DOUBLE JOY FOR MALAGAMUWA IN ASTON MARTIN ASIA CUP’S SHANGHAI OPENER
The Aston Martin Asia Cup (AMAC) roared into life at the weekend staging its opening rounds at the Shanghai International Circuit, China. The weekend’s two races proved dramatic and action packed much to the excitement of the large crowd who saw Sri Lanka’s Dilantha Malagamuwa take a double victory.
Qualifying augured well for a close race with less than one second covering the top six drivers. Japanese Team reckless driver, Kota Sasaki stormed to pole position with a 1m58.223 around the 4.6km circuit. Hot on his trail Mel Choo (Singapore) took second on the grid with Dilantha Malagamuwa in third. The first of the Australian drivers, Team DTM’s Mark Williamson was in fourth position just ahead of Singaporean Ringo Chong.
Peter Boylan (Australia) was forced to sit out qualifying with a mechanical gremlin but a tremendous overnight effort by the AMAC technical crew ensured he would be on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Race day saw hot and humid conditions as the pack of thundering V8 N24’s crossed the start line to mark the start of the world’s first Aston Martin one-make series .
Sasaki controlled the rolling start superbly and led the into the first corner from Choo and Williamson who had both made excellent starts. Further into the pack it was a jostle for position which sadly saw Boylan’s bad luck continue as he and George Ong made contact forcing both to retire.
Whilst Sasaki looked in control of the field in the lead, disaster was to strike when he picked up a puncture. This let Choo take the lead with Malagamuwa and Chong in hot pursuit, with Mark Eddy (Australia) joining the chase whilst his fellow countryman Williamson dropped down the order after spinning at the hairpin after tangling with Tunku Hammam (Malaysia).
Malagamuwa made a flawless move on Choo to take the lead with Chong following into second place. A deflating front left tyre saw Choo slow and the ever threatening Eddy taking the final step of the podium.
A delighted Malagamuwa took a well deserved and historic win but there was little time for celebration with just a few hours to prepare for Race Two.
With the grid positions decided by Race One, the top three of Malagamuwa, Chong and Eddy were keen to get to the podium again and provided a lights to flag display for a repeat result from Race One. But whilst the top three positions were static is was far from a stagnant race behind.
Sasaki scythed through the field from the back of the pack making some breathtaking overtaking moves on the way. Going around the outside of Williamson into Turn 1, Sasaki spun gracefully, amazingly making no contact with Williamson, and able to rejoin! The battle between Choo, Hammam, Williamson and Sasaki for 4th position had the crowd on their feet. Sasaki was to take the 4th place after a tussle which left many of the crowd hoarse after their wild cheering.
A wonderful start to the season sees Dilantha Malagamuwa in the Championship lead after his clean sweep at Shanghai but the rest of the field have proved with their competitiveness that the fight for the title will be close.
The weekend’s double header event was part of the C1 Celebrity Race Weekend which raises funds and awareness for the One Foundation Charity (www.one-foundation.com). In light of the recent tragedy in the Sichuan Province, The One Foundation are currently channelling their efforts into relief for those stricken by the earthquake and the AMAC organisers and all the drivers were only to pleased to offer their support, making a generous donation to this important cause.
The next round of the Aston Martin Asia Cup will take place on 20-22 June on the Sepang F1 circuit, Malaysia.
Aston Martin Asia Cup, 25th May 2008 Shanghai Results
Round 11 Dilantha Malagamuwa (Sri Lanka)2 Ringo Chong (Singapore)3 Mark Eddy (Australia)
Round 21 Dilantha Malagamuwa (Sri Lanka)2 Ringo Chong (Singapore)3 Mark Eddy (Australia)