Front row start for Kotaro Sakurai in round 3

Date posted on May 18, 2010 · Published by Mark Goddard

Kotaro Sakurai led a Eurasia one-two-three in the Pacific standings after qualifying for round three of the F.BMW Pacific Series held at Sepang on May 15th. Sakurai was a mere .062 of a second slower than guest driver and pole man Daniil Kyvat with fellow guest drivers Michael Lewis and Carlos Sainz Jr just in front of Eurasia’s Nabil Jeffri and Championship leader, Richard Bradley.

Sakurai was happy to be so close to pole and to be starting from pole position in his third event whilst Nabil Jeffri was pleased to be second of the Pacific Series point scorers and first local driver on the grid. Bradley who had dominated the first event and was consistently fast in practice was disappointed to be 6th on the grid after he met traffic on his “tyre window” laps on both new sets during qualifying.

At the start Kyvat led from Sakurai with a fast starting Bradley up to third. The leading duo pulled away whilst Bradley, Sainz and Lewis fought over third place. Sakurai took the lead with a brave dive up the inside of a weaving Kyvat at turn one on lap 5. It was a lead he was to keep to the last lap despite a bent front steering arm after contact during his pass for the lead. Bradley was embroiled in the battle for third which ended in tears on lap 7 when Lewis appeared to turn into the Singapore based driver, tearing off Bradley’s rear wheel in the process.

Sakurai looked in control with a 1.5 second lead at Turn 12 on the last lap when the damaged steering arm gave way causing him to spin out of control, crashing into Sainz Jr as he attempted to regain the circuit. Sakurai limped back to the pits on three wheels taking the chequered flag in the pit lane. Nabil Jeffri finished 7th overall, 5th Pacific Series runner after a brave run. The Malaysian was suffering from a high fever and was struggling in the humid heat. Duvashen Padayachee was tenth in the Pacific Series points after a good drive in traffic.

The Stewards were busy after the race, penalising Kyvat three grid positions for the next round for weaving in front of Sakurai whilst the latter was given a five grid position grid penalty for crashing into Sainz, reduced from the normal 10 places due to mitigating circumstances, namely his broken steering arm.

Round four was held two hours later and the team worked miracles to repair Sakurai’s extensively damaged car and get it out before the pit lane closed with less than a second in hand! The finishing touches we put to the car on the grid before the start. Bradley made a great start to slot into third before he was harpooned by James Birch (penalised 10 grid positions for round five for his actions) spinning the Eurasia driver who was hit by a passing Calvin Wong bending his rear wing to a crazy angle. Despite dropping to the back of the 23 car field he was able to force his way back to 8th place, 5th in the points after a ‘champions’ drive. Sakurai finished fifth, second in the points after a great drive with a car that was set up by eye on the grid. It was all for nothing as the rear wing main-plane was found to be one degree over the allowed limit and, despite the fact it gave no advantage as it adversely affected his straight-line speed, he was disqualified, consigning him to last on the grid for round six the following day. No other penalties were applied due to the mitigating circumstances. Nabil Jeffri was a fine 5th overall, second in the points, despite having to take anti-biotics due to his high fever. Duvashen Padayachee was tenth, 7th in the points, after another forceful drive.

Rounds 5 and 6 will take place on Sunday 16th May.