Jakes Hughes takes championship lead after sensational Shanghai debut

Sep 23, 2018
•Dragon HitechGP driver overtakes team mate Raoul Hyman with double victories
•Podium finishes for Tomoki Takahashi, Charles Leong, Hyman and Jaden Conwright
•Championship concludes successful debut at Shanghai International Circuit, home of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix  

Shanghai, China (September 23, 2018) – Dragon HitechGP’s Jake Hughes continued his stunning return to the F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA winning Races 8 and 9 on the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit to catapult himself back to the top of the leaderboard. A gearbox glitch for team mate Raoul Hyman in Race 8 saw him toppled from the top spot, and the Briton now sits 12 points behind Hughes. 

Absolute Racing’s Jaden Conwright of the USA retains third in the Drivers’ Classification after wrapping up the triple-header weekend with a wheel-perfect run to third in Race 9. Dragon Hitech GP’s Charles Leong was forced to fight hard for his podium in Race 8 and fourth place in Race 9, the 17-year-old Macau driver showing both talent and maturity beyond his years to move up to fourth in the standings. Conwright’s team mate Akash Nandy experienced mixed fortunes in Shanghai, and heads to the next rounds in Ningbo fifth ahead of Race 8 podium finisher Tomoki Takahashi of Super License.

In the Masters class, Yin Hai Tao of ZEN Motorsport retains his lead, but Race 9 winner Takashi Hata of Super License is now just ten points behind, with Liu Zexuan of Emc2 Racing third ahead of B-Max Racing Team’s DRAGON. 

The F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA continues next month with Races 10-12 at China’s Ningbo International Speedway from October 12-14. 

Race 8

As Hughes once again took his place on pole position with team mate Hyman alongside, further down the grid there was an early setback for M-Sport Asia’s Akash Gowda who was pushed back to the pits, eventually starting the race from pitlane but crossing the line in eleventh place.

However, as the lights went out for the penultimate time in Shanghai, Hyman stayed alongside Hughes into turn 1, but the championship leader held the line to retain the lead. Behind them, Takahashi had a bad getaway which dropped him down to fifth, but the talented Japanese driver was quickly back on the attack. Climbing back up the order to fourth behind Leong, in a repeat of his Race 7 move, he dived on the inside of the Macau driver and up into podium contention. As Takahashi set off on the hunt for Hyman ahead, Leong fought to stay with him while fighting off a spirited attack from Nandy in fifth.

The cracker of an opening lap continued as Takahashi once again came under fire from Leong, losing a place before snatching it back on the inside at Turn 6, the pair hurtling side-by-side into the next corner. The cat and mouse duel continued with Takahashi again losing then regaining third before managing put some air between him and his rival. Next Leong faced another barrage from Nandy, who led from Conwright and Yu. 

SVC Asia’s Jeremy Wahome had an unlucky race. After contact during the heated opening lap, understeer saw him pit on lap 5 while running in eighth. He been unaware of the damage sustained to his front wing, which subsequently forced his retirement, until he pitted.

As Hughes continued to pull away in the lead with his team mate tenaciously giving chase, it was to be disappointment for Hyman when a technical issue dropped him down to ninth in the order with just eight minutes remaining on the clock. He eventually managed to cross the line in eighth and in the points.

Meanwhile Leong, now third, was manfully attempting to keep Takahashi in his sights while trying to shake off an unyielding challenge from Nandy, now even more determined to get himself into podium contention after Hyman’s misfortune. Nandy pushed all the way to the flag, the pair almost making contact on the penultimate lap, but Leong was determined not to concede to the Malaysian and took a well-earned third podium finish of the season.

In the Masters class, an on-form Liu Zexuan took his second win of the weekend, followed across the line by Yin Hai Tao. Takashi Hata took third, bouncing back after retiring in Race 7 with a technical issue. 

