Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG driver Martin Rump (19) and Jake Parsons (20) of Meritus.GP took a win apiece in today’s Races 5 and 6 of the Formula Masters China Series (FMCS) at the Shanghai International Circuit, setting up a championship rivalry that is certain to continue as the series approaches its season midpoint next month. A second-place finish in Race 6 meant Rump was just shy of a perfect weekend, but the Estonian now leads the FMCS Drivers Classification by a single point over Parsons.
Second on the podium behind Rump in Race 5 was teammate Nicholas Rowe (16) of Australia, with Malaysia’s Daniel Woodroof (19) of Meritus.GP third.
Parsons, whose mechanical problems in Race 5 meant that he lost out on valuable championship points, redeemed himself in Race 6, getting past pole-sitter Rump to take a comfortable victory. With Rump second, it was Yuan Bo of Meritus.GP who took the final podium position after a hard-fought 11 laps. Yuan, a third-year Star Racing Academy (SRA) driver, was also the top Chinese driver of the weekend and leads the 2015 Best Chinese Driver Trophy.
With Rump leading Parsons for the championship, Australian Aidan Read (16) of Eurasia Motorsport is third in the standings, ahead of Woodroof and Rowe.
In Race 5, Rump led from lights to flag, taking victory ahead of his team mate by more than five seconds. With Parsons, who was to start alongside Rump on the first row, forced to start from pit lane, Rowe inherited second. Woodroof slotted into third and began to pile on the pressure, igniting a battle that would last for the majority of the race. While Woodroof came within a tenth of a second on the opening lap, he was forced to defend against Read in the race’s closing stages, who was quickly closing in.
Behind the leaders, Yuan, Eurasia Motorsport driver Kim Jeong Tae of South Korea (19) and Star Racing Academy’s Sean Zheng Shangguan (17) of Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG were locked in a battle, with Kim and Zheng making contact on the final lap.
The final race of the triple-header was declared wet and from when the lights went out until the chequered flag there was thrilling, non-stop action, showcasing the competitiveness of China and the region’s leading junior single-seater championship. Rump held the lead at the start, with Parsons and teammate Woodroof making contact, forcing Woodroof back into the pits for a front wing change. Parsons then got past Rump on the opening lap and never looked back, sailing to victory with a more than five-second lead.
Behind Parsons and Rump, were Read, Yuan and Arrows Racing driver Matthew Swanepoel (20), who all battled for position. On the second lap, Yuan got past Read to take third, but Read retook the position, with Swanepoel also getting past. A lap later, it was Swanepoel in the final podium position, ahead of Yuan and Read. Yuan continued to pressure Swanepoel and on Lap 7, the Chinese driver finally got past and held third for the remainder of the race.
Further down the field, a battle between Singapore’s Sean Hudspeth (21) of Eurasia Motorsport, Rowe and 17-year old Super License driver Tomoki Takahashi of Japan emerged. On Lap 9, Rowe was hot on the tail of Kim in a battle for sixth, while Takahashi was right behind Hudspeth as they fought for eighth place. While Kim held onto the position, Takahashi got past Hudspeth on the penultimate lap.
In the closing stages of the race, Zheng was side by side with his team mate and fellow SRA driver Jeffrey Ye Junhui (17). Ye spun, while Zheng finished 10th.
With the first two race weekends complete, the third season of FMCS continues next month for Races 7-9 – the mid-point of the 18-race season – at the Penbay International Circuit. With the championship making its debut in Chinese Taipei, the drivers will have an added challenge, promising plenty of on-track drama.