Joey Alders and Jack Doohan share spoils in final day of F3 Asian Championship Malaysian season-opener

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BlackArts Racing’s Joey Alders continued his phenomenal start to the 2020 F3 Asian Championship today with a second consecutive victory in Race 2 at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

 

A podium finish in Race 3 puts the 20-year-old at the top of the Drivers’ Classification at the end of Round 1 – and edges him closer to the 18 super licence points for this year’s champion. Championship runner-up last season, Red Bull Racing Junior driver Jack Doohan, took a flawless pole-to-flag run in Race 3 for a strong finish to the opening weekend for the 16-year-old Pinnacle Motorsport driver.

Race 2 saw an unstoppable Alders plough past pole-sitter DeFrancesco into the first turn and snatch the lead, after which the Dutch driver was never headed. Behind him though, an epic battle saw Nikita Mazepin and Absolute Racing’s Daniel Cao duke it out for the remaining podium positions all the way to the flag, with the Russian holding resolutely on to second despite the best efforts of the Chinese driver.

Starting from pole in Race 3, Doohan blasted away from the field off the start and headed off unchallenged to the flag. There was redemption for DeFrancesco after the Canadian pounced on Alders on the final lap of the race to snatch second after the Dutchman fell victim to the tricky wet track conditions.

In the Masters category, Paul Wong took the Race 2 win after Thomas Luedi was unable to take the start. However, the BlackArts Racing driver was back with a vengeance in the final race of the weekend, to take his second class win of the new season.

After the first three races of the 15-race 2020 season, Alders tops the Drivers’ Classification with 65 points, 18 ahead of Doohan with Mazepin third on 40 points. DeFrancesco’s strong debut weekend puts him fourth in the points ahead of Absolute Racing team mate Cao. In the Team Classification, BlackArts Racing tops the leaderboard with an impressive 26-point lead from Absolute Racing.

The F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA continues next month with its debut in the Middle East. Two back-to-back Rounds start with Races 4 to 6 at the Dubai Autodrome from January 10 and 11, followed by Races 7 to 9 at the F1 Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. With 18 valuable super licence points for the 2020 champion, the competition is expected to intensify further as the hottest single seater championship in Asia expands its horizons yet further.

Race 2
After morning downpours, Race 2 was declared wet and the field lined up on wets for the first time this weekend. With the fastest laps in Race 1 setting the grid, DeFrancesco started on pole and the opening race winner Alders alongside, with reigning champion Ukyo Sasahara and Doohan on the second row. Two sighting laps gave the drivers a chance to assess the track conditions before proceedings got underway, and the race was therefore reduced to from 30 to 27 minutes.

As the lights went out, DeFrancesco got away well but Alders had an even better launch, immediately pulling alongside the Canadian before inching ahead and snatching the lead into Turn 1. DeFrancesco was swamped by the charging pack, dropping down to fourth as Mazepin rocketed from his P6 starting position and up into second with Cao giving chase. Mazepin’s team mate Jake Hughes was another driver on the move, up from P8 to fourth on the opening lap.

Seven GP’s Tatiana Calderón wasn’t wasting time either, the Colombian ploughing through the field from P13 and up to 8th behind Yu Kanamaru and Yu Kuai by the end of lap 2.

With 20 minutes remaining on the clock, Mazepin began closing in on Alders and the race lead, coming within half a second of the BlackArts Racing driver. The Russian was pushing hard in the tricky track conditions, as Cao kept the pair in front within striking distance, and the trio pulled clear of the rest of the field. Behind them, Hughes led from Yu Kanamaru while Calderón continued her climb, getting past Yu Kuai and up to sixth.

As Mazepin fought to get close enough to Alders to make his move, Cao managed to close up to the Hitech Grand Prix driver, tucking into his slipstream and eyeing a move. As the pair battled, with Mazepin keeping the Chinese driver expertly at bay, Alders was able to take a breather and pull a gap of more than a second from the pair behind.

The cat and mouse battle continued, with Mazepin never losing sight of the main prize ahead, closing up to Alders before once again being forced to switch focus and defend from an increasingly frustrated Cao.

In the closing laps, Cao ensured Mazepin was not able to mount a serious challenge for the win, the pair fighting hard but fair all the way to the flag. Fourth across the line was Calderón, an impressive result from her start from the back of the grid, with Alders’ team mate Yu Kanamaru fifth ahead of Zen Motorsport’s Yu Kuai.

Hughes finished seventh after a mid-race pitstop ahead of Doohan, DeFrancesco, Jamie Chadwick, Tommy Smith, Pietro Fittipaldi and Alessio Deledda.  

Race 3

The field shod with slicks, the damp circuit gave the drivers starting on the dryer right hand side of the track an advantage off the line, and Doohan was away like a rocket, immediately pulling out a gap. Across the track from the Australian, Sasahara made a slower getaway and was immediately overhauled by Alders who had started behind Doohan, and then Yu Kuai. Behind the Japanese driver, DeFrancesco, Fittipaldi and Smith gave chase.

Cao also lost out at the start, dropping down the order from P6 to tenth but immediately starting a fight back, briefly getting past Hughes before the Briton reclaimed 8th behind Tommy Smith.

