Hitech Dragon GP’s Jake Hughes took pole position for Races 1 and 3 of the new F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA today at Malaysia’s 5.543km Sepang International Circuit.
The Briton was the only driver to lap under the 2:04 second mark in the first of the two 15-minute sessions, beating team mates Charles Leong and Raoul Hyman to the top spot.
Hughes bettered his time in the second session, but local hero Akash Nandy of Absolute Racing will start Race 3 alongside him having separated the Hitech Dragon GP squad.
“We’re really happy to get double pole,” said Hughes. “Considering I didn’t do practice because I couldn’t get out of bed this morning [with a stomach bug]. I was in the medical centre when the track went green! I rushed into the car, did three laps and we got pole. The second session was a bit more civilized. I’m really happy to get pole. It’s not my first time in Malaysia but it is my first time in an Asian championship. I really enjoyed it but I’m not used to this humidity – I’m from Birmingham!
“I think all things considered the car has been thought out quite well. It’s weird having a halo for the first time but it doesn’t seem to be an issue as you don’t really notice it’s there. FIA Euro F3 as it is right now is far too expensive for the majority of people, so to get something like this is I think is more along with what you need nationally, in Europe as well. Things like British F3, German F3, you never know they might start using the car and come back to fruition a bit more. I think that for what it’s been made for, it does the job.”
For the start of the opening race of the Championship, Hyman and Akash Nandy will line up on the second row behind Hughes and Leong, Hitech Dragon GP having made a clean sweep of the top three spots. BlackArts Racing’s Louis Prette, quickest in the morning Free Practice, and Texan Chase Owen make up the third row.
Charles Leong was pleased to secured second spot on the grid, saying “I’m not very happy with both of the sessions as I made a small mistake in both. My second run at turn 1, I locked up the rear pretty badly when I went through there, and obviously that hurt my exit at turn 2. I should have done a lot better. The standards I set for myself are much higher. I want to be a really good driver. I don’t feel [any more pressure being a Macau driver] because we have Jake on the team and he finished in sixth in Macau so is obviously a good driver. I have things to learn from the team.”
Sunday’s Race 3 will see Leong and Hyman once start from the second row, but this time Nandy’s team mate Jaden Conwright of the USA and Super License driver Tomoki Takahashi start from P5 and P6.
The new 270hp F3 car, a collaboration between Tatuus and Autotecnica Motori, took to the track in anger for the first time, and has been hailed as a resounding success by the teams and drivers with Hughes also praising the new single engine, single chassis F3 format.
The teams, drivers and car all acquitted themselves well as they embarked upon a new era of Formula 3, both sessions uninterrupted and without incident.
Race 1 of the F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA starts 09:55 (GMT+8) tomorrow, followed by Race 2 at 15:00, and Race 3 on Sunday at 11:45. All races will be live streamed on www.f3asia.com and the championship’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Live timing is at https://livetiming.getraceresults.com/sepang#screen-results
Qualifying Race 1
Qualifying Race 3