Two weeks before the 5th round of the Lamborgini Super Trofeo Series is due to take place in Shanghai, I was approached by Andrew Haryanto (my teammate), who asked if I would like to partner him for the race. The next thing I remember was that I was on the way to the airport ready to take the next flight to Shanghai. Here is a glimpse of what happened throughout the 4-days/3-nights.
Day 1 – Wednesday 14/10/2015
7.00pm: Boarded the plane from KLIA2 to Shanghai.
Day 2 – Thursday 15/10/2015
12.40am: Arrived safely at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
After we have collected our luggage, we took a cab to Jiading Shanghai where our hotel was located. The 2-hour journey turned out to be a 4-hour one as our cab driver did not know where our hotel was at. Communicating with him was a challenge, as none of us spoke Mandarin. To made matters worse, Google is banned (so no Google translate)! Well, we eventually found our hotel and as soon as we were checked in, I rushed to bed as call time was in 2 hours.
6.30am: Was too anxious to have anything to eat for breakfast. This is the first time I will be racing in the Shanghai International Circuit, and the first time ever in a GT car. Never have I driven any mid-engine car before on the track. To add to my anxiety, it was the Lamborghini Huracan powered with a 620 HP engine that I will be racing in!
8.00am: We finally made it to the circuit! Hearing the cold start of the car sent shivers down my spine as it was almost a sure promise that ‘the bull’ is going to be a handful to handle on the track. The boys quickly started work on the car to ensure that it is ready for practice. While the boys got busy, I had my track walk with one of the best engineers in Asia, Mr. Rueben Wong and our team manager, Mr. Alexander Gunawan. We completed the 5.5KM track in 1 hour 10 minutes.
1.45pm: Just 15 minutes before the unofficial practice began, Rueben ran through some of the cars basics with me i.e. how to engage gears, start/stop, and few other functions. When the pit lane opened and I engaged the first gear, I couldn’t believe that this was finally going to happen, until I released the clutch and rolled out to the pit lane.
After a few laps of getting use to the car and having familiarised myself with the track, I started building up speed and was happy to have ended the session with a lap time of 2.09 with used tires from last race which was held in Sentul, Indonesia. After the session, I went through the data with Rueben and we found some areas of improvements for me and the car. No time was wasted; the boys started setting up the car for our official testing the next day.
11.00pm: Arrived back at the hotel. By now everyone was drained so we called it a night.
Day 3 – Friday 16/10/2015
9.00am: Attended the driver’s briefing where Mr. Ravin, the race director for the weekend shared some basic points.
9.30am: After the briefing, I hurried down and got suited up to for our official practice. I went out first with the car to run in a new set of disc. I took 3 laps to run in the disc, with gradual increase in braking pressure. On the 4th lap, I did a flying lap and managed to clock 2.07.2 with some traffic after one of a competitor’s car spun in the middle of turn 8-9. Wasn’t the ideal lap I had hoped for but essentially my role was to check and ensure the balance of the car, which was very well done after the boys spend hours last night setting up the car. Pitted in shortly after and passed on the car to Andrew for him to start practice. Andrew built up the speed slowly and managed to end the session with a lap time of 2.11.8. By now, everything looked promising for the weekend.
8.00pm: Went to a shopping mall nearby our hotel to have dinner and coffee after that to discuss about qualifying and race 1 which will be held tomorrow. Ended the day at 11.30pm.
Day 4 - Saturday 17/10/2015
(I completely lost tracked of time as I was so excited the next 2 days)
It’s qualifying and race day! We were really looking forward for this day. Went to the circuit early and started staring at the car from left to right, top to bottom. Andrew started qualifying first and after 5 laps he pitted in for my turn to take over. We didn’t have an ideal qualifying session as things didn’t go as plan but we remain focused to make sure we had a good race later on.
Andrew started Race 1 in P5, in category. He did a brilliant job on the start of the race to ensure we didn’t make any contact with our competitors. However, after a few laps into the race, Andrew had a minor contact with the P4 car at T5.
Andrew kept his head cool and continued pushing and few laps later, he managed to close up to the car in P3, went in a little too hot at T3 and spun around. Three laps later, he pitted in and passed the car to me to continue the race.
Every car had to complete a compulsory 60 second pit stop. The moment ours was up, I pushed hard to catch up with the front runners. By the 4th lap, I managed to close the gap and was already running right behind the rear of the P3 car. The following lap, I successfully overtook both the P3 and P2 car. Pushing hard again to gun down the P1 car which two laps later, I managed to overtake going into T1. I got the chequered flag few laps later. We won first place! The whole team could not believe that we managed to win P1 in our debut race!
Day 5 – Sunday 18/10/2015
Today marks the last day for our weekend in Shanghai. The memory of finishing Race 1 in P1 is so fresh in our mind that we were all still smiling. The boys went straight to work the moment we arrived at the circuit to ensure we have yet another perfect race later.
Andrew and I got suited up early and we had our photo session with the team, sponsors, and fans. Once completed, I got into the car as I will be starting the race.
I was starting in P1 in my category and it was added pressure on me to ensure that I don’t lose any position during the start of the race.
The moment the light turned green, I kept my right foot really tight to the floor and brake hard for T1. It was a little messy at T3 as the turn is tight and there are six cars entering the turn at the same instant. I managed to stay out of trouble and maintain my position. I kept my head down and continued pushing to ensure open up a good margin from the car behind. The moment I entered the pit lane, I was 22 second ahead of P2. Passed on the car to Andrew and he did a brilliant job to maintain position and received the chequered flag in P1.
The team and everyone else were overjoyed to have such a perfect weekend with a DOUBLE WIN. It was not easy but it was proven possible when you have great people in the team working together towards one common goal.
Thank you my teammate for giving me the chance to drive alongside him, Andrew Haryanto. My all-time favourite race engineer, Rueben Wong. The boys from Tedco Sport, Ben Mah and Mohd Ikhwan. Race Manager, Alexander Gunawan. My sponsors, Richeese, Sakura Racing Filter, Tedco Sport, Superkart Indoor Karting, Lifestyle Motorsorts, Mcclubz, Zerotohundred, and last but not least Azhvra. Thank you for making my dream a reality. To many more races to come!
Photo credits to Mcclubz