Formula Masters China Series (FMCS) newcomer Martin Rump of Estonia made an impressive Asian debut by winning Race 1 at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, leading from pole to flag in a faultless display of car control after a tropic downpour. The 19-year-old Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG driver crossed the line more than three seconds ahead of second-placed driver, Australian Jake Parsons of Meritus GP, who is contesting his first full FMCS season this year after finishing fourth in 2014.
South African Matthew Swanepoel did new FMCS team Arrows Racing proud, climbing from seventh on the grid to claim the final podium place after a 9-lap race which began behind the Safety Car.
With thunderclouds a precursor to a torrential Malaysian downpour, the start was delayed. With all earlier sessions this weekend held in dry conditions, the drivers did well to quickly acclimatize to the dramatically-altered track.
As racing got underway, Rump made a good getaway as the Safety Car pulled off, leaving his rivals – led by Parsons – in a cloud of spray. “I didn’t know what the level of competition was going to be like in Asia, but last year I raced with [2014 FMCS champion] James Munro in New Zealand, and we were quite similar in pace, so I was expecting to be up there. Maybe not on the top step today, but I was definitely going to work with my KCMG team to improve throughout the season and get there sooner or later.” Behind the Australian a spin ended the race of Eurasia Motorsport’s Asuka Muratomi after just two laps, the Japanese driver having qualified third.
Asuka’s brother and team mate, Takeru Muratomi was running a strong third, ahead of Swanepoel and Muratomi’s team mate Aidan Read. However, with Takeru’s retirement after a spin, Swanepoel inherited the final podium place.
Thailand’s Worawong Komarakul (Meritus.GP) had an eventful opening race. After stalling on the grid, he ploughed through the field to cross the line fourth, but was later handed two, 30 second penalties for regulation infringements, dropping him down to the bottom of the time sheets.
That promoted Aidan Read (Eurasia Motorsport) to fourth, ahead of Nicholas Rowe (Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG) and Sean Hudspeth (Eurasia Motorsport). Top finisher amongst the Chinese drivers was Meritus.GP’s Yuan Bo, 2014 FMCS Chinese Driver Champion.
There was disappointment for Star Racing Academy newcomer, Chinese driver Zheng Shangguan of Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG, when a technical glitch prevented him for starting the race, however fellow SRA driver and team mate Jeffrey Ye managed to successfully navigate the atrocious track conditions to complete his debut race, finishing 10th.
Earlier, in the two Qualifying sessions to set the grids for Race 1 and Race 3, Rump was quickest in the first session, ahead of Parsons, Asuka and Takeru Muratomi. However, Asuka secured pole for Race 3 in the second qualifying run, setting the fastest overall lap of both sessions.
After the opening race of the 2015 FMCS season, Rump leads the Drivers Classification from Parsons, Swanepoel and Read, and Yuan tops the Chinese Drivers Classification from Eurasia Motorsport’s Hua Miao and Ye. Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG tops the race for the team title with a ten point lead from Meritus.GP.