Aston Hare remained in contention for the drivers’ championship after claiming the narrowest of victories in race eight of the JK Racing Asia Series at Spa Francorchamps here on Saturday.

The young South African came home hotly pursued by Malaysia’s Nabil Jeffri, but managed to win by 0.389 seconds to get to within 12 points of the latter at the top of the standings. Another Malaysian Wei Ron Tan finished in third to round off yet another podium sweep for the Eurointernational team.

Hare had made a hash of his start on Friday, but the rookie driver amply compensated for that here, grabbing the lead at the first turn from Jeffri, who had started in pole.

He opened up a reasonable gap and it was not until midway through the eight-lap race that he faced any threat from Jeffri.

When the latter did settle down, he went after Hare, steadily eating into the lead on the next two laps until he came close enough to pass the 16-year-old. Twice he attempted a move at turn one, perhaps the best overtaking opportunity on the circuit, but Hare clung on.

“It was a long race,” he sighed afterwards in visible relief. “My start was really good today. I took the lead and got through the first corner in one piece. I thought on the last corner that Nabil (Jeffri) had me, but I held him off.”

The win was Hare’s third (and seventh podium finish) of the season.

Jeffri, for his part, regretted the bad start that saw him slip from pole. “I had too much wheelspin at the start. I caught up thereafter but Aston (Hare) defended his lines really well. For me, it was important to finish Spa as the championship leader and I’m happy.”

India’s Aditya Patel, a guest driver here, had climbed up to fifth at one stage but eventually finished ninth.

The JKRAS travels to Singapore next, where two races will be held on the sidelines of the Singapore GP in September.

The results: 1. Aston Hare (Eurointernational, South Africa) 23:12.038, 2. Nabil Jeffri (Eurointernational, Malaysia) 23:12.427, 3. Wei Ron Tan (Eurointernational, Malaysia) 23:13.918; 9. Aditya Patel (US Formula Project, India) 23:40.588.

Drivers’ championship (after eight races): 1. Nabil Jeffri 128 points; 2. Aston Hare 122; 3. Irfan Ilyas 73.

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