Ananda Mikola top six finish in feature race – June 25 06

Date posted on June 25, 2006 · Published by Mark Goddard

Ananda Mikola salvaged a competitive fifth place finish in the Renault V6 Asia feature race at the Sepang F1 Circuit after enduring a difficult race weekend. An over optimistic Hanns Lin crashed into Mikola in the sprint race robbing him of an almost certain podium finish resulting in a back of the grid start for the feature race.

The event began on a difficult note when freight delays saw the car’s rebuilt engine arrive late from Europe. In fact it arrived late on Thursday night of race week! The team had an “all nighter” installing the engine but Mikola was unable to take to the track for the practice session on Friday due to gearbox problems. Once the Renault technical support staff had solved the problems Mikola was forced to go straight into qualifying without having turned a wheel. The Indonesian star just missed the cut for the top six, qualifying seventh on the grid.

“The team was frustrated due to the late arrival of the engine, we assume due to customs delays, and then the gearbox problem. The Renault guys worked hard to solve the problem, these teething problems are to be expected with such a complicated car, and the team did a great job to get Ananda out for qualifying” said a team spokesman.

Mikola had fought his way up to fourth in the wet sprint race when Hanns Lin, who was over two seconds behind, seemingly forgot to brake for the last turn and speared into the unfortunate Indonesian, damaging two corners on the car and putting him out of the race. To make matters worse the recovery crew, after the race, attempted to drag the car back to the pits, at one point almost turning it upside down! The car suffered significant additional damage and again gave the team an “all nighter” to get the car back in racing trim. The car recovery was a sorry affair, taking place in front of the World’s press who were present for the Japanese GT event, and a bad advertisement for Asian Motor Sport. The team received an apology from the officials concerned and we hope the lesson has been learnt and that no other competitor will have to suffer at the hands of ineptitude track workers and more importantly the race officials who instructed them to retrieve the car through any means with no consideration for the damage done to the car.

Mikola quickly fought his way up to fifth position in the feature race, his lap times on par with all but race winner, Matt Halliday, but he had lost too much time to progress any further. A late race safety car restart gave some hope, but Ananda ran out of time to move up. On the last lap Hanns Lin again left his braking too late, this time assaulting Denis Lian and without his front suspension went on to have a huge accident at the first turn, fortunately without injury.

The next event will be at Mikola’s home circuit, Sentul near Jakarta, and both driver and team have high hopes for a good result. “This is a new series and we have all suffered from ‘new car’ problems to some degree but these problems are being resolved by Renault technical support and I am sure we will have a more competitive event at Sentul” said the team spokesman.