A One-day Practice on the AsiaCup Single Seater Car
1 December 2014, Sepang International Circuit
“The AsiaCup is a FiA designated “International” motorsport series, designed to provide a platform to transition from karting to formula motorsport without a huge financial burden on our racers and their families. The drivers will experience professional motor race engineering services from the multi-championship winning Meritus.GP and of course, the Sepang F1 Super Circuit is steeped in F1 heritage.”
“The BMW-powered FB02 that complies with all FiA crash test requirements to the highest possible safety standards, providing equal opportunity for all competitors, ensuring that the ability of the driver is the heart of the competition.”
– extracts from www.meritus.gp
Indeed, with Jon turning 15 in July this year and graduating from karting, junior category at the end of the year, we decided to let him experience a one-day AsiaCup paid practice, on 1 December 2014. Preparations before the practice included buying a new set of nomex socks, inner wear, shoes and gloves. In addition, an FIA approved race helmet with HANS clips is also required. Coincidentally, his dad’s GP5 helmet fit him nicely and also comes equipped with the HANS clips.
Jon arrived at Sepang International Circuit a day earlier on 30 November afternoon to mold the seat according to his body frame and seating position, try out the fire proof suit loaned from the organizer as well as attending a briefing.
There are four practice sessions on 1 December, with each session lasting about 55 minutes. The weather was good and at the start of each session, all the cars were lined up outside the pit, ready for Jon to begin his practice along with 6 other drivers. This will be his first time driving a single seater race car and driving on the Sepang International Circuit. During the first session, Jon ran wide at one of the fast sweeping corner and ended in the gravel. Upon understanding the limits of the car and familiarizing with the track, Jon was able to improve his driving step by step.
He also ended the second session with blisters on his right palm from the continuous hard shifting of the gear lever. Thereafter, the mechanic added paddings to the shifting knob and Jon was able to concentrate and improve on each session.
From the first session till the forth, Jon was able to better his lap times by more than 8 seconds and was just about 2 seconds away from the other experienced drivers participating in the test.
“The experience is totally different from driving a go-kart. Driving the BMW FB02 on the straights can reach up to 190 km per hour compared to the fastest speed of about 120 km per hour on a go-kart. In addition, the straps are really tight, which restricted my movement and makes it hard to make turns on the corners. Nevertheless, it was a great experience that I truly enjoyed it. Now I can understand the difference of driving a race car with suspensions as compared to a race kart”, said Jon.
We are now considering letting Jon try the AsiaCup in 2015, which usually takes place in the middle of the year. Stay tuned!