Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted December 10, 2004 11:23
2004 AF3 Season Ends With a Bang
The 2004 Asian Formula 3 Championship Series finished off with a bang at the Batangas Racing Circuit. This series finale saw the participation of eight foreign drivers from Australia, Great Britain, Indonesia, Ireland, and Japan which added to the seven local drivers to form a fifteen car lineup.
The International Class was a split between John O'Hara of Shell Kinetic F3 and Ananda Mikola of Pertamina Fastron Kinetic F3, while British driver Oliver Turvey split the Promotional Class with Tyson Sy of Minardi Team Asia for a spectacular race finale which saw fireworks all throughout the race.
In qualifying, just edging out his closest rival Christian Jones, John O'Hara of Shell-Kinetic F3 Racing took pole position with a time of 1:23.955, while Christian Jones set a 1:24.136 which was just within two-tenths of the pole time. An exciting showdown is expected between the two as they are battling it out for the championship win. Qualifying in third was Ananda Mikola with 1:24.950. Tyson Sy followed, setting the pole for the Promotions Class at 1:25.014 ahead of Oliver Turvey who also clocked just within two-tenths of a second at 1:25.178. A flu-ridden Mark Goddard followed in sixth, ahead of Pepon Marave, who spun out after setting the seventh fastest time. The rest of the order from eighth was Richard Joson, John Pettit, Moreno Soeprapto, Enzo Pastor, Dado Pena, Roland Hermoso, Kenkou Miura, Don Pastor.
It was a clean first corner in Round 9 amidst expected fireworks as the championship was on its penultimate round. It was a clean getaway for polesitter John O'Hara as he manages a good start ahead of Christian Jones who followed behind with Ananda Mikola right on his tail. Dado Peña of Christian Jones Motorsport meanwhile was not so lucky and broke his driveshaft at the warm-up lap and was forced to retire. Roland Hermoso's car did not want to start and was relegated to the pit as a spectator instead.
The top three order was the same for the remainder of the race with the gap widening as O'Hara managed to extend his lead. Just behind them was an exciting battle for the Promotions Class between Speedtech Asia's Oliver Turvey and Minardi Team Asia's Tyson Sy. But Turvey would get the upper hand as a hard charging John Pettit tried to make his way up the ladder from 9th grid position.
2003 Champion Pepon Marave of Shell Kinetic F3 was apparently running with problems as he continued to slow down and defended his position amidst heavy pressure coming from Denso Hanjin JF3's Richard Joson. "My car was oversteering a lot especially on the left hand corners. I complained of understeer in the warm-up this morning. Apparently they put too much oversteer this time. I'll just try to catch up in the next race," said a disappointed Marave who had a good start. It was later a hard fought duel between Joson and Enzo Pastor who tailed behind and managed to get ahead of Joson. But Pastor later spun out and fell down the order amidst heavy pressure from Joson, who charged hard to get back his position.
Japanese driver Kenkou Miura of Denso Hanjin JF3 managed to climb up the order from his dismal 14th grid start as he managed to get past Enzo Pastor and managed a very critical dive on Marave in turn three. Moreno Soeprapto maintained his position to take third in his F3 debut for the the Promotions Class. Don Pastor, who had a bad start with his car almost not being able to join the warm-up lap stayed in last position for the remainder of the race.
The race ended with O'Hara ahead of Jones by a wide gap of 10-seconds. Mikola followed 6-seconds behind Jones in third. Turvey, who managed to get ahead of Sy managed a clean fourth overall and took the Promotions Class win. A well deserved 5th for Pettit as he charged up the order from 9th. Sy, unable to fend off Pettit was relegated to 6th ahead of an exhausted Goddard who driving with a flu. Joson stayed in 8th ahead of Soeprapto who took the Promotions Class third podium step. Miura closed the top ten followed by Marave ahead of the Pastor brothers with Enzo ahead of Don.
Fireworks were really expected in the final round with just 5 points separating Jones and O'Hara. At the start it was a almost a clean getaway for Jones as O'Hara tried to do a late closing hitting the left rear tire of Jones pretty hard sending him to the wall. This elminated them both drivers from the race. Mikola who had a good start in third immediately took the lead as Tyson Sy followed him just before the safety car came out to clear the debris from the track. John Pettit determined to get ahead followed closely behind Sy. Pettit managed to find a hole and overtook Sy just as the safety car went out and battled with Mikola for seven exciting laps. Sy kept his distance not wanting to jeopardize his championship points as a non-finish was definitely part of his agenda.
Following a good start, Joson took the opportunity and got up to fourth followed by Enzo Pastor who was determined to make up for a disappointing morning race. Closely following behind was Pepon Marave who had steering problems in morning race, determined to get himself a podium spot. As the safety car went out, Joson had to fend off hard charging Pastor and Marave who eventually got ahead as Joson lost fourth gear and fell down the order.
Dado Peña after having to start from the back of the grid make a quick climb up the order and charged ahead into fifth behind Turvey. After pressuring Turvey for a couple of laps, he managed to take the upper hand and advance to fourth to take the second podium spot for the Promotions Class, as Turvey was relegated to the third step.
A hard charging Pettit braked too late as he tried to take Mikola in turn four and went striaght into the tire barrier ending his race in lap 11 just a few laps to the checkered flag. Sy immediately advanced to second, while Marave who was running in fourth advanced to third for a podium spot. But Marave's podium spot was not yet to be decided as a hard charging Peña was closing the gap at a breakneck pace.
Meanwhile, it was an exciting duel between Enzo Pastor and Kenkou Miura, which was almost taken by Miura but was briefly interrupted when Don Pastor spun out in the 12th lap in the middle of turn three and forced everyone to slow down as the yellow flags came out. Luckily, Pastor's car rolled out of the way into grass before the next lap as the cars sped through. A hard charging Moreno Soeprapto who managed to close the gap between him and Joson to seven-tenths of a second made a miscalculation and late braked into Joson at the double-apex on the last lap sending them both out to the muddy grass.
It was clearly an unlucky day for Roland Hermoso who had to start from the pits as his car was push started, he latered retired after seven laps due to a loose wheel. Mark Goddard did not have a lucky day either after he broke second gear at the warm up lap and decided to have an early retirement from the race.
After a dramatic start, the race order ended with Ananda Mikola taking the checkered flag followed by Tyson Sy in second, plus the Promotions Class win, and Pepon Marave in third. Dado Peña earned a well deserved fourth and second place in the Promotions Class, starting from last place. Oliver Turvey followed half a second behind Peña in fifth ahead of Enzo Pastor in sixth. Kenkou Miura rounded up the finishers in seventh. Managing to finish 3/4 of the race, Richard Joson was classified in eighth, Moreno Soeprapto in ninth and Don Pastor tenth.