Aston Martin Asia Cup kicks off the Singapore GP in style
Sasaki Takes A Hard Fought Victory As Chong Joins Him On The Podium To Make Singaporean Motorsport History. The Aston Martin Asia Cup revelled in the opportunity to kick start a historic day in motorsport when it took to the track as the opening support race for the 2008 Singtel Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.
The previous day saw Japan's Kota Sasaki take pole position just ahead of Britain's Danny Watts. Third on the grid was AMAC's guest driver, former German F1 driver Christian Danner with Singapore's own Ringo Chong in fourth. Indeed, the home crowd had five local drivers to cheer on in the 10 lap race which was to be full of action and incident. The challenges of the new track were ably met by the Aston Martin Asia Cup team along with their tyre partners Michelin who once more provided exceptional support.
With the threatened thunder showers staying away from the Marina Bay circuit, the race got on the way at 3.30pm local time and saw Watts make an inspired start to take the lead with pole man Sasaki slotting closely into second place. Followed by Danner and Chong the leading pack remained tight over this exciting new track.
On Lap 3 Watts clipped a kerb, launching him into the wall and sadly ending his race, thankfully unscathed. With Sasaki picking up the lead it wasn't to be an easy race for the Team Reckless driver, who came into the event 5 points behind Championship leader Dilantha Malagamuwa, as Danner used his extensive experience to push him all the way.
Elsewhere in the field there were battles aplenty but with David Lai hitting the wall and left stranded in the track on Lap 6 it was time for the one safety car period of the race which closed the field up. When the race went green again there was to be more action with Kuo Tong Hsieh (Taiwan) making contact with the back of Mel Choo's car. Hsieh was airborne with a wheel ripped from the car and making its own way down the slip road! Singaporean Choo, much to the relief of the local spectators, was able to continue.
Out front despite his best efforts Danner could not pass Kota Sasaki who took an ecstatic and historic win in front of an appreciative audience. Taking third an equally thrilled Ringo Chong made motorsport history as the first Singaporean driver to finish on the podium at the Singapore GP event and indeed, the only Singaporean driver to have such an honour over the weekend. There was further cause for local celebration with Mel Choo finishing in fifth and young up and coming Singaporean driver Hafiz Koh taking a strong sixth.
In terms of the Championship, Malagamuwa's fourth place finish has allowed him to stay at the top of the Championship table but now just 1 point ahead of Kota Sasaki.
Series Director Ian Geekie praised the new circuit and event. "It has been a superb event" said Geekie. "What better place to drive an Aston Martin, famed for its beauty, style and performance, than in this marvellous and electrifying setting? It has challenged the drivers who have thoroughly enjoyed the event and entertained the crowds on the start of this very special day for motorsport. We are also thrilled that we have been able to provide the local spectators with plenty to shout about!
"My thanks extend to the Singapore GP organisers, our Aston Martin Asia Cup team, Michelin, Dura, Powerbuilt and Racing Logistics International all of whom have worked hard to ensure this has been a memorial moment in our inaugural Championship year."
The next round of the Aston Martin Asia Cup has the honour once more of being a support race for FIA Formula One World Championship when it visits Shanghai on 17th-19th October for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Aston Martin Asia Cup – Round 7, Singapore Result
1 Kota Sasaki (Japan) 2 Christian Danner (Germany) 3 Ringo Chong (Singapore) 4 Dilantha Malagamuwa (Sri Lanka) 5 Mel Choo (Singapore) 6 Hafiz Koh (Singapore)