PETALING JAYA: The second season of the JK Racing Asia Series (formerly Formula BMW Pacific) kicks off at the Sepang Circuit this weekend promising an epic battle between two championship winning teams who have placed their confidence in Malaysian drivers.
Reigning champions Eurointernational are in a head-to-head battle with Meritus.GP.
Both teams are multiple champions, having made their names in various regions in single-seater racing.
Both teams have also put their money on Malaysian drivers to lead them this year, with Nabil Jefri at the wheel for Eurointernational and Afiq Ikhwan returning with Meritus.GP after finishing runner-up last season.
Austrian Lucas Auer won the driver’s championship last year under Eurointernational.
And the Malaysian understands the pressure and the importance of carrying the No. 1 plate on his car for the team, his sponsors and for his country.
“The biggest concern for this season will definitely be the enormous pressure and the public’s expectations. But I am very confident that this will be a good year,” said Nabil.
After missing out on the title last year by just seven points, Afiq is aiming for the driver’s championship this year. He will also be under pressure to help Meritus.GP secure their first team championship win since 2009.
He had an impressive season last year, claiming 15 podium finishes out of 18 races.
Afiq managed a remarkable six straight wins in Indonesia and Singapore before ending the season with another four triumphs.
The 21-year-old Afiq will be the oldest driver – and with the most to prove.
The two drivers will not be alone in trying to help their teams claim the championship win as Nabil will have the capable Irfan Ilyas to support him.
The 17-year-old Irfan came into the series a relative newcomer and surprised everyone when he finished a strong second in all four races in Sepang during the Asian Festival Of Speed in May.
Qualifying takes place today and the series will make its way to Europe for the first time for Rounds 3 and 4 at Paul Ricard in France from June 29-July 1 and Rounds 5 and 6 at Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps from July 27-29.
The series will then return to Asia to complete a total of 16 rounds.