Malaysia's Afiq Ikhwan Yazid celebrated a warm Saturday evening with a bottle of champagne after clinching the 11th round of the JK Racing Asia Series, the support event of the 2011 F1 Singtel Singapore GP, at the Marina Bay street circuit here.

Championship leader Lucas Auer of Austria was expected to give the Meritus GP entrant a run for his money. And, he did that quite smartly with a strong start in the opening lap. Starting ninth on the grid, the Eurointernational driver made his way to the top before a costly bump upset his terrific rhythm.

Ikhwan thanked his stars, and despite the safety car coming out twice, kept his cool and the pace to emerge the topper.

Lucas had to rest content with the second spot and Petronas Racing driver Nabil Jeffri from Malaysia the third.

“It was a good race, but the safety car coming out time and again did disturb my concentration. It was not like racing at all,” said Ikhwan after the race. “The car was really good and I am happy to be closing in on the championship,” he added. Auer felt sorry about the early incident but was pleased to have finished on the podium. “The car is ok and I must thank my team for doing a great job,” said Auer, who recorded the fastest lap timing of 2:22.630s for the day.

Jefrri, who missed out on a podium finish on both occasions last year, was thrilled to have found a place among the top three. “It could have been better but there is always another day for me to prove a point,” he said referring to the Sunday showdown.

India's Raj Bharath, representing Meritus GP was confident of improving his seventh-place finish at Sepang. He did impress at the start but the youngster from Bangalore lost control of his car midway through and with it crashed his hopes as well.

The results (provisional): 1. Afiq Ikhwan (Meritus GP) 25:13.931s; 2. Lucas Auer (Eurointernational) 25:14.386; 3. Nabil Jeffri (Petronas Racing) 25:15.076; 4. D. Padayachee (Eurasia Motorsport) 25:15.704; 5. A. Nandy (Meritus GP) 25:16.468.

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