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Nandy scores home turf hat-trick at Sepang

by Valentin Khorounzhiy

Photo: Formula Masters China

Malaysian driver Akash Nandy has significantly bolstered his chances of winning the 2013 Formula Masters China title, having taken three race victories in the fifth round of the season at Sepang.

Thai racer Tanart Sathienthirakul had lined up on pole for race one, but endured a slow getaway from the grid, with Afiq Ikhwan and Nandy taking over at the front. Ultimately, the latter snatched away the lead and started pulling away at the front, the race seemingly under his control. A mid-race safety car levelled Nandy’s advantage over his compatriot, but he continued to comfortably lead the race, eventually crossing the line three seconds ahead of Ikhwan.

Championship leader Aidan Wright completed the podium, making the best of the opportunity that arose after the field was bunched up by the safety car. The Australian driver picked off Sathienthirakul for fourth and then secured third with a penultimate lap pass on Ren Nagabuchi. The Japanese driver would end up only fifth, as he would also end up letting the poleman through prior to the checkered flag.

Having set the fastest lap in race one, Nandy started race two from pole position and, despite another tough battle with Ikhwan over the opening laps, ended up converting it into a victory. Ikhwan himself then came under attack from Wright as the duo traded positions twice over the course of the race, with the Malaysian eventually coming out on top and his Meritus teammate settling for third. Matthew Solomon and Raj Bharath completed the top five.

Sathienthirakul would again line up in first for race three, but another bad start saw him lose the lead to Nandy into turn one. The Malaysian subsequently continued unopposed on his way to the third win of the weekend, as the only man to match his pace – poleman Sathienthirakul – spun out of the race while chasing after the lead car.

Nagabuchi and Solomon completed the podium, with Wright taking fourth and increasing his championship lead over Ikhwan, who retired from the race with a technical problem. Bharath rounded out the top five.

In the standings, Wright now leads Ikhwan by ten points, with Nandy a further 11 behind and an overall 108 points available over the final two rounds.

Championship standings
Pos. Driver Team Pts.
1 Aidan Wright Meritus GP 178
2 Afiq Ikhwan Meritus GP 168
3 Akash Nandy Cebu Pacific Air/KCMG 157
4 Raj Bharath Meco Motorsport 118
5 Ren Nagabuchi Super License 109
6 Matthew Solomon Eurasia Motorsport 98
7 Tanart Sathienthirakul Eurasia Motorsport 69
8 Pu Jun Jin Eurasia Motorsport 38
9 Yuan Bo Star Racing Team 29
10 Ronald Wu Cebu Pacific Air/KCMG 28
11 Bao Jin Long Star Racing Team 19
12 Yin Hai Tao Super License 18
13 Andersen Martono Meritus GP 6
14 Zou Si Rui Star Racing Team 6
15 Zou Chen Yu Star Racing Team 4
16 Zhang Zhen Dong Zhang Zhen Dong 2
17 Andrea Reggiani Andrea Reggiani 1
18 Lin Li Feng Lin Li Feng 1
19 Wu Zhou Super License 0