Postcard from Pekan: RMC and AMC 2012 Round 5

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

It’s been awhile since I last attended one of the Rotax Max Challenge (RMC) Malaysia and Asia Max Challenge (AMC) races. The six-round Series started in February, after the annual Rotax Invitational Race in January. I went for the Invitational, the first round, as well as the second round, all of which were held at the same place – PLUS Speedway Elite at Subang. I remember hunting for new angles to differentiate each round!

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I couldn’t make Rounds 3 and 4, so I was glad that I could make it for Round 5 that just took place over the weekend of 8 – 9 September.

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It was held as the Royal Pahang Kart Prix on the streets of Pekan, so I flew in to Kuala Lumpur and then drove three hours down to Pekan. I only arrived sometime mid-day on Saturday, in time to catch the qualifying session and also Heat 1.

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_35There are four categories – MicroMax, Junior, Senior and DD2. 

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_4Heat 2 for DD2 and MicroMax was held on Sunday, while Heat 2 for the Juniors and Seniors, as well as the pre-finals and the finals were all held on Sunday. It was a wet afternoon on Saturday, but thankfully the weather on Sunday was beautiful!

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The MicroMax drivers (12 years old and below) never fail to amaze me with their courage to race at such high speeds!

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Just look at how cute they are!

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_37It was good to see Presley Martono at this round.

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_19He isn’t doing the entire RMC Malaysia/Asia series but will make it down if his race schedule permits – he is racing a lot in Europe this season. 

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Presley qualified second, won both heats, but lost the lead in the pre-final to come in second.

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Getting ahead in the final, Presley was determined to beat fellow Indonesian Prassetyo Hardja to take the win… and he did. Prassetyo had to settle for second place, followed by Gezha Sudirman in third.

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Of the 14 MicroMax drivers, there was one Singaporean – Josh Lee, brother of national Cadet karting champion Jon Lee.

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rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_25Josh qualified 8th, finished 5th in Heat 1 and 7th in Heat 2. In the pre-final however, he met with an incident in the first corner at the start of the race with Jakkarin Sirinonthanawech and Barichello Noor, and came in last.

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_50rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_51rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_52Jakkarin and Josh managed to carry on, but Barichello had to retire from the race.

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All three were back on track for the final and Josh finished 5th. I noticed that Nazim Azman, on more than one occasion, was driving with his kart like that… due to incidents during the race.

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rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_72Something funny happened just minutes before the pre-final for the MicroMax drivers – a herd of goats suddenly appeared trackside and the marshals had to chase them away.

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There were random goats everywhere actually!

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In the Junior class, the fight was mainly between Daniel Woodroof and Daim Hishammudin, though Daniel was putting out solid timings throughout the weekend.

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Daniel qualified fastest, but it was Daim who beat him in Heat 1, by 0.123 seconds.

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But in Heat 2, Daniel came back strong and won by 4.068 seconds ahead of Daim.

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In the pre-final, Daim had a good start…

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… managing to get out front, while chaos happened behind him.

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Poor Nayan Chatterjee sent his kart ‘rallying’ in the dirt…

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_60rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_61I see a Go-Pro on his helmet – wonder how the video turned out!

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With 26 drivers in the Junior class, it is not surprising that clashes and pushes are aplenty. This is a scene from the Juniors’ Heat 1 on Saturday.

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Back to the Junior pre-final, Daniel caught up with Daim but the latter managed to hold off Daniel for a win by 0.265 seconds.

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Daim started well again in the final..

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… but Daniel got him and went on to win the Junior final by 4.910 seconds.

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The other Singaporeans in the Junior class aside from Daim were Amin Noorzilan, national Junior karting champion, and Glenn Chiam who is back in racing after a one-year hiatus due to his PSLE examinations.

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It wasn’t a smooth weekend for both Amin and Glenn as they found themselves in mid-field – Amin finished 12th in the final and Glenn in 18th.

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I also want to give Timothy Yeo a special mention here – (he addresses me as ‘Mum’, simply because one of the karters’ father previously mistaken me as Tim’s mum!) Tim finished 5th in the final, before that he was 4th in the pre-final, having recovered from a bad Heat 2 where he finished in 17th. On Saturday he was 4th in qualifying and Heat 1.

