The FFF Racing Team by ACM will arrive at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit this weekend for an event that could effectively turn their season around. Already race winners in the debut season of the GT Asia Series, the very first endurance event in the six year history of the category also features double championship points, which means those teams sitting just outside the lead pack, could suddenly find themselves on top of the points table by Saturday night.
“It’s a tempting thought,” FFF Racing Team by ACM’s Andrea Caldarelli admitted. “Sepang is a circuit where we have some serious data after a lengthy pre-season test there earlier in the year, but added to that, we’re back to full-strength in Malaysia after the frustrations of a pre-race test accident which eliminated one of the McLarens at Fuji. The engineers have been over all three cars and given them a clean bill of health, and with our strong driver lineup, we’re expecting a good result.”
FFFRacing_Ronald_Wu_test_2015_medSadly for the team they will be without one of their figureheads, with FFF’s Su Fong Yang forced to miss the event due to business commitments, but that has opened the door for the team’s ‘development driver’ former Formula Masters China Series front-runner Ronald Wu.
“Ronald tested with us last year in Dubai, and has always been a part of our plans, so it was only natural that he would take Sean’s [Fu] place,” Caldarelli explained. “Sean’s disappointed because he was actually starting to find a good rhythm in Fuji, but business is business. I’m looking forward to running with Ronald, because I think with his recent experience in Audi R8 LMS Cup and his tests with us, he has a good understanding of how a GT3 car works.”
Arguably the most competitive of the three black FFF McLaren’s are round three winners Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Tonio Liuzzi, the Japanese-Italian pairing are well versed with Sepang, with Hamaguchi a former GT Asia Series race winner at the circuit [2012], whilst Liuzzi has contested a variety of events in Malaysia, including four Formula One Grands Prix between 2006 and 2011.
With 36-points on offer to the race winner, Sepang gives the #55 team the perfect chance to cement their championship challenge heading into the penultimate round in Shanghai in three weeks time.
“I like Sepang, it’s a circuit where I’ve done plenty of laps, and I was really happy with the pace of the car there when we tested earlier in the season,” Hamaguchi said. “I thought it was a big step above the MP4-12C that I ran last year, and we took that to a podium finish in August.”
Hamaguchi too is race-ready having competed in the Suzuka 1000-kilometre SuperGT event last weekend, running at the front of the field before finishing just off the podium in the pole-sitting Lotus.
The final entry for the FFF Racing Team by ACM, will see the return of Australian duo Nathan Antunes and two-time Bathurst 12-Hour winner Rod Salmon.
The duo made their debut for the team at Fuji, suffering a litany of issues across the weekend, but at times showed the kind of pace that sees Antunes leading the Australian GT Championship after finishing on the podium twice during the Sydney round of the championship two weeks ago.
Salmon too has kept himself fit, the reigning Australian GT Trophy Class champion contesting some national series events in his Audi R8 to prepare himself for the rigours of Malaysia’s heat across the three-hour Saturday afternoon endurance event.
“I’m used to endurance racing now, having done a number (and it’s a big number) of Bathurst 12-Hour races, we started in the Nurburgring 24-Hour race this year on the tail of some lengthy qualifying races, so yeah, I’d say I’m okay with the three-hour format,” Salmon admitted.
“The heat might be an issue, but we’ll have cool suits to keep our body temperatures down, and with the way the three compulsory pit stops are scheduled, I can give Nathan the bulk of the laps to go and do his thing – I’m really looking forward to it.”
“I like Sepang,” Antunes admitted. “I really do. I raced there last year in the Lamborghini, but more recently I spent over a week there doing driver development with Mercedes Benz, so I’ve walked and driven every square inch of the place this year, and that will be invaluable.
“The race will be interesting, especially with pit stops, but provided we don’t have any unfortunate Safety Car interventions to upset our race strategy and the timing of our stops, I think there’s every chance Rod and I could be on the podium. It’s going to be an epic event!”
All the action will be played out online this weekend, with Twitter and Facebook hosting information, with images and video from every day, whilst on Saturday, the big race will be broadcast live with internationally renowned commentator Jonathon Green calling the shots. All details will be available via;
Ben Potter

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