Motorsports

Published on May 2nd, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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MALAYSIAN DRIVERS In GP2 AND GP3 F1 Sepang

The 18th edition of the 2016 Formula1 Malaysia Grand Prix will have an added excitement for Malaysians, as two of its native sons will be part of the showpiece. Young Malaysian drivers, Akash Neil Nandy and Nabil Jeffri will be participating in the GP3 and GP2 respectively. This is in line with the Formula One Management (FOM) decision to include the prestigious GP2 and GP3, simultaneously with the F1 race in Malaysia.

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Akash and Nabil were introduced as the drivers representing Malaysia in their respective teams, Jenzer Motorsports and Arden International, and competing in the prestigious GP3 and GP2 series respectively. Their entry in these series will see them through a full season in 2016, including the Malaysian F1 at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) on 2 October 2016. The event was officiated last week by the Minister of Youth & Sports, Yang Berhormat Encik Khairy Jamaluddin with Y.Bhg. Dato’ Razlan Razali respectively.

Dato’ Razlan Razali, SIC Chief Executive Officer expressed his delight of having not one but two Malaysian drivers in both the GP2 and GP3 series. “Having Malaysian drivers competing during the 2016 Formula1 Malaysia Grand Prix in Sepang is undoubtedly something that the local fans have been yearning for. Both GP2 and GP3 are race development series for drivers aspiring to become a coveted F1 driver,” he said. Ardent fans of F1 in Malaysia will now be able to follow not just the F1 but also the GP2 and GP3 through the 2016 race calendar that will take our Malaysian boys through a thrilling season.

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Nabil Jeffri, 22, who will be driving for British team Arden International, also began his racing career at Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia back in 2008, where he came in 3rd. He continued racing in JK Racing Asia Series in 2012 and at ATS formal 3 Cup in 2014, both of which he finished 2nd overall.

In 2010, Nabil, was the youngest ever driver to test a Formula One car.  At 16, Nabil conducted straight-line aerodynamic duties for the Malaysian-owned Lotus team at the Imperial War Museum runway at Duxford (UK).

Following a successful testing programme in Barcelona and Jerez last month, Arden International confirmed that Nabil Jeffri and Jimmy Eriksson have signed for the 2016 Season.

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Nabil moves from Germany and European F3 where he has spent the last few years honing his skills and experience around the European tracks. The Malaysian is also no stranger to the Sepang International Circuit, where GP2 Series will be racing later this year alongside Formula One.

“This has been my lifelong dream and I am living it out in front of my fellow Malaysians that is an adrenalin rush like no other.  The Sepang Circuit is one many drivers find challenging, so I hope my experience on this track will help my performance, and I will do Malaysia proud.  I hope Malaysians will come out to the circuit on race weekend and support both Akash and myself,” says Nabil.

At 19, Akash Neil Nandy is a rising Malaysian star in his own right. He was recently awarded the McMillan Woods Rising Star Award 2016, in the Chequered Flag of the Year category.

He began his career in 2010, kart racing at the Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia, finishing a respectable 2nd place.  But his breakout race was when he finished a respectable third place in the overall championship of the Formula Masters China Series in 2013. The wins kept on coming, as he almost won the Formula 3 Remus Championship in Europe, winning 10 out of 12 races.

In 2013, at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix event, Akash also being one of the youngest drivers made motorsport history that same year after grabbing pole position, setting the fastest lap and winning in Formula Masters highly respected season ender.

Akash’s extraordinary talent won him an invitation to participate in the prestigious opening round of Asia Le Mans Series with KC Motorgroup in 2013. Being the youngest to participate in a Le Mans Series, he walked into the history books of the event and Le Mans overall. Having qualified to start the race from P2, Akash steamed the team into P1 closing his stint of the race, having set one of the fastest lap and maintained the position to finalise as race winners. This year, Akash did his team proud by surfacing yet again first overall champion in GTM class on home ground.

He stands amongst the likes of former F1 world champions Artyon Senna and Michael Schumacher who were once overall championship winners. This year for GP3, Akash will be racing for Swiss-based team Jenzer Motorsports. Apart from his dedication and passion for racing, Akash is also a full-time law degree student and is currently coming to completion of his first year.

“I am honoured to be part of our national racing agenda and that my love for racing will be an inspiration for all young Malaysians to strive tirelessly to achieve their dreams and goals. I am always determined to give my very best everytime I am on the track and hope that I will make Malaysia proud in the upcoming race,” quipped Akash.

“It is exciting times for motorsports in Malaysia, as the fruits of our labour are starting to flourish,” said Minister of Youth & Sports, Yang Berhormat Encik Khairy Jamaluddin.  “I am calling out to private sector companies to come forward and look at viability of sponsoring our local drivers,” he urged. “Motorsports in particular is an expensive endeavour but returns for sponsors are exponential,” he said.

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The 2016 Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix takes place from 30th September until the 2nd October 2016, at Sepang International Circuit with GP2 and GP3 being the support race for the event.

For information on this event and ticketing, call the Ticket Hotline at 03-8778 2222 or visit Sepang International Circuit’s website at http://www.sepangcircuit.com/

2016 GP2 SERIES CALENDAR

Round 1 Circuit de Barcelona, Spain                                              13-15 May

Round 2 Circuit de Monaco, Monaco                                              26-28 May

Round 3 Baku City Circuit, Azerbaijan                                           17-19 June

Round 4 Red Bull Ring, Austria                                                         1-3 July

Round 5 Silverstone Circuit, Great Britain                                     8-10 July

Round 6 Hungaroring, Hungary                                                      22-24 July

Round 7 Hockenheimring, Germany                                               29-31 July

Round 8 Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium                       26-28 August

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