•Pair of podium lockouts for Dragon HitechGP trio clinches team title on Asian debut
•Hughes tops leaderboard in two-way championship duel with team mate Hyman as title goes down to the wire
•Yin Hai Tao strengthens Masters title bid with double victories
Shanghai, China (October 14, 2018) – Dragon HitechGP rounded out a perfect Ningbo weekend which saw them take two clean sweeps of the podium in Races 11 and 12 of the F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA to secure the Team title in their Asian debut season. GP3 driver Jake Hughes continued his unbroken run of success, taking his ninth win from nine pole positions in Race 12 at the 4.101km Chinese track. Second in both races was title rival and team mate Raoul Hyman, with 17-year-old Macau driver Charles Leong third.
Hughes now has 225 championship points with three races remaining– for a maximum of 75 points – to be held at the inaugural season finale at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit in November. Hyman, 33 points behind, is well within striking distance, but cannot afford to put a foot wrong whether or not Hughes, who is scheduled to be on GP3 duty that weekend, is able to make the trip to Malaysia.
Impressive consistency from Absolute Racing’s Jaden Conwright, who just missed out on a podium in both races today, sees him third on the leaderboard on 150 points. That puts the American mathematically in title contention, but Hughes would win by virtue of wins in the event of a tie.
Leong had a strong weekend at the tight and twisting Ningbo track, collecting three podiums and brilliantly fending off a hard-charging Hyman on a treacherously wet track right up until the dying minutes of Race 12. Absolute Racing’s Akash Nandy suffered mixed fortunes, but maintains fifth on the leaderboard, while Super License driver Tomoki Takahashi took a gamble on slicks which didn’t pay off in the final race of the weekend.
In the Masters class, China’s Yin Hai Tao of ZEN Motorsport took both victories today from fellow countryman Ryan Liu of Emc2 Racing, who sportingly overcame multiple challenges during the Ningbo weekend.
The finale of the inaugural F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA will be held from November 23-25, at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia where Races 13-15 will see the 2018 Driver and Masters class titles decided.
With each driver’s fastest lap setting the starting order for Race 11, it was Hughes who once again led the field away, although Wahome was delayed on the grid, joining at the rear and losing the advantage of his fourth-row slot.
Hyman held off an early-race challenge from team mate Leong, while behind the Dragon HitechGP trio, Conwright came under fire from Takahashi who had got by Nandy at the start. The American pulled clear of his Japanese rival, allowing him to close up to Leong and eye a podium finish.
Further down the order, Prette had made up some places from his P12 grid position, running in 8th behind impressive Chinese series newcomer Kang Ling.
Approaching the mid-way point, Liu, who was struggling to get heat into his new tires, misjudged the braking zone while battling with Gowda, losing his front wing in the process. The Masters title contender pitted and the team quickly got the car back out on track, allowing Liu to take second in class and valuable championship points.
In the closing stages, Takahashi made one final attack on Conwright on the penultimate lap, but the American once again resisted. Masters driver Hata came to a stop at the chicane on the final lap, disappointment for a second time for the Super License driver in as many races.
Hughes, though, continued his unbroken run of victories, sailing across the line more than five seconds clear of team mates Hyman and Leong, the trio repaying the hard work and flawless preparation of Dragon HitechGP with the first-ever F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA Team title. Conwright took a hard-earned fourth from Takahashi, with Nandy fifth ahead of Ling and Prette. While Yin took the Masters win, Liu was second despite his pit stop and a subsequent five second penalty for a pit lane speed limit infringement.
With the field shod with Giti wets for the first time this season, Hughes again led the field away from pole behind the safety car. Once the drivers had the measure of track conditions they were released, and when racing got underway, Hughes was able to pull away as Hyman began what was to be a sustained attack on team mate Leong for second place.
Behind them, Conwright gave chase while Takahashi – on slicks – was initially able to keep up ahead of Nandy and an on-fire Louis Prette of BlackArts Racing. However, the Japanese driver quickly began dropping down the field, eventually pitting to have wets fitted.
Meanwhile, Hyman became increasingly desperate to get by Leong, and the pair had the crowds on their feet. Conwright was able to close up on the battling Dragon HitechGP pair, who were equally matched on pace.
With just two minutes to go, Hyman made his move, diving past Leong, tapping his sidepod on the way by and moving up to second. A furious Leong tried to fight back, but wasn’t able to mount a comeback in the remaining minutes before the flag.
Jake Hughes (Dragon HitechGP) – Race 11 winner
“Winning is really fun, it never gets old! Raoul being P2, I knew the gap would be closer and I think from half way to the end of the race we were fighting for fastest lap every lap. I think the gap I got made itself in the early laps when Raoul was defending from Charles. After that, we were quite even. Dragon HitechGP one-two-three again, so we’re a pretty dominant team. They’ve given us a mega car.”
Raoul Hyman (Dragon HitechGP) – Race 11 2nd
“I’m happy for the team. They’ve done an awesome job. In the race, the start wasn’t great. We’ve been trying to sort something out with the clutch and I just haven’t gotten it right yet, so I know what to do for the next race. The first lap was pretty challenging with Charles. He said he was going to give me a run for it and he did, so fair enough.”
Yin Hai Tao (ZEN Motorsport) – Race 11 Masters Class winner
“A win in any championship is good. My performance is getting better and better, but still the lap times are no consistent during the races, so I still have a lot of work to do.”
Jake Hughes (Dragon HitechGP) – Race 12 winner
[On participation in final rounds] “Unfortunately it’s not my decision. I’m happy to say I would want to be in Malaysia, obviously. We’ll see. I was just trying to concentrate on the races I did, and it went very well for me. The car suited me and I liked racing with Dragon HitechGP – they gave all three of us a mega car every single weekend. Today was the first wet race for the championship. The grip was good and the tire works well. Hopefully see you all in Malaysia!”
Charles Leong (Dragon HitechGP) – Race 12 3rd
“It’s very challenging here, and it’s very easy to make a mistake, especially in the braking zone. I made a couple of mistakes out there in a couple of corners, so I need to improve on that.”
F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA
Race 11 Results
Race 11 Results
Fastest Lap: Jake Hughes/Dragon HitechGP/Lap 12/1:40.798/143.21kph
Race 12 Results
Fastest Lap: Jake Hughes/Dragon HitechGP/1:54.985/Lap 3/125.54kph
Drivers Classification after Race 12
Masters Classification after Race 12