2018 - ONETEN SERIES ROUNDS 3 & 4
DEC 1-2, HONG KONG
After its successfully launch at RCI V2 in Shanghai, Rounds 3 & 4 of the new Chinese based OneTen Series descended on Hong Kong for the 2nd stop on the 4-event/8-round calendar. Featuring a unique double header format Saturday's round is the more traditional race schedule of 3 qualifiers, albeit each 6-minutes long, followed by triple main while Sunday's round programme consists of four 4-minute qualifiers and a single 8-minute Main. For Akio adapting to the format at the first event proved no issue as he took the indoor carpet TQ & win on both days. With Hong Kong an outdoor event, he was hoping to take his IF14 to repeat performance result on the Tom Racing Circuit asphalt. On the podium in Shanghai, Jin was also back for more while Andy joined them for his OneTen Series debut in Hong Kong with, as usual, Kotonori on hand to support all Infinity drivers.
While only 3rd fastest in the single round of practice, Akio was right on it for Q1 topping the times by over 2-seconds. Despite struggling with the circuit's low traction and suffering a spin, Jin would post a P3 run with Andy completing the Top 6. The second qualifier would net a P2-3-4 for our guys led by Akio, a good result given all three were on used tyres and TQ was set by Nicolas Lee who opted to use up one of his allocated set of new tyres. With new tyres for the final qualifier, our guys would end qualifying with the perfect result of a 1,2,3, Akio topping the times ahead of Andy to claim the overall TQ while 3rd secured Jin P3 on the grid in front of Andy.
The opening final was a pretty clear cut affair from Akio's perspective. Keeping his composure as Lee tried to force a pass early in the opening lap, Akio quickly made the race his own. Behind Jin took advantage of a mistake from Lee to move up to second with Andy keeping him on his toes but unable to find a way by. A2 would be more of the same from Akio, as he won by 1.8-seconds to maintain his 100% percent series record - 3 TQs and now 3 race wins from 3 rounds. Unfortunately the second encounter was a tough one for Andy and Jin. Andy's race lasted just over a minute as he crashed on the track's main straight kerbing and retired on the spot. Holding third, Jin would also retire after stripping a spur gear with just over a minute left on the clock. Although he already had the overall win wrapped up, Akio ran A3 and again was the class of the field and the battle was for second. Unfortunately Andy would get punted off the track early on. Putting a lot of pressure on Lee, on the penultimate lap Jin got slightly off line allowing Jan Ratheisky to go by but at the next corner he made contact with Lee and waiting to give back the position it allowed Jin through for P2 and second overall - the second Infinity 1-2 of the series.
Sunday was a fresh start but Akio maintained his previous day's pace to yet again get things underway with a TQ ahead of Andy and Jin. Andy would finally hit the top in Q2 as he gambled on using new tyres to produce a TQ run ahead of Lee & Ratheisky who were also on new tyres. Jin would end up the best driver to opt to run used tyres with P5 while Akio squeezed a P9 out of his third run tyres. In Q3 Jin was quickest for the team with a P2 ahead of Akio and Andy before Akio resumed his authority in Q4 to secure pole for the single 8-minute final. The only driver to run a 13-second lap in the final, Akio took a more than convincing 8-second margin victory ahead of Lee with Jin third. Andy looked like leaving his first OneTen weekend with a podium trophy until a big moment coming onto the main straight launched him into the wall. He somehow survived the impact and lost just two places to finish 5th.
Another successful OneTen performance for the IF14, the guys are already looking forward to Rounds 5 & 6 in Guangzhou on January 12/13. Also an asphalt event, Akio will aiming to maintain his 100% winning ways.