A tough GT Asia outing was unable to break the spirit of Zen Low, Fairuz Fauzy and the Aylezo crew as they went on to maintain their points collecting streak, this time while competing at Fuji Speedway. It was a wet race weekend that saw the team within reach of a podium finish, twice, before having it taken away by incidents.
Zen and Fairuz, driving for OD Racing, could not set the best of times in wet conditions during the qualifying sessions on Saturday. Fairuz started Round 5 race from ninth, with Zen starting the race for Round 6 from 11th on the grid.
The first race of the weekend started out great with Fairuz being able to avoid the melee on the first lap of the race when a Bentley spun out after bumping into a few cars. He had taken the Lamborghini Gallardo FLII up to fourth and was making consistent time when, just two laps from handing over the car to Zen, another Bentley tapped him from behind causing him to touch the barriers and stalling the car. Fairuz managed to restart but was back down the order as he handed the car to Zen.
Obvious disappointment was written on his face as he said, “it was a good and promising race. We were looking good to finish in P4, I had a good start and a great battle and at one point I was the quickest in the wet with slicks. We went up to P4 but just two laps before we pit in I was shunted by one of the Bentleys, in the back as I was coming out of the last corner at the straight and I touched the wall. Lucky I managed to re-join the race and pitted in soon after for the driver change.
“The engine actually stalled after the incident and we lost about a minute as I tried to restart the engine. It was a shame as we lost so much time when we were looking good to finish in top 4” said Fairuz.
Zen tried to make up for lost time, climbing up to seventh and was within reach of sixth when the race ended. It was not the outcome that they hoped for but by the end of the day, both drivers and the crew were looking forward to make it up with Sunday’s race.
On Sunday, once again the race started out well for the team. Despite starting from 11th, Zen was fired up and quickly made a few positions during his stint. By the end of the second lap, the Sarawakian was up to fifth place and was maintaining a consistent pace before another incident with the Bentley marred their chances of a top five finish once again.
“I started in P11 and once again I had a very good start. After just two laps I found myself in P5 and from then on, I was on a defensive mode and was hoping to maintain that all the way to driver change” said Zen after the race.
“Each lap was a dog fight for me as I could not really find as much grip as I did during the practice session. Then, as I was struggling to keep pace, a Bentley came charging up and nudged me, THREE times. The contact at one point pushed me off the track and broke our rear diffuser, and by the time I pit-in to hand over the car to Fairuz, we were down in P10.
“Fairuz did his best, he managed to overtake 2 cars bringing us up to P8 but we were given a 3-second ‘stop-go’ penalty which dropped us back down the order. Fairuz continued to fight, up to ninth, allowing us to collect vital points but the damage is done” said Zen.
After the race, the team had a discussion with the organisers about the recklessness of the Bentley which cost the team places at both races but a monetary penalty served to the drivers after the race seemed like just a slap on the wrist.
“I am disappointed and very unhappy with the decision of the stewards which marred this FIA Championship. Their decision to give a small fine to the Bentley drivers, which ruined both our races this weekend, seemed inconsequential when points matter so much in this Championship. They have caused accidents and incidences with not just us, but with quite a number of teams at almost every race and yet they were given just a fine. It will not change the points or the results in any way and we feel that it is not a fair outcome” ended Zen with a sigh.
The team hopes that future penalties will be handed out with greater fairness and for repeat offenders to be dealt with more effectively.
Fuji weekend has shown that no matter what the outcome, the drivers and Aylezo crew will just pick themselves up and dust off the negativity while focusing on the next race. The team will now head to their home race at Sepang International Circuit, scheduled to be held on 14-16 August 2015.