After more than halfway through the season, the Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific finally touches down at Team NAZA Aylezo’s home ground of Sepang International Circuit for the fifth round of the 2017 racing calendar. Needless to say, the team was both excited and nervous as they will be going against the finest racers in the region at their home turf and in front of a home crowd.
While Zen Low could already call the 5.543km circuit his second home, he has yet to drive the 488 Challenge race car on it and it will undoubtedly be a new experience for him. Both the Open and Free Practice sessions provided valuable feedback to the team so that they could dial in the car properly for Zen to make the best out of the 670HP race car.
Fine-tuning a car to suit the driver and circuit was not an easy task as Zen was still experiencing understeer during the practice sessions. Couple that with the unpredictable Sepang weather which had soaked up the circuit just before Qualifying 1, things were getting trickier for the team as the circuit was drying up but was still receiving light drizzles on certain areas.
Armed with a set of slicks, Zen went out for the attack and unfortunately the track was still too greasy for Zen to nail down a speedy lap and had no choice but to dive back into the pits for a tire change from slicks to wet tires. With a very small window of 15 minutes for qualifying, the tire change had costed the team a lot of time and left Zen just enough room to make one flying lap. Using this window of opportunity, he had managed to clock a 2:24.425, earning Team NAZA Aylezo P4 to start Race 1 in.
Starting from P4 meant that the team had to do something to ensure that the podium will at least be represented by a Malaysian for this round. Showing that he meant business, Zen stunned the crowd with his instant reflexes by performing a rocket start the second the lights turn green and even managed to overtake two rivals before Turn 2 on the first lap. As the tire pressure was building up, Zen was getting more confident in handling the car to its limits. However, a minor mistake at T15 where Zen had missed the braking point by 5 meters had costed him the second place as Angelo in P3 was trailing closely and grabbed the opportunity to get into the inside line.
As the race pace settles down, it was becoming more difficult for Zen to regain P2 as his race pace was pretty much similar to Angelo’s and there was no way to pass him unless he made a mistake. With the one in P4 running quite far behind, Zen maintained his pace to bring home a P3 for Team NAZA Aylezo in front of the home crowd.
Qualifying 2 and Race 2 however resulted in outcomes that the team was not looking for. The track conditions did not favor the car setup and had caused the team to struggle during qualifying and race. A sudden drive-through penalty slapped onto the team had also made things tougher. Finishing 6th in class was definitely a disappointment but the team is already looking forward for the next round which will be held at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore.
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, FXPrimus, Rudy Project, Ecotint, Lifestyle Chiropractic LLP, Under Armour, TMK Motorsports and Kryptonite Productions.