Text by Cheryl Tay, www.cheryl-tay.com
Photos by Peter Lim, www.photodesk.com.my
For the first time in 35 years, the annual Yamaha Invitational Challenge was held outside of Japan. On the weekend of 27 – 28 November, 62 participants from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and India raced across three categories – Cadet, Junior and Senior â€“ at the Speedway PLUS Circuit in Malaysia.
Competitors of the PLUS Yamaha SL International Challenge 2010 utilise the same Yamaha 97.6cc single cylinder two-stroke engine and Birel chassis. Monsoon season at this time of the year saw torrential rain strike the grid and Heat 2 had to be postponed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning.
Maximilian Fewtrell of the Cadet category had an almost perfect weekend when he finished first in qualifying, heat 1 and the final. He came in second for heat 2 and the pre-final. The 11-year-old English-born Singapore-based karter has improved lots since the start of the year, probably due to the karting experience he gained in Europe over the year.
Hot on Maximilian’s tail was Ryuta Ueda, who qualified just 0.231 second behind. Ryuta got closer to Maximilian in Heat 1, finishing 0.176 second after. But it was 2010 Yamaha SL Cup cadet champion Daim Hishammudin who beat both of them in Heat 2. Maximilian and Ryuta continued battling for the title; Ryuta taking the pre-final 0.166 second in front of Maximilian.
Ultimately though, it was the little Fewtrell who led the 23-strong field to the chequered flag. It was a crowded grid for the cadets and karters like James Pull was forced off the track onto the grass on the second lap, in an attempt to avoid a three-kart pile-up ahead.
Coming to a halt on the grass after a spin, Pull had to wait for the rest of the field to drive past before he could rejoin the race in last place. He then determinedly chased through the field and caught up 10 places to finish in 13th place. The Junior category of 24 drivers was dominated by the Japanese and Thais. Preawphan Thammalapa took pole position in qualifying but finished 0.401 second behind Todoriki Tsuyoshi in Heat 1. In Heat 2, Preawphan was defeated by two other Japanese drivers – Kohei Higashikawa and Fuma Horio. Eventually the Japanese proved too strong as Todoriki Tsuyoshi and Tomoki Takahashi came in first and second respectively in the pre-final.
Todoriki kept his winning form through to the final and took top spot on the podium. Malaysian-dominated Senior category (11 of 15 drivers are Malaysian) had real tough competition with names like 2010 Yahama SL Cup Senior champion Tan Wei Ron and Formula BMW Pacific drivers Calvin Wong and Natasha Seatter. Ron missed pole position by a whisker, merely 0.070 second slower than pole-sitter Daichi Nagano. But he made it up after by winning Heat 1 and Heat 2, with Calvin Wong following close behind.
Daichi came back and won the pre-final but was not fast enough to beat Ron, who secured a successful Yamaha season, conquering the SL Cup Malaysia Series as well as this Invitational Challenge. Daichi had to settle for third place as Rahul Raj Meyer edged himself between Ron and Daichi. It was a great experience for the karters from the region as they learnt how to deal with traffic on a crowded track. The winners of each category – Maximilian (Cadet), Todoriki (Junior) and Ron (Senior) – took home a trophy, a Yamaha KT100SEC engine and an Arai CK6 helmet, while the other two runners-up got a trophy each.
YAMAHA INVITATIONAL CHALLENGE 2010 RESULTS