The first round of AOC was held at my home track here in Shanghai with a new layout, extremely technical and non-forgiving. The indoor asphalt traction at RCI is always high provided there is no moisture in the air. Unfortunately due to the media coverage of the H7N9 bird flu in Shanghai, many drivers decided not to attend in the last minute, but we still got quite a few from Hong Kong. Ronald Voelker was the only big name driver who came and I was looking forward to it.
After the first few rounds of practice, my pace was not as good as I thought it would be and could not figure out why my car was not working as it should. After much searching, I found the reason why. Normally at RCI, the only tire additive used is LRP and since everyone uses it, the track surface is always the same. But this time, many drivers from abroad were using all kinds of different tire additive and the track was really not its normal self, making the setup extremely difficult to find.
Once in the finals, my set up was not the best as I wanted it to be but I had to race with what I had. Final #1, Ronald’s race pace was not the fastest, but he drove a very precise race. I challenged him early on but then fell off just a bit as we finished about 3 seconds apart and the only two who made 22 laps. Final #2, I was called for a penalty hitting Ronald’s rear but at the same time got hit and had a body tuck, after recovering, basically my race was over. Final #3, I have a good start and was chasing Ronald but later fell back to 5 or 6 on a back marker hit. But I drove hard and made my way up to third and made a clean pass over Salton Dong into second. Ronald was way ahead so the battle was to finish second. Unfortunately I was hit by Salton and dropped down to finish third. Overall, due to my 22 lap run in the first final, I won the tie break and claimed second overall on the podium.
It was a fun race, I wished more top drivers would come, but thanks to Ronald, I had a challenge to face at my home track. I am planning to attend the AOC round 2 in Melbourne this summer. Thanks to Scotty Ernst for bringing AOC to Shanghai, China!