It was a good clean race right from the start on the drying Bira Circuit where returning Asian Touring Car Series 2007 Champion (Division 2) Masaki Kano, took his first pole to flag win this year. The Japanese driver took a year-long break from racing to concentrate on work and was immediately on form to claim the win for Liqui Moly Team Engstler in the absence of Jack Lemvard. Kano crossed the line in 23:26.581 to claim first 25.879 seconds ahead of Thai’s touring car driver Kajohnsak Na Songkla and Hong Kong driver Danny Stacy Chau.
“Just before the race there was rain which caused a little bit of a headache as we had to decide whether to run on wet or dry tyres. In the end, we decided to go ahead on slicks. In the first four laps, it was still quite wet but after that the circuit dried out a little more which allowed me to make full use of the slicks. After that it was quite easy to drive” said Kano during the post race press conference.
“I’m happy to be back in the Asian Touring Car Series. Last year when we did the series, we did not visit Bira so it was a new experience for me. Being able to claim the win made me really happy. I have to thank my team, the engineers and the mechanics for a great job” he added.
It was a good clean start as all drivers were weary of the still wet track from a heavy shower an hour before the race started. Kano, with the more powerful BMW immediately pulled away from the pack leaving Danny Chau to fend off the charges of Malaysian Eric Yeo and Kajohnsak.
Danny Chau then pulled a little bit of a gap when Yeo and Kajohnsak battled for third for seven laps changing positions twice before the Thai driver managed to get pass Yeo again at the last turn of lap 8. From there Yeo started to suffer from a slipping clutch and maintained his pace until the end of the race to gain the best result possible to collect vital Championship points.
Kajohnsak then quickly picked up his pace to chase Danny Chau and was beginning to put pressure on the Team IMSP driver. On lap 18, Kajohnsak who was then right on Danny Chau’s tail, saw an opportunity at the first chicane and carried enough speed to take the inside lines to overtake Danny Chau. He held on to second place all the way to the chequered flag.
Kajohnsak says “I had a good start. I managed to get past Eric Yeo and was behind Danny for half of the race. Danny was driving really well and I only managed to get a chance at the second last lap at the first chicane. I carried a little bit more speed on the exit than Danny and I was lucky that he opened up a little gap where I could get through. I would like to thank Danny for a great race today and I had a really nice battle with him”.
“It was a bit of a gentlemen driving. Kajohnsak is faster and has better knowledge of the circuit and he is much younger, so I had to give a gap for him to get past me” said Danny Chau with a laugh.
“It was slightly slippery on the first three laps so everyone was cautious, but by the fourth lap, everyone was driving full force, as can be seen on the lap times”.
Yeo finished the race in fourth, ahead of Danny Chau’s teammate, Man Ting Yu and fellow Malaysian Adrian Henry D’Silva. Thai driver Akekaluk Ditjareoan finished seventh ahead of Frank Yee, Lai Kit Meng and Lei Chong Seng.
Malaysian driver Harry Chai, who had troubles from the start with his gearbox, was not classified while Ao Chi Hong only completed 11 laps before retiring in his pit.
The Asian Touring Car Series continues on Sunday, 7th September with Rounds 11 & 12 at Bira Circuit.