It was a last-minute decision to go down for the sixth and last round of the Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia 2012 /Asia Max Challenge Series last weekend. I bought a ticket on Friday to make a day trip to Sepang on Sunday so I could catch the finals. Catching the 7am flight after waking up at 5am, I reached the track just in time for their warm-up laps.
I’ve always liked the under-12 category – in this series, that class is the Micromax class. Daryl Wenas, whom I first saw at Macau last year, has grown SO tall now. Sitting up higher than the others in his class, he is one of the tallest there!
I really admire the guts of these kids. Going at that kind of speeds at the age of nine or 10 and making the move to overtake at those speeds – that’s really something. In the final, there was a little scuffle after the first corner and it affected Nazim Azman (#17) who started in P1. He qualified first, then finished third in Heat 1 and first in Heat 2.
He won the pre-final hence starting the final in P1.
He chased Prassetyo Hardja hard but just couldn’t find that opportunity to overtake him. Eventually, Prassetyo won by 0.101 seconds, confidently letting go of his steering wheel with both hands even before getting to the finish line.
Thankfully he did cross the finish line in first place, pumping his little fist in the air for triumph.
Prassetyo was all smiles with that close victory…
… and he also won the overall Asia Max Challenge (Micromax) title. If it’s any consolation for Nazim, he was crowned the Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia (Micromax) champion for being the highest Malaysian finisher.
One little karter that I want to put the spotlight on is Oscar Ng, son of Wai Leong who runs City Karting.
Oscar may have finished last, but this little rascal has so much energy you wonder what all that racing has done to him.
When he caught me taking a photo of