Mazepin was on a charge from the rear of the grid, storming up to 10th by the end of the second lap and continuing to pick his way through the field to cross the line an impressive fifth.

Doohan continued to pull away at the front, extending his advantage from Alders, Sasahara, DeFrancesco, Yu and Fittipaldi who was running a strong 6th. However, a lap later the Brazilian appeared to experience a return of the technical problems which had plagued his weekend, dropping him down the order and seeing him eventually cross the line in 11th behind Smith.

With seven minutes remaining on the clock, Mazepin got past Hitech Grand Prix team mate Hughes to climb to sixth. Moments later, there was drama for Sasahara when, lining up for a move on second placed Alders, the Japanese driver lost the back end and tipped the car into a spin. His retirement put DeFrancesco in podium contention just as rain was reported at Turns 3 and 7.

In a last-lap thriller, and with the chequered flag almost in sight, Alders locked up as he struggled to maintain control in the slippery conditions. As he ran wide, DeFrancesco needed no second invitation, diving past and up to second just moments before the finish. Doohan, too, almost lost it at the final turn before the flag, but he was not to be denied his first victory of the new season.

It was another strong finish for Zen Motorsport’s Yu Kuai, sixth in Race 2, ahead of Mazepin, Hughes, Cao, Chadwick, Calderón and Smith in 10th ahead of Fittipaldi and Deledda.

 

Pos

#

Name

Nat

Team

 Time

1

23

Joey ALDERS

NED

BlackArts Racing

28:06.708

2

3

Nikita MAZEPIN

RUS

Hitech Grand Prix

+2.515

3

5

Daniel CAO

CHN

Absolute Racing

+2.893

4

25

Tatiana CALDERÓN

COL

Seven GP

+38.172

5

33

Yu KANAMARU

GBR

BlackArts Racing

+39.631

6

4

YU Kuai

CHN

Zen Motorsport

+45.356

7

2

Jake HUGHES

GBR

Hitech Grand Prix

+50.351

8

7

Jack DOOHAN

AUS

Pinnacle Motorsport

+1:20.909

9

17

Devlin DEFRANCESCO

CAN

Absolute Racing

+1:22.516

10

15

Jamie CHADWICK

GBR

Absolute Racing

1:43.236

11

16

Tommy SMITH

AUS

Absolute Racing

1:43.484

12

21

Pietro FITTIPALDI

BRA

Pinnacle Motorsport

1:44.139

13

10

Alessio DELEDDA

ITA

Hitech Grand Prix

1 Lap

14

44

Paul WONG (M)

CHN

Zen Motorsport

1 Lap

NC

11

Ukyo SASAHARA*

JPN

Hitech Grand Prix

-

DNS

9

Thomas LUEDI (M)

HKG

BlackArts Racing

-

*Guest driver

Fastest Lap: Joey Alders/BlackArts Racing/2:19.314/143.2km/h


Results Race 3

Pos

#

Name

Nat

Team

 Time

1

7

Jack DOOHAN

AUS

Pinnacle Motorsport

32:04.076

2

17

Devlin DEFRANCESCO

CAN

Absolute Racing

+7.458

3

23

Joey ALDERS

NED

BlackArts Racing

+8.370

4

4

YU Kuai

CHN

Zen Motorsport

+10.605

5

3

Nikita MAZEPIN

RUS

Hitech Grand Prix

+15.902

6

2

Jake HUGHES

GBR

Hitech Grand Prix

+16.574

7

5

Daniel CAO

CHN

Absolute Racing

+17.886

8

15

Jamie CHADWICK

GBR

Absolute Racing

+17.988

9

25

Tatiana CALDERÓN

COL

Seven GP

+24.760

10

16

Tommy SMITH

AUS

Absolute Racing

+27.832

11

21

Pietro FITTIPALDI

BRA

Pinnacle Motorsport

+59.558

12

10

Alessio DELEDDA

ITA

Hitech Grand Prix

+1:15.969

13

9

Thomas LUEDI (M)

HKG

BlackArts Racing

+2:17.975

14

44

Paul WONG (M)

CHN

Zen Motorsport

2 Laps

NC

11

Ukyo SASAHARA*

JPN

Hitech Grand Prix

-

NC

33

Yu KANAMARU

GBR

BlackArts Racing

-


Fastest lap: Jack Doohan/Pinnacle Motorsport/2:02.686/162.6km/h


F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA Drivers’ Classification after Round 1

Pos

#

Name

Nat

Team

Points

1

23

Joey ALDERS

NED

BlackArts Racing

65

2

7

Jack DOOHAN

AUS

Pinnacle Motorsport

47

3

3

Nikita MAZEPIN

RUS

Hitech Grand Prix

40

4

17

Devlin DEFRANCESCO

CAN

Absolute Racing

35

5

5

Daniel CAO

CHN

Absolute Racing

31

6

4

YU Kuai

CHN

Zen Motorsport

22

7

33

Yu KANAMARU

GBR

BlackArts Racing

18

8

2

Jake HUGHES

GBR

Hitech Grand Prix

14

8

25

Tatiana CALDERÓN

COL

Seven GP

14

9

15

Jamie CHADWICK

GBR

Absolute Racing

11

10

16

Tommy SMITH


Results Race 2

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