Afiq off to flying start with new Italian partner


He’s the No. 1: Afiq Ikhwan Yazid (third from left) celebrating with friends and supporters after winning Race 2 of the season-opening Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia Series at the Sepang International Circuit on Monday.

PETALING JAYA: Afiq Ikhwan Yazid is with a different team this season but his aim remains the same – to win a third straight overall Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia Series title.

The 25-year-old Malaysian and Toshiyuki Ochiai, his Japanese partner, won eight out of the 11 races to retain the overall title last year.

And if the results of the first two races at the Sepang International Circuit on Monday are anything to go by, Afiq and new partner Kei Cozzolino of Italy are looking good to fight for the overall crown with Clazzio Racing.

Afiq-Cozzolino secured their first win of the season by winning Race 2. The duo completed the 23-lap race in 50:07.722. They lead the overall standings with 27 points, three ahead of Artur Janosz of Poland and Dutchman Meindert Van Buuren.

Earlier in Race 1 on Sunday, Afiq-Cozzolino were placed third after clocking 52:36.486. They started on pole after Afiq powered to a record 2:03.56 lap time in qualifying.

But during the race, a flaw in the mandatory pit-stop saw Afiq losing the lead and dropping to fifth.

Cozzolino took over and managed to fight his way back to finish third.

The race was won by the New Zealand-Hong Kong combination of Rik Breukers and Nigel Farmer, the 2016 Lamborghini Middle East champions.

Afiq was pleased with the good start although they fell short of a double victory.

“The car showed good pace in qualifying and during the races. Even after I slipped down to fifth (in Race 1), Kei managed to claw his way back. We missed out on second spot by only 0.025 seconds,” said Afiq.

“The next two races will be in Buriram (Thailand from May 20-21). I won both races there last year and I want a repeat performance,” said Afiq, who is a graduate of the Lamborghini Young Drivers Pro­gramme.

The other stops in the series are in Japan’s Suzuka (June 23-25) and Fuji (Aug 18-20) and Shanghai, China (Sept 22-24).

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