PYC, HONG KONG
The finale of the inaugural Chinese based OneTen Series organised by RedRC Events took our championship regulars Akio and Jin to Hong Kong where they were joined by Marc. While Akio had already wrapped up the overall title at the previous event in Guangzhou, China, where he made it 6 wins from 6 rounds, the team was no less motivated. The goal was an IF14 clean sweep of wins. The series' second trip to Hong Kong, this time it was the turn of the PYC track to host the double header race weekend. Built almost 20 years ago, it is country's oldest surviving track. With Rounds 7 & 8 attracting one of the OneTen's most competitive gathering of drivers it was, believe it or not, going to be Marc's first time ever racing in Hong Kong! The opportunity to test at the track on Thursday and Friday was welcomed although rain in the evening cut things short on Friday - luckily that was the only time the wet stuff from the sky was unleashed!
Saturday consisted of Round 7, the format being two rounds of 4-minute practice, three 6-minute qualifiers and triple 4-minute Mains - so a full and busy day. After topping practice from Marc, Akio continued his form into Q1 with a TQ run ahead of Nicolas Lee with Marc, fading a little towards the end of the 6-minutes after a strong start, recording P3. Q2 would be a super close encounter with Akio just missing out on another TQ run by 0.005 of a second from Lee after a small error earlier in the run which left him with dirty tyres for 2-laps. Marc produced another third fastest time just ahead of Jin. With the overall TQ on the line in the final qualifier, Akio gambled on using his second set of tyres but Lee copied his decision. Not happy with the feeling of the second set, Akio couldn't match Lee and 2nd for the round was also going to be his starting position for the final. Opting to stick with his first set of tyres, Marc was never going to be able to challenge for a TQ run but third for the round secured third on the grid and with a fresh set of tyres at his disposal put him in a strong position for the finals. Jin was going to start 4th.
A1 produced contrasting races for Marc and Akio. With temperatures and wind rising, track conditions were getting more difficult but armed with his fresh second set of tyres Marc was able to get the win. A small error on the curb by Akio left enough room for Marc to go through and chase down Lee who he would passed with a nice move down his inside. Unfortunately for Akio he would end up with a DNF after more contact with the curbing launched his car into the barriers. Jin would complete the Top 3 in front of Naoki Akiyama and Meen Vejrak. A2 was to be another tough race for Akio. Looking to challenge Lee for the lead early on so as to try and maintain his OneTen winning streak, he unfortunately ran into the rear of the Top Qualifier. This allowed Marc through to the lead where he stayed ahead of Jin to take the win and overall victory. The perfect way to mark your race debut in a county! Finishing 3rd in A3 behind Marc, Jin would complete the podium. Unfortunately for Akio his day didn't get any better and another tough A3 encounter meant he ended up 5th overall but no time to dwell on the day as tomorrow would bring a brand new day of racing.
Sunday's Round 8 format presented drivers with the challenge of a single 4-minute practice, four 4-minute qualifiers and a single 8-minute final. Marc started out the day with TQ runs in the opening two qualifiers as Akio's Saturday formed looked to continue after he opted to run old tyres. However for Q3 & 4 with fresher tyres he re-found his form to TQ both rounds and take the overall TQ on tie break from Marc. Jin, with P2 runs in Q2 & 3, made it an all IF14 Top 3 on the grid. Despite a less than perfect first lap to the final, Akio was able to pull clear of Marc to win and secure the 100% winning record of the IF14 in the OneTen Series. Second in Round 8 was enough for Marc to be crowned the overall event winner at PYC capping off a great OneTen campaign from our EP team with Jin becoming the Vice Champion behind Akio. An interesting concept with its double header, mixed up format for each day of racing, it has been an enjoyable journey over the four OneTen events and we look forward to returning for the new season to again support racing in China. In the meantime its a quick turn around to get ready for the first asphalt round of the Euro Touring Series in Madrid, Spain this weekend (4-7 April).