11 races, 6 circuits, and 5 countries. It was an exciting journey for Team NAZA Aylezo throughout the 2017 Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific season and Zen Low did Malaysia proud by collecting a total of 7 podium finishes along the way. But the journey did not end there as the team had one final hurdle to tackle and this one will take the team more than 9,600km from home to the Finali Mondiali in Italy.
Gathering all the Ferrari Challenge racers from around the world, the final round of the 2017 Asia Pacific season took place at the 5.245km Mugello Circuit in Tuscany and needless to say, every single racer on the grid would like to go home with at least a podium finish. The racers, however, were not the only challenge the team faced as racing on an unfamiliar circuit in the chilly European weather was a big test as well.
Being used to racing in Asia, getting heat into the tires was a big obstacle and this meant that Zen was not able to fully push the car to its limits during the Qualifying 1 session. It was also tricky for Zen to find a clear lap in nailing a proper lap time and he was only able to clock a fastest time of 1:54.680, earning Team NAZA Aylezo P9 on the grid for Race 1.
P9 was not the preferable spot to start Race 1 in and Zen also knew that it will be a tough race ahead of him as he will be racing on overused tires with very little life left after Qualifying 1. Nevertheless, that did not stop him from getting a good start and Zen even managed to climb up to P5 during the opening stages of the race.
Unfortunately, we had a small incident while passing another competitor and that had ruined the alignment on our 488 Challenge race car. The overused tires were also starting to lose grip, but Zen managed to keep the car under control and took the chequered flag in P7 overall, P5 in the Trofeo Pirelli category.
It may not be the results we were looking for, but the experience gained on Friday had helped us a lot in pinpointing the mistakes and taking a different approach for the second Qualifying and Race. This time, Zen was able to get a clear path during Qualifying 2 and managed to clock a faster time of 1:54.102 to put Team NAZA Aylezo on P5 to start Race 2 in.
The decision to not overuse the tires during Qualifying was also a brilliant call as Zen was able to perform an amazing getaway during the start, catapulting him from P5 to P3 at Turn 1 during the opening lap. Being the final race of the season, Zen was determined to defend the position to bring home a valuable podium finish from Italy.
This was simply one of Zen’s toughest race as he had to keep his focus on the pursuing rivals at the rear which tried to steal his position for a number of occasions, especially from car #248. But this toughest race also turned out to be one of the most memorable one as after 30 minutes of nail-biting racing, Zen finally crossed the chequered flag to claim the final podium spot for the Trofeo Pirelli category, which at the same time securing his position as the 3rd place overall finisher in the 2017 Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific Championship.
It was a good year for Team NAZA Aylezo and Zen Low in their first season with Ferrari Challenge where the team finished all the race they entered and taking the 3rd place overall in the championship as well.
“I would like to thank everyone who had helped me along this journey, especially Datuk Wira Faisal Nasimuddin, the group executive chairman of Naza World, COO of Naza Italia, Farid Sulaiman, my race crews, Cheah, Ivan, Marco and Matteo, and my support crews back home, Hussein, Liya and Siti. But the most important has got to go to my wife, Mai for the unconditional support throughout the entire season”, said Zen.
Team NAZA Aylezo would like to take this opportunity to extend their greatest appreciation to everyone who had helped in making this journey possible, especially NAZA World, Rudy Project, Ecotint, Lifestyle Chiropractic LLP, Under Armour, TMK Motorsports and Kryptonite Productions.