HitechGP’s Rinus van Kalmthout and Absolute Racing’s Yi Yifei had wins to their name in the opening round of FIA Asian F3 Winter Series at Buriram.
The Race 1 on Saturday had Red Bull junior and HitechGP’s Dan Ticktum on pole but the British driver lost out in the opening lap as front-row starter Yifei took the lead from HitechGP’s Alessandero Ghiretti.
Ticktum slotted in third from van Kalmthout but not for long as the British driver then lost places to van Kalmthout and Pinnacle Motorsport’s Akash Nandy to drop to fifth while battling with second placed Ghiretti.
It soon became a four-car squabble with van Kalmthout taking the lead from Ghiretti with Ticktum in third as Yifei dropped to fourth. Both Ticktum and Yifei were forcedto retire as van Kalmthout took the win from Ghiretti and Pavan Ravishankar in a HitechGP’s 1-2-3.
The latter making his way up from last on the grid after stalling on the formation lap. Nandy was fourth with Absolute Racing’s Eshan Pieris in fifth ahead of the two Pinnacle Motorsport cars of Amaury Cordeel and David Schumacher – son of Ralf.
BlackArts Racing’s Vivien Keszthelyi and B-Max Racing Team’s Tairoku Yamaguchi rounded out the nine finishers with four retirements and as many as six drivers handed time penalties for various offences.
The Race 2 on Sunday had pole-sitter van Kalmthout and front-row starter Ticktum go head-to-head for the lead with the Dutchman keeping his nose ahead despite some charges from the British driver with Yifei in third from Ravishankar.
Van Kalmthout had the lead secured as Ticktum fell into the clutches of Yifei and eventually lost the place to the Chinese driver as Schumacher got ahead of Ravishankar for fourth with Ghiretti dropping to sixth.
It ended up being two in two for van Kalmthout with Yifei in second and Ticktum third. However, a time penalty meant, Ticktum dropped to sixth which promoted Schumacher to third, Ravishankar fourth and Ghiretti in fifth.
Super License’s Tomoki Takashi got seventh after penalty to Cordeel meant, he dropped to ninth behind Nandy with Yamaguchi and Keszthelyi in 10th and 11th respectively. The Race 3 had Yifei take the lead with pole-sitter Ticktum dropping to second already.
Ghiretti’s retirement brought out the safety car but Yifei maintained his lead from Ticktum with van Kalmthout in third as Takashi made his way to fourth from Schumacher and Ravishankar in a pretty clean race.
In fact, Yifei stood his ground to take the win from Ticktum and van Kalmthout with Schumacher ending up fourth but a penalty dropped him to fifth, promoting Cordeel to fourth with Takashi ending up sixth.
The Japanese was also promoted up after Nandy had a penalty which dropped him to seventh just ahead of Ravishankar as Keszthelyi and Yamaguchi completed the Top 10 and the 10 finishers in the race.
With the three races in the bag, van Kalmthout heads the points standings with 65 to his name from Yifei (43) and Ravishankar (31) while Schumacher (31) sits in fourth – having same points as Ravishankar – and Ticktum (26) is only sixth.