It’s not uncommon to have several events happening on the same day at the Sepang International Circuit; the world-renowned track is home to a steady stream of visitors, new and returning alike – from every country and continent. No surprise then, that Sunday also saw the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia 2016 series, which we also managed to cover.
The Sepang race marked the fourth round of the one-make racing series from Lamborghini, organized by their Squadra Corse division. As the name implies, the Squadra Corse is the motorsports arm of Lamborghini, the same division that also manages the GT Customer Racing series and Lamborghini Accademia, alongside the Super Trofeo series.
As mentioned above, the Super Trofeo is a one-make racing series; and the supercar featured is no other than the Huracan Super Trofeo, a special derivative of the Huracan purpose-built for the spec-series event. Adopting the V10 naturally aspirated direct injection engine, it delivers up to a maximum output of 620 horsepower – the same engine mounted onto the on-going road production model.
The similarities end there though; the chassis frame is modified to accomodate a larger radiator and to better accomodate the sequential racing gearbox, with engine management handled by MoTeC’s M1 ECU. With the interior completely stripped out along with a roll cage installed from the factory, this racing edition of the Huracan is 136 kilograms lighter than the version you’ll get from the showroom.
Racing in the championship is divided into three separate podiums, with each of them recognizing a different range of talents. After every race, there is a podium for the top three finalists in the Overall and Pro-AM, AM and Lamborghini Cup classes. These classes represent different driver skill levels, with the Pro-AM featuring the best of the best and the Lamborghini Cup representing new aspiring drivers. With this, the championship provides an exciting experience for the seasoned and rookies alike.
The 2016 Asia series features 12 rounds spread over six race weekends, all held at iconic circuits. The first five events showcase some of the best tracks all over Asia, where the sixth event and the final will be held at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. The winner of the Super Trofeo Asia series will converge with the other winners from the Europe and North America series in the world finals to prove themselves worthy of claiming the global podium.
At the end of Round 3 held at Chang International Circuit in Thailand, local representative and Lamborghini Young Driver Program graduate Afiq Yazid with his Japanese teammate, Toshiyuki Ochiai led the series with a healthy margin of 17 points, making the duo a favorite for the championship. Yazid is no stranger to his home circuit; with the events that unravelled during last year’s Super Trofeo race held at the KL City Grand Prix, it’s no secret that Yazid is certainly looking out for revenge.
With the first race scheduled to start at 9.54 AM, the heat was on with the pit garages alive as team members checked off inspection lists, while others offered words of encouragement to the drivers, who were about to give it their all in the 50 minute sprint race. Yazid and Ochiai had a bit of a struggle during qualifying rounds, which resulted in them being placed third on the grid, with Zen Low and Max Wiser up in second and Dilantha Malagamuwa and Armaan Ebrahim on pole..
Leading the AM class was Vincent Wong from Hong Kong and Korean teammate Sanghwi Yoon on the grid, followed by Andrew Haryanto from Indonesia and Keong Wee Lim from Singapore, and finally George Chou from Taiwan and Samson Chan from Hong Kong for the starting four. For the Lamborghini Cup class, Sam Lok from Hong Kong placed ahead of Supachai Weeraborwornpong from Thailand.
None could have expected the outcome which was about to unravel that very day. Round 4 was off to a very hot start for the Malaysian-Japanese pair as they considerably pulled ahead to snatch pole position away from Malagamuwa and Ebrahim, leaving them in second place. Yudai Uchida from Japan and fellow teammate Jono Lester from New Zealand which started tenth on the grid climbed all the way to third position, much to the amazement of the crowd.
Haryanto exhibited exceptional skill and made his way up to the top of his class, while Chou and Chan picked up the pace to claim second position, sending Wong and Yoon into third. Weeraborwornpong, in similar vein as Haryanto, managed to move past Lok for first place in the Lamborghini Cup class.
The results from Race 2’s qualifying placed Yazid and Ochiai up first on the grid for the second round with Malagamuwa and Ebrahim in second, with Haryanto in third. In fourth was Lim, followed by Chou and Chan. Uchida and Lester were placed sixth, Low and Wiser at seventh, and Wong and Yoon at eighth.
Taking a break between races, Won was one of the lucky few who were selected for a hot-lap around Sepang in a Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2. More about that in a later post.
After the hot lap session, the Super Trofeo series in Malaysia finally came to a climax with Race 2 beginning at 3.45 PM, with teams behind pole scrambling for position. The Japanese-New Zealander duo put on an aggressive stance to climb the ladders and challenged Malagamuwa and Ebrahim in second place, which fell victim to the intense pressure inflicted to fall back to third. In a similar rags to riches fashion, Low and Wiser pulled off a similar stunt to success but eventually gave in to Malagamuwa and Ebrahim’s defence, placing them fourth.
Race 2’s nail-biting action was far from over. Wong and Yoon, despite a poor position at the starting grid displayed their true colors, overtaking each and every one of their opponents in their class. It was with remarkable driving ability which the pair managed to get past Haryanto, the favorite of the AM series to claim the top spot for the AM class podium. Haryanto unfortunately did not finish due to an unforced error, which Lim capitalized to take second, and with Chou and Chan in third.
Lok of the Lamborghini Cup class exacted revenge on Weerabornpong for Race 1, claiming victory for himself for Race 2. On the other hand, it was all smooth sailing for Yazid and Ochiai, which maintained the lead from start till end of the race.
With both races done for the day, we went over to Lamborghini’s hospitality lounge for some light refreshments, before heading for their press conference and Q&A session with Giorgio Sanna, Head of Lamborghini Motorsport and Cristiano Inverni, Coordinator of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia series.
When asked about the Sepang circuit and its challenges, Sanna commented on the endurance and tolerance which every driver must possess. “The temperatures are very demanding for the driver in Sepang as temperatures inside the car can reach 60 degrees, which you will need to be well prepared,” he states.
“Sepang is wonderful as it’s a new concept made for Formula 1 as it has corners which utilizes a lot of aerodynamics. The Huracan Super Trofeo has fantasic aerodynamics, similar to Formula cars which you can have different racing lines, and doing things not possible with a touring car,” he further added.
In reply to a question where if there were any notable differences between drivers from Asia and from other regions, Sanna remarked that Asian drivers in general receive far less exposure compared to their counterparts due to a lesser amount of opportunities present in Asia. He also notes there is a growing trend of Asians coming to Europe or North America to begin their racing careers which their experience allows them to compete fairly with the locals there.
Inverni chimed in on the matter. “The complexity of Asia as well, is a limitation to driver development which drivers in Europe and North America, where distances and geographic patterns allow drivers to have many testing sessions and they can participate in various classes and championships. In Asia, going across different countries with shipping times and logistics makes it difficult for drivers to have activities between races, which results in less driving time and experience.”
Afiq Yazid joined the press conference shortly after, which the media had many questions for the winner of the Malaysian leg of the Super Trofeo. When asked about the race, he was certainly pleased with the development and its outcome.
“The race was really good. We had a great weekend since first practice and we managed to find our pace. My partner is doing a great job too – although in Qualifying Round 1 we had a little trouble with the car’s setup but we still managed to take third position at the grid,” the 25 year old said. “We managed a double win – it has been a very good weekend.”
Reflecting on his experience with the Super Trofeo Cup, Yazid observed that he was learning a lot, especially on the Huracan Super Trofeo as a GT3 platform where the setup can significantly affect his performance, and learning to tweak it to his advantage. He certainly hopes to be better from where he is today, and we can certainly agree.
Below are the official results for Races 1 and 2:
And that’s a wrap for Round 4 for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia Series in Malaysia, with the next race set at Fuji Speedway in Japan on 17th and 18th September. Until the next race, do take some time to relive the moment via our pictures below! Some images are courtesy of Lamborghini.