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Kent Jun, and his characteristic frown, had a good start to the weekend when he qualified 3rd. However, thereafter he was 6th in Heat 1 and then a horrible last place in Heat 2 after something happened. He continued fighting and eventually finished 6th in pre-final and third in the final.

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As it was a temporary street track, there were many cones used to mark out the track and there was a harsh penalty of +10 seconds to those who hit particular cones on the track.

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Some of them had cones in their faces and some, like Uthayachelvan here, got it stuck under his kart, causing him to lose precious time getting it out.

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_68rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_69The Senior category was a really competitive one.

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Senna S.N. from Indonesia qualified first…

rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_83… but he was beaten by Silvano Christian in Heat 1 and Heat 2.

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Silvano ran into trouble in the pre-final and failed to finish it, so it was Senna who won the pre-final.

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rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_42Teruhisa Tanaka (as pictured above) and Zahir Ali did not make it easy for Senna in the final though. Zahir took the lead from Senna and Senna was hot on Zahir’s heels, but Zahir held on to the lead for the win.

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Singaporeans Sean Hudspeth and Gary Koh didn’t have too good a weekend in the Senior class though.
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Forcing the best he could out of the problematic kart, Sean qualified 16th, finished 14th in Heat 1, 10th in Heat 2, 15th in the pre-final and 17th in the final. Having been with IS Racing for the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia & Asia Max Challenge series, Sean will be switching teams to Simon Racing for the sixth and last round next month.
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Gary had a better weekend initially, first qualifying in 9th, but coming in 21st in Heat 1 and 11th in Heat 2. Gary managed a 16th in the pre-final but barely started the final.
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Switching to new teams this round, brothers Freddie and Gilbert Ang were racing alongside each other in the same category. Racing with Calvin Motorsports, this is Freddie’s first race of the series, after only doing the Rotax Invitational Race in January.
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RMC/AMC 2010 and 2011 Junior champion Gilbert is in his first year of Seniors and is now with Simon Racing.
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While Gilbert qualified in 8th, Freddie had a bad session and qualified last of the 24-driver Senior grid. In Heat 1, Gilbert finished 7th and Freddie recovered from the poor qualifying and came in 16th. Gilbert bettered his result from Heat 1 and finished 4th in Heat 2, but Freddie dropped one down the order to come in 17th.
rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_88The pre-final saw Gilbert in 8th and Freddie in 14th. Finally, Gilbert finished 7th overall and 1st of the Malaysian category; Freddie followed up with 11th overall and 3rd in the Malaysian category.
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Calvin Seibl greatly expressed his joy when he received his 2nd prize in the Malaysian category for the Senior class. 
rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_93The DD2 class was dominated by Mikko Nassi all the way, from qualifying first to winning both heats, the pre-final and the final.
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Like the other classes, unwanted incidents were not spared.
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In racing, you always want to look ahead and hunt down the drivers in front so you can overtake them… but sometimes you just can’t help looking back to see how far the next driver is or who is the one breathing down your neck.
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One thing I enjoy about these races is the people – be it the drivers themselves, their families and supporters, the crew, the marshals, the officials, the medics, the crowds… basically everyone at the track!
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Bearing the heat, smiles were all around.
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Enthusiastic mothers cheered their sons on… 
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A fine example is Khun Was, who should be awarded the Best Cheerleader award! 
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Since I first met her at one of the rounds in last year’s series, her loud cheering for her son Tanapon Nokkaew (in the Senior class) always amuses me.
rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_44Here is a video I took at last year’s RMC Round 5 when I first met Khun Was:
People from the area curiously came over to the track in their cars, motorbikes, bicycles, or even walked, just to check out the action.
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Look at some of the really cute kids watching the race…
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rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_39rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_92Being there to soak up the atmosphere is one thing, but I don’t think all of them really enjoyed being there.
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It was my first time at Pekan and the track is quite interesting, with wild goats and butterflies!
rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_70rmcrd5IMG_5484_copy_71Rivalry on track is intense, especially when there is only one more round to go – 13 and 14 October in Sepang – but it was nice to see the drivers get along off track. Sometimes.
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For more of my photos from RMC Round 5, view here.

 

For results of RMC Round 5, go here.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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