Race 9

Starting from pole for the third time this weekend, Hughes got away well once again, but Hyman was away like lightning, diving past first Yu Kuai then Conwright and up to second into Turn 1. Takahashi, fifth on the grid was another driver to capitalize on a strong start, but went in too deep and dropped down the order behind Leong. Yu was another casualty of a hectic start, dropping right down the order to eighth ahead of M-Sport Asia’s Akash Gowda. Meanwhile BlackArts Racing’s Louis Prette was a man on the move, and up to sixth behind Takahashi before getting by the Japanese ace and homing in on Leong.

While Yu climbed back up the order to seventh having battled past Nandy, Prette had closed right up to Leong in fourth, filling his mirrors and making his intentions clear. However, having withstood a prolonged challenge from Nandy in Race 8, stood firm. 

After dropping down the order, Lap 10 saw Yu pull into the pits and retire, a disappointing result having qualified in third.

Hughes, meanwhile, continued to power untroubled to the flag, setting the fastest lap of the race two laps from the flag, to cross the line more than seven seconds ahead of Hyman. Conwright was untroubled on his run to the third podium place ahead of a steadfast Leong chased all the way by Prette. 

Masters class driver Yin Hai Tao was pushed from the grid before the start. Although the ZEN Motorsport driver eventually joined the pack from pit lane, he retired on Lap 4. Super License driver Takashi Hata took victory ahead of Liu Zexuan of Emc2 Racing and B-Max Racing Team’s DRAGON and Thomas Luedi of BlackArts Racing.

Driver quotes:

Jake Hughes/GBR/Dragon HitechGP – 1st Races 8 and 9
“The start was pretty difficult. Raoul got alongside me, but I squeezed into the inside at Turn 1 just to try and scare him I guess to knock him into the corner, which is what happened. I kept the lead, but he was quick in the early laps and I think he stayed with me really well. I had a bit of pressure and I knew I couldn’t make a mistake. Somewhere mid-race he had a problem, so I had a big gap and the last two laps, I took it easy. It’s good [to lead the championship] for sure. I didn’t expect to be leading after the second race even if I won every race, if Raoul finished second I wouldn’t be championship leader. His problem helps [me] but it’s a shame for the team. Dragon HitechGP we do a really good job.

I felt in that race Raoul was closer to me on pace and was pushing me quite a lot. If you make a mistake it costs you a lot of lap time. I feel as though everyone is getting used to the cars more and more. Given my experience I got on top of it really quickly. I’m really close to the limit, and it feels like everyone is gaining on me. 

[On the choice of championship with the final round clashing with his GP3 Series campaign] I know what I would do, but it’s not necessarily my decision unfortunately. It’s obviously going very well for me here. If the championship is still alive after Ningbo and it looks good, then I know what I’d like to do.”

Jaden Conwright/USA/Absolute Racing – 3rd Race 9
“I made a small mistake on the start, but I had a good recovery and was able to still hold the position and get on the podium, so good points, a good finish. Hopefully in Ningbo I’ll have the same pace as I did in the last round there, but you never know. It’ll be a completely different weekend from the last one, so we’ll just have to keep our heads down and keep working hard.” 

Tomoki Takahashi/JPN/Super License – 2nd Race 8 
“I had a bad start and was down to fifth on lap one. Usually I panic, but this time I just took a breath and kept on battling and it was successful.”

Charles Leong/MAC/Dragon HitechGP – 3rd Race 8
“I was under a lot of pressure. I made a few mistakes, which is not what I wanted and Tomoki went ahead. I think I hurt the tires quite a lot during the race, so at the end I kind of got caught up by Akash. We had a fight between us, and I just managed it.”

Liu Zexuan/CHN/Emc2 Racing – 1st Masters Class Race 8
“[To prepare for the race] I slept well last night! Yesterday I went back to the hotel and thought about whether there was any place I could improve. I think today, on the first lap I was hit and lost some positions. I was pretty happy I could get the position back and follow the front cars for along time. I’m quite happy with the whole journey, but definitely I can get better.”

F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA
Results Race 8
  # Name Nat Team Times
1 34 Jake HUGHES GBR Dragon HitechGP 25:16.821
2 7 Tomoki TAKAHASHI JPN Super License +13.240
3 11 Charles LEONG MAC Dragon HitechGP +16.305
4 29 Akash NANDY MAL Absolute Racing +16.845
5 80 Jaden CONWRIGHT     USA     Absolute Racing +20.781
6 5 YU Kuai CHN ZEN Motorsport +24.500
7 4 Louis PRETTE HKG BlackArts Racing +24.677
8 27 Raoul HYMAN GBR Dragon HitechGP +25.714
9 6 LIU Zexuan (M) CHN Emc2 Racing +40.665
10 3 YIN Hai Tao (M) CHN ZEN Motorsport +41.245
11 33 Akash GOWDA IND M-Sport Asia +41.579
12 2 Takashi HATA (M) JPN Super License +44.246
13 30     DRAGON (M) JPN B-Max Racing Team     +1:02.604    
14 9 Thomas LUEDI (M) HKG BlackArts Racing +1:05.626
DNF     8 Jeremy WAHOME KEN SVC Asia -
Fastest Lap: Jake Hughes/Dragon HitechGP/2:05.747

Results Race 9
  # Name Nat Team Times
1 34     Jake HUGHES GBR Dragon HitechGP           25:04.011   
2 27 Raoul HYMAN GBR    Dragon HitechGP +7.395
3 80 Jaden CONWRIGHT      USA Absolute Racing +15.498
4 11 Charles LEONG MAC Dragon HitechGP +19.017
5 4 Louis PRETTE HKG BlackArts Racing +21.433
6 7 Tomoki TAKAHASHI JPN Super License +23.608
7 29 Akash NANDY MAL Absolute Racing +24.917
8 33 Akash GOWDA IND M-Sport Asia +38.919
9 2 Takashi HATA (M) JPN Super License +40.858
10        6 LIU Zexuan (M) CHN Emc2 Racing +41.396
11 8 Jeremy WAHOME KEN SVC Asia +50.547
12 30 DRAGON (M) JPN B-Max Racing Team +1:02.845
13 9 Thomas LUEDI (M) HKG BlackArts Racing +1:03.925
DNF 5 YU Kuai CHN ZEN Motorsport -
DNF 3 YIN Hai Tao (M) CHN ZEN Motorsport -
Fastest Lap: Jake Hughes/Dragon HitechGP/2:04.925

F3 Asian Championship 2018 Drivers Classification after Race 9
Pos       # Driver Team Points        
1 34      Jake HUGHES Dragon HitechGP 150
2 27 Raoul HYMAN Dragon HitechGP 138
3 80 Jaden CONWRIGHT                Absolute Racing             118
4 11 Charles LEONG Dragon HitechGP 98
5 29 Akash NANDY Absolute Racing 91
6 7 Tomoki TAKAHASHI Super License 86
7 5 YU Kuai ZEN Motorsport 52
8 34 Ben HINGELEY Dragon HitechGP 43
9 4 Louis PRETTE BlackArts Racing 40
10 0 Chase OWEN Chase Owen Racing 24
11 8 Jeremy WAHOME SVC Asia 18
11 33 Akash GOWDA M-Sport Asia 18
13 6 LIU Ze Xuan Emc2 Racing 10
14 55 Daniel CAO Pinnacle Motorsport 7
15 3 YIN Hai Tao ZEN Motorsport 7
16 32 Presley MARTONO BlackArts Racing 6
17 2 Takashi HATA Super License 2

F3 Asian Championship 2018 Masters Classification after Race 9
Pos       #         Driver Team Points        
1 3 YIN Hai Tao ZEN Motorsport              158
2 2 Takashi HATA                           Super License 148
3 6 LIU Ze Xuan Emc2 Racing 131
4 30 DRAGON B-Max Racing Team 72
5 9 Thomas LUEDI BlackArts Racing 34


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