Silverio and Goddard rev up for another series clash

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2002, 12:00am

Jojo Silverio of the Philippines and Englishman Mark Goddard will resume their long-standing rivalry when the 2002 Asian Formula Challenge (AFC) series roars into action this weekend at the Zhuhai international circuit in Guangdong province.

Last year's Philippine F3 champion Silverio and Goddard have split the first four rounds in the 14-race championship with Tom's Zed driver Silverio leading the standings with 62 points, while Goddard of Castrol Team is second on 40 points. They are now set to battle it out once again as rounds five and six in the event - which combines Formula Three and Formula Renault - get under way.

The duo will be put to the test by Frenchman Philippe Descombes of FRD Motorsports and Vertex Motorsports team leader Marchy Lee of Hong Kong who both made strong showings during the last two rounds also held in Zhuhai last month.

But conditions will be totally different. After a couple of days of torrential rain, unofficial practice began yesterday at the 4.32-kilometre Zhuhai track. Timed practice will be held today and tomorrow to decide the grid.

'There was not much grip today. I was just shaking down my chassis, so I was going slow. We replaced the old, bent tub in our car with a new one an it feels much better. It's impossible to say how things will go as track conditions are completely different,' Descombes said.

FRD Motorsports' David Louie added: 'I hope the track will be dry this weekend. The F3 cars have more power and it will be more difficult to drive them in the rain. I'd rather be in Formula Renault if it rains.'

Other drivers in contention for a top placing are Filipino's Pepon Marave of Shell Racing Team, Richard Joson of Denso JF3 Racing and J.P. Tuason of TRP Team Oxygen.

In the Formula Renault category, China's Franky Cheng Cong-fu is all alone at the top of the standings with a commanding 120 points after winning all of the first four rounds. The 17-year-old Beijing-born driver is being groomed to become the first Chinese Formula One driver.

A massive 50 points behind Cheng, and in second place is Filipino Enzo Pastor, who was punted from the rear while leading during the last round, resulting in him being unable to end the race.

The AFC series comprises 11 Asian-based Formula Three racing teams and a minimum of eight Formula Renault teams racing side-by-side. A total of 30 cars will be on the grid on Sunday.

The series is now in its second year of an ambitious five-year plan to provide an arena for racing teams from all over Asia to compete in open-wheel race-cars including F3 and Formula Renault.

'We now provide Asian drivers with a recognised ladder which takes them all the way to the top,' said FRD's marketing manager Simon Leach. 'This championship throws up a fascinating variety of challenging circuits and will produce two champions worthy of an F1 seat.'

This year's championship features a seven-leg, 14-race calendar with the rounds taking place in South Korea, Malaysia, China and the Philippines.