive.
Afiq finished fourth for Meritus.GP in Race 12 after fighting hard despite losing power midway through while Nabil, who led at the start of the race, was given a drive through penalty for a jump start infringement. He served his penalty on lap 5 and finished the race in eighth spot.
It was a weekend of mixed emotions for Nabil, who was disappointed at not taking a race win but relieved to keep the championship lead, nonetheless.
Nabil, 19, is still at the top with 188 points for a 34-point lead over Hare. Afiq climbed to third overall with 134 points.
The trio have accounted for four race wins each but with four more rounds to go, the championship looks very much a two-way fight between Nabil and Hare.
And Nabil is determined to hang on to the advantage and achieve his dream of being the second Malaysian winner of the prestigious single-seater series.
Jazeman Jaafar won in 2007 when it was known as the BMW Pacific Asia Series.
“I was aiming for a win ... opportunities like this don’t come very often,” said Nabil from New Delhi.
“Well, it’s all right, that’s racing and sometimes you just have to be unlucky.”
The only consolation is knowing that he has good race pace after posting the fastest time on lap 5 (1:59.479).
“That was the best first few laps for me this season and I was really at the top of my game. I pushed really hard the first few laps. But on lap 4, I was given a drive through penalty, which I feel I shouldn’t have been given ... I don’t think I moved,” he said.
“Anyway, it was fun and most important are my points for the championship. I am still leading and I am very proud of that.”
The series will continue at Buddh once again for the 2012 season finale with Rounds 13-16 from Nov 30-Dec 2.