Having so far successfully tackled every challenge set before them, Star Racing Academy drivers Jeffrey Ye, 18, and Sean Zheng, 17, have set their sights on the Formula Masters China Series triple-header at the Zhuhai International Circuit for another breakthrough performance. With Races 13-15 the penultimate weekend of the 2015 calendar, both drivers are determined to close their debut junior single-seater seasons on high note, and the Pan Delta Region circuit presents the ideal showcase for the fledgling talents to make an impression.
The only single-seater driver development programme in China, SRA was established in 2013 by Volkswagen Group China to nurture the next generation of Chinese motorsport heroes. In just three short seasons, the multi-year, holistic programme has already proven its efficacy, with third-year SRA drivers Bao Jin Long and Yuan Bo now racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, respectively.
The 2015 FMCS season has proved the optimum training ground for the young first-year SRA drivers – having competed on tracks from Formula 1 circuits in Malaysia and Shanghai to the series’ debut in Chinese Taipei, and on a street circuit in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Ye and Zheng are now set to take on the hard-braking 4.3 km Zhuhai, China’s first purpose-built motorsport facility.
Last month, the pair took on the tricky challenge of mastering a brand new street circuit on which there was zero room for error. Working alongside their dedicated team of coaches, trainers and engineers, both drivers made positive strides throughout the weekend, gaining in both pace and confidence and constantly battling for position. Zheng took home a sixth and an eighth-place, while Ye’s consistency was rewarded with his second consecutive Best Chinese Driver win. From their strong showing in Kuala Lumpur, the drivers carry the momentum as they head to Zhuhai.
Competing against a truly international FMCS field, with drivers from Australia, Europe, South Africa and the United States, the SRA duo are able to measure their performance against an intensely-competitive benchmark. Both Ye and Zheng have been busy preparing for the final two race weekends of the 2015 season with intensive fitness sessions at SRA partner Powerhouse Gym, and analysing data gathered from past seasons to ensure they’re on the front foot when they arrive in Zhuhai this week.
For Ye, the few weeks between the KL City Grand Prix and this weekend’s races have been particularly busy. He recently joined the Audi Sport customer racing Asia Young Driver Development Programme, where he will be mentored by Audi R8 LMS Cup driver Franky Cheng. As part of the initiative, was given an exclusive Audi R8 LMS Cup test where he was coached by former Formula 1 driver and defending Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Alex Yoong.
Zheng has also been hard at work and this summer began an internship with Top Speed, an international and highly respected racing team and motorsport promoter based in Shanghai. Working with Top Speed’s race engineers and mechanics, Zheng’s hands-on internship has given him a better understanding of motorsport, which will in turn assist him when he’s behind the wheel.
Dominic Lyncker, Head of Group Sports Car, Motorsport and Car Culture, Volkswagen Group (China), said that both drivers were continuing to show strong progress with each race weekend.
“The Star Racing Academy was designed to provide young drivers with the tools and support to learn and succeed over the long term, and we’re delighted how Jeffrey and Sean have been progressing throughout their debut single-seater season,” Lyncker said. “We believe that a strong single-seater foundation prepares drivers for a solid sports car career and, within FMCS, the SRA drivers have the opportunity to really develop their race craft and to gain the experience they need to become complete drivers. There is no better way to learn the fundamentals of motorsport than in junior single seaters. Be it aerodynamics, racecraft, or effectively communicating with your race engineer, these vital skills equip our drivers for long and successful careers in any discipline of the sport. Add our multi-level programme a wide variety of different race tracks and a team of experienced professional instructors, and we believe that in SRA we have created a truly winning formula.”
Races 13-15 of the Formula Masters China Series takes place this weekend at the Zhuhai International Circuit. With free practice scheduled for Friday, Ye and Zheng will take part in two qualifying sessions on Saturday, September 19 before the afternoon’s Race 13. Races 14 and 15 will take place on Sunday.