Another race, another great finishes from both Sakura-Tedco drivers who had managed to bring home podium spots for both the Touring Production and Malaysia Touring Class categories. But although it was Mark Darwin’s fourth consecutive win for the season, it was not really a walk in the park as he and the team had to fight for it to even see the waving of the chequered flag.
Now racing in TP, Mark encountered some problems with the car that had denied him from getting pole position during qualifying. Having to start the race in P6, Rueben immediately went to work overnight and the FD2R race car was all green for race day.
Starting from P6 was not the main worry for Mark and the team as it was the usual crashes/incidents that involved those in the middle of the pack that worried them as they are eyeing to win the championship. Luckily for Mark he managed to pass almost everyone after the rolling start minus a couple of cars like Ah Lai’s as he did not want to take unnecessary risks.
Maintaining P2 until the third lap, the cars from the back of the pack were catching up to him as he started the race in old tires which were one or two seconds slower than others running on new tires. He then lost a couple of positions and went for a pit stop at around Lap 8 for a fresh set of tires.
After rejoining the race, it was then that he knew he was at P1 as while passing the main straight, he saw Mitch’s and Claire’s car closing in to the pit exit. With the undercut working perfectly, Mark pushed the car and maintained the gap to take home the win for TP.
Fitra Eri also got quite a chore to complete as he also the race in sixth position. Instead of his trusty Satria Neo, he was driving the Preve for this round which will also be the car that Team Sakura-Tedco will be fielding in Sepang 1000KM. Using the race weekend as a shakedown session as well, he would have to work harder as Proton is now fielding three cars with similar pace and they are obviously faster than almost anyone in the field.
The start of the race for this round was pretty clean, with only a minor mishap happening at T3 involving Tung Wei and KK Soh. Fitra had a good battle involving one of the Honda Malaysia cars and Alvaro from R Engineering. Finding the opportunity in Lap 3, he overtook both of them to take fourth position.
Since Honda Malaysia chased him down pretty well in the race, he knew that the team would have to perform a perfect pit stop to give him the edge in this race. Luckily for him, the team is well prepped and got the perfect pit stop he was looking for, giving him the breathing space needed from Honda Malaysia.
Later in the race, one of the Proton R3 cars (Syafiq Ali) had some mechanical issues which allowed Fitra to take third position all the way to the chequered flag.