BIRA, THAILAND - Mike Potenciano of the Zed San Miguel MP Turbo Team Philippines accomplished what no Filipino had ever done before when he bagged first place in the 7th round of the Asian Formula 2000 series held here last Sunday. The 40 year old veteran was simply overjoyed as he mimicked his namesake and F1 idol's signature victory jump at the podium during the prize giving rites amidst the cheers of the approving crowd.
"I am very happy because this is my first ever victory in the series and since it took place here in Bira, this place will forever be special for me. I felt like a rookie on his first win when I stood on top of the AF2 podium for the first time," said Potenciano who squeezed out the best from his brand new engine for the weekend.
His victory complemented a 2nd place finish in round 8 to cap a near-perfect weekend which began with his clinching the pole position for the two rounds during the time trials.
Potenciano' s driving mettle was put to test by current series leader Meckel Ali who tailgated him for eight laps. The latter however lost his handle on second place after a driving error at the last chicane which sent him off the track and allowed Singaporean contender Dennis Lian to takeover the slot.
The San Pablo City native immediately took time to credit the forces behind his success. "Foremost this victory is for God, for all the Filipinos, for my family and friends who have supported me through the years, and for my sponsors Zed, the world's leading mobile services provider and San Miguel Beer, one of the world's best beers, Gulf Oil, the lubricant specialist, the Sonenscher Motor Racing Team, BLTB Co. and MP Turbo" he said.
The AF2000 series is the most cost-effective single-seater racecar tournament available for budding race drivers on a budget. The series has been instrumental in producing world class drivers from the Asian region in recent years. Past AF2000 champions who have gone on to engage in bigger endeavors are F1 test driver Narain Karthikeyan of India, Indonesian Formula 3000 campaigner Ananda Mikola and the first ever F1 driver from the ASEAN region, Malaysian Alex Yoong of the Minardi Racing Team.
RACE RESULTS (Round 7) Pos Name Nat Time 1. Mike Potenciano PN 21:26.730 2. Dennis Lian SIN 21:29.515 3. Zarith Alfian Zainal MAL 21:30.702 4. Tohru Jitsukawa JPN 21:35.704 5. Mohd Fahrizal Hassan MAL 22:18.060 6. Faizal Hakimi Jaafar MAL 22:18.585 7. Hideaki Machida JPN 21:56.633 (1 lap down) Did Not Finish Meckel Ali IND
RACE RESULTS (Round 8) Pos Name Nat Time 1. Meckel Ali IND 21:28.718 2. Mike Potenciano PN 21:30.913 3. Dennis Lian SIN 21:38.176 4. Zarith Alfian Zainal MAL 21:40.069 5. Tohru Jitsukawa JPN 21:47.724 6. Mohd Fahrizal Hassan MAL 22:34.917 7. Faizal Hakimi Jaafar MAL 22:35.936 8. Hideaki Machida JPN 21:42.148 (1 lap down)