The distinct roars of Ferrari supercars filled the Sepang International Circuit over the weekend, as they geared up for Round 5 of the Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific 2017. NAZA World formally introduced driver Zen Low as the sole Malaysian participating in the race series. Racing under the team NAZA Aylezo, he is also the first Malaysian to compete at the wheel of the brand new Ferrari 488 Challenge model.
Zen Low got off to a spectacular start in the first round in Abu Dhabi, earning second place in the first race and third in the second race of the competition. He later secured another two podium finishes at the second and third rounds in Shanghai and Zhejiang. For the fifth round in Sepang, Zen managed a podium finish in the first of the two races. Currently, Zen Low ranks third overall in his racing category.
During Zen’s introduction, Datuk Wira SM Faisal Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin, NAZA World Group Executive Chairman, said, “It has been such a thrill to follow Zen Low’s progress in the Ferrari Challenge APAC and we are excited to have the opportunity to watch him live in action right here in Sepang. His wealth of experience and passion has shown him to be a strong and worthy competitor. Not only has he done us proud with his performance so far, he has also earned tremendous support of fellow Malaysians!”
Zen Low is racing for the entire 2017 season and competing in the Trofeo Pirelli category under the race number of 69 and team name NAZA Aylezo. Zen has an established career as one of the most well-known and successful race drivers in Asia. An astute businessman with a passion for racing, he founded Aylezo Motorsport in 2009. Over the years, Zen has taken part in a variety of motorsport events both locally and regionally, including competitions such as the Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race (2009 & 2010), the Gulf 12 Hours 2012, Asian Le Mans Series (2013 & 2016), Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo (2013, 2014 & 2016), GT Asia 2015, Sepang 12 Hours (2015 & 2016) and Bathurst 12 Hours 2017.
For the 2017 season, the Ferrari 488 Challenge makes its debut, taking the place of the Ferrari 458 Challenge. As the first model in this race series equipped with a turbo engine, the Ferrari 488 Challenge is the most powerful car in the history of one-make series. Derived from the 488 GTB, the V8 3.9-litre engine – winner of the International Engine of the Year Award in 2016, delivers a forceful 670hp.
The Ferrari 488 Challenge features enhanced aerodynamics with adjustments made to the front radiator layout and the inclusion of new vents on the bumper for improved air-flow and drag reduction. A complete redesign of the front bonnet and front bumper increased downforce and balanced the rear load to provide a 7% improvement in efficiency compare to the 458 Challenge EVO use previously for this competition. To increase stability at high speeds, the car features a bigger rear wing with an air foil similar to that used on the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship-winning 488 GTE, which increases efficiency by 9% in comparison to its predecessor. The intakes on the rear flanks now take cooling air to the rear brakes, optimizing downforce, while the engine air intakes are now positioned laterally under the rear spoiler to take advantage of the high pressure generated in this area.
The Ferrari Challenge was established as a one-make series in 1993, bringing together complete track novices and drivers with prior competition experience. The series spans three regions: North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. This year, the Ferrari Challenge uses a multi-class format; drivers are grouped under Trofeo Pirelli, Trofeo Pirelli AM, Trofeo Pirelli 458, Coppa Shell, Ladies’ Cup and Gentlemen’s Cup. Events are FIA approved, ensuring an exceptionally high standard of organization and safety for all involved.
The competition kicked off in Abu Dhabi (6-8 April) and travelled to Shanghai (27-29 May), Zhejiang (9 -11 June) and Fuji (7- 9 July) before making its way to Sepang (25-27 August). For the next round, the Ferrari Challenge APAC will make its way to Singapore (15-17 September) and will finally finish off in Mugello (26-29 October) for the Finali Mondiali.