CETC ROUND 2
JUNE 3-4 XIAMEN, CHINA
The second round of the CETC (Chinese Electric Touring Car Championship) took place at ARC International Raceway in Xiamen with Akio Sobue and Naoto Matsukura flying the flag for Infinity & the IF14. With our EP team claiming a 1-2 at the opening round of the newly created championship back in March at the indoor AMA track in Guangzhou, the first outdoor race would bring with it a new challenge - the weather!
The same venue that will host the 1:10 Offroad World Championships later this year, unfortunately Day 1 would be rained off. Forcing the event to be condensed into a single day, the new scheduled would leave room for just 2 rounds of qualifying with one to count. No pressure then! A damp start to proceedings, Naoto would initially set the pace in Q1 but as light rain began falling towards the end of the round the increasingly difficult conditions led to a number of mistakes dropping him to P2. While not the ideal result given there was only two qualifiers, having set the fastest lap Naoto knew the pace was their for improvement in Q2.
Running on a very similar pace to Q1 TQ Nicolas Lee in the second round, Naoto knew it was going to be a close finish and with the track drying this was going to be the round that counted. Taking a gamble on the last lap, he would launch his car across the finishing loop rather than braking. The gamble paid off. By just 0.033 of a second Naoto was the overall Top Qualifier. Having had a bad opening qualifier, Akio would also have a better Q2 to secure 3rd on the grid for the triple A-Mains, his time less than 6/10ths of a second off his team-mate’s TQ run.
In the first of the finals, Naoto would temporarily give up his lead to Nicholas Lee but managed to take it back from the Singapore driver to successfully covert his No.1 starting position into the No.1 finishing position. Behind, Akio would move up a place to follow him home in second place. On to A2 and after a not so perfect opening encounter Naoto put in a dominant drive to lead tone to tone for a 2.8-second win that would secure him his first overall race victory as an Infinity driver.
Winner of the opening round of the championship, Akio would go on to end the event with a win to make it an another Infinity 1-2 at the CETC, the result the reverse of how the season started. The result means Naoto & Akio now share the lead in the points standings as the CETC returns indoors when RCI V2 in Shanghai hosts Round 3 on July 22-23.