OtojatimID- The Australian squad is best known for its Supercars success Down Under but joined Asia’s GT ranks full-time in 2019 with Johor Royal Prince Jefri Ibrahim, Jaafar and Shane van Gisbergen. SRO Motorsports Group’s Asian series has been on enforced hiatus since then due to the global pandemic but is set to resume this year with a cast of new and familiar teams like Triple Eight JMR.
Prince Jefri’s renewed Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS commitments restrict him to only contesting Asia’s opening round on home soil in Malaysia. Instead, his brother and member of the Johor region’s Royal Family, Prince Abu Bakar, makes his series and GT3 debut alongside seasoned Pro and fellow countryman Jaafar. “I’m really looking forward to my debut race in the GT3 in Sepang,” said the prince “I had my first race and first win there back in 2019 alongside my brother Jefri. We have a lot of memories there together and with the team.
“Racing with Jazeman for my debut season will be a great opportunity to absorb all the experience he has gained throughout his racing career. I’m very blessed and proud to be racing under the Triple Eight Race Engineering and JMR banner for the first time! It’s going to be a huge learning curve for me but I’m looking forward to the challenge, and having the experience of my team-mate Jazeman and also the racing team will be a strong advantage. I’m really pumped for this and can’t wait for the season to start.”
Jaafar is also pleased to be returning with Triple Eight after a partial campaign with Prince Jefri in 2019. “I am truly delighted and excited to be back with a team I call ‘home’,” said the Malaysian. “Triple Eight and JMR have grown enormously since their collaboration first began in 2019 and have been one of the most competitive teams on the grid. We want to push to collect strong results and podiums in the championship, as well as gather good preparation for Prince Abu Bakar for his debut season in Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS.
“I would like to thank the team – both JMR and Triple Eight – for giving me the opportunity to come back and race with them.” Triple Eight JMR continued to race their Mercedes-AMG GT3 domestically throughout 2021. And that recent experience compared with many of Asia’s outfits is bound to prove beneficial, according to team principal Andrew Simpson.
“After a brilliant year in 2019, Triple Eight and JMR are really excited to be back racing in Asia,” he said. “It was a shame not to be able to keep that momentum going after such a successful debut, including a class win in South Korea, what with the Covid-19 travel restrictions, but we’ve learnt a lot since then. “We had a lot of fun last year in the inaugural season of Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS with Prince Jefri and learnt an awful lot that we’ll be able to bring to Asia.
“This will be Prince Abu Bakar’s first competitive season in the AMG GT3. He’s shown great promise so far and testing with us in Australia was a fantastic experience for him. Jazeman will be an excellent mentor and team-mate for him. As for Prince Jefri, he has matured immensely as a driver and should be very competitive at a track he knows well.”
Prince Jefri’s experience will provide a useful yardstick for his brother who makes his GT3 debut at the same venue three years later this May. “I’m really glad that Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS is happening again this year,” said Prince Jefri. “The last time we raced in Asia it was my debut race in 2019 at Sepang – a home race. So it’s really nice to be back, and racing alongside my brother at his debut race in a GT3 as well. It’s great to see the Triple Eight Race Engineering and JMR team growing.”
“I’ve really missed the Sepang track; it’s an amazing track, so we are hoping for a strong result in front of the home crowd.” Sepang hosts the opening round of this year’s championship on May 20-22 before outings at Suzuka, Fuji, Sugo and Okayama also count towards the inaugural Japan Cup. Mandalika in Indonesia caps off the full six-event calendar in October. (BP)