Content originally posted on blackartsracing.com.
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SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT- Last weekend (5-7 Apr 2019) saw the opening round of the 2019 Asian F3 Certified by FIA series, with a highly competitive grid taking part in Round One’s three races at the famous former F1 Sepang International Circuit.
BlackArts Racing featured three entries: Thomas Luedi of Switzerland, Tom Beckhäuser of the Czech Republic, and Brendon Leitch of New Zealand piloting the Oloi Powered by BAR car.
After strong results and improvements from all three drivers during the week’s practice sessions, a dramatic qualifying session was held late Friday afternoon. In Q1, conditions held dry and Leitch took 6th, Beckhäuser 13th, and Luedi 14th as fastest of the Masters grid. However, during the 5 minute break before the start of Q2, drizzle began and by the second timed lap of qualifying, strong rain had begun causing a chaotic session. Tom Beckhäuser placed 7th, Brendon Leitch 9th, while Thomas Luedi had a tire issue and placed in the last row for Race Three as the result of Q2.
Race One was held Saturday morning with the return of dry weather. During the half hour event, Brendon Leitch had a great drive, finishing just off the podium in 4th in the Oloi Powered by BAR car. Meanwhile, Thomas Luedi was leading the Masters and ready to take to the top of the podium until being hit by a competitor, causing him to DNF. Tom Beckhäuser unfortunately had to pit in with a technical issue.
Race Two took place Saturday afternoon in the famous midday heat of Sepang, with Brendon Leitch being able to start in 4th in the Oloi Powered by BAR car due to his Race One results. Letich had a consistently fast drive and wound up taking to the podium with 3rd place, finishing less than two tenths off P2. Thomas Luedi had a strong race and was heading to the Masters Podium before a DNF from a technical issue, while Tom Beckhäuser charged up the grid from 16th to 10th to finish in the points.
Race Three was held early Sunday afternoon with continued hot and dry conditions, and extended the race excitement of the previous day: Thomas Luedi was on his way to the Masters win when a competitor hit him under braking and they both spun. Managing to continue, Luedi took to the podium for 2nd in the Masters, after driving up to 1 second a lap faster than the eventual Master Class winner. Meanwhile, Brendon Leitch in the Oloi Powered by BAR car stormed up the field from starting in P9, taking competitors down one by one under dramatic live streaming coverage, until finishing just 0.49 sec behind P3 at the finish line; Tom Beckhäuser had a challenging first lap with many battles, but came back up the field to finish in the top 10 and score points once again.
BAR is currently 3rd in the Driver Points in the Asian F3 Certified by FIA 2019 Season via Brendon Leitch in the Oloi Powered by BAR car, while Thomas Luedi is 4th in the Masters Classification. BlackArts Racing is 4th of the 10 teams in the Asian F3 Championship.
Brendon Leitch: “Thank you so much to Oloi and BAR for a fantastic weekend! The Oloi Powered by BAR car had been prepared very well, and I know everyone put in a lot of hard work – there is no ‘I’ in team! We had some strong results, and I want to thank everyone for an unforgettable weekend.”
Thomas Luedi: “We didn’t quite know what to expect when arriving in Sepang on Tuesday morning, as I hadn’t participated in the Winter Series nor done any Winter Testing. Surprisingly, the pace was there quickly, and the car felt great to drive. All in all it was a positive weekend, better than expected and certainly having the pace – now I just need to further develop my race craft to achieve category wins. Thank you to BlackArts Racing powered by Oloi for giving us a great car all weekend.”
Tom Beckhäuser: “The week started off very well for me with some top results in paid practice earlier in the week – thing is, we got hit with some technical issues in a car that is still somewhat under development by Tatuus, as it becomes the new worldwide FIA standard for F3. This meant that I didn’t get much seat time before Friday’s qualifying, and even in Race One I had a technical issue. But, I was able to make it into the points for Race Two and Race Three – I am sure we will be going much higher up from here.”
Round 2 will be held in Buriram, Thailand on 11th-12th May at the Chang International Circuit, before heading to the world famous Suzuka International F1 Circuit. The final two rounds will then be held in China, at the challenging Shanghai F1 Circuit.
F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA 2019 :
Rnd 1 – April 6-7 Sepang International F1 Circuit
Rnd 2 – May 11-12 Buriram International Circuit
Rnd 3 – June 22-23 Suzuka International F1 Circuit
Rnd 4 – Sept 7-8 Shanghai International F1 Circuit
Rnd 5 – Sept 27-28 Shanghai International F1 Circuit