What a mega year it’s been on circuit for myself and the Team Jebsen squad that have been firmly behind me all season. Joining the Jebsen team at the start of the year definitely made me think that this could be our year some nine months ago, and here we are at the end of the season to tell the tale!
The season finale started in fantastic fashion, going quick in both practice sessions and qualifying pole position in Class B, only my second pole of the season.
Just before approaching the final weekend in Shanghai, the thought had occurred to me; what if I didn’t have an engine failure in the Singapore GP? If only I didn’t take a spin in Korea in Round 3 on the last lap. There were a lot of these questions as I have never led into the final round before so I was a little short of title winning experience and credentials.
I had gone into the final two rounds eight points ahead of my closest competitor, meaning that the minimum performance I had to do to secure the 2015 title was by finishing 3rd in both races. This was probably below our average performance throughout the year so I knew it could be possible. With the pole position securing an extra point, this improved my advantage to nine points with all to play for, now meaning I only need a 3rd and a 4th place finish to secure the championship.
Race 1 had arrived as I started on pole, with 2nd to 4th place being filled by the rest of the championship contenders. This was going to the wire. My plan for this start was to stay on the inside line going into Shanghai’s fast right turn 1 off the start, though this strategy backfired miserably. 2nd, 3rd and 4th three corners after the start had passed me on the outside, with Vuitthikorn going wide on the exit of turn 3 on the first lap and myself going further! No problem that’s racing! A well executed start that saw the championship contenders where they needed to be; in front of me. Things were not going well.
During the race, I had an epic battle with Francis Tjia and Wayne Shen. For those who read the column often, you probably hear that one a lot and the championship decider was no different. It was close. I passed Francis on three occasions during the race but unfortunately, I could not make the overtaking move stick, ending up 4th behind the guys that were hunting me down in the championship. I was only doing the minimum so there was no room for error for the final round of the Carrera Cup season. Things were intense.
The final round had come and I was once again starting on pole position. Probably the third race in my life were I got nervous! It was GO GO GO with the green lights going out. My start was much better, holding the lead of the race for a couple of laps, and as the race started to settle, Vuitthikorn passed for the lead with me slotting in 2nd place. Things were fine and I had a position on circuit to spare so if it finished this way, I would win the class B title this year. Though another two laps into the race, something unexpected happened. I was passed by Francis Tjia, and another two laps later by Wayne Shen. During those four laps, we had epic battles and Francis in particular had used up a lot of his tyres while we battled. Wayne had better tyres than all of us and had speed. Meanwhile, my car had old tyres from qualifying so if drivers were equal, this was not going to be an easy afternoon for me.
I was 4th. The championship title was out of my hands. It was lap eight, with four laps remaining. As I looked up ahead, Francis was slowing down considerably. It looked like he was struggling so I found hope in the fact that we were catching Francis quickly again. As Wayne went passed me, he caught Francis very quickly and had a visually much faster car by that point and as he got overtaken on the outside of turn fourteen, Francis hit the throttle too hard on his worn out rubber and spun.
I couldn’t believe it. The title was mine again.
The final three laps of the race was simply terrifying. The points were locked up very closely and only one of us was going to win. I kept pace but also made sure not to push the car too hard in case of any mistakes or mechanical failures.
Two laps to go. One lap to go. I had crossed the line in 3rd place, made the podium and edged out Thailand’s Vuitthikorn for the 2015 class B championship title! It was a great feeling!
Thanks to Team Jebsen, Joe, Terence, Minal, Noel, Charlie Shiva, my fiancé Claire Jedrek, EKS Motorsports. And of course the sponsors Exquisite Marques, Tresor Diamonds, Leica, The Film Dispensary, The Karting Arena and most importantly, our magazine partner EVO Singapore! Its been a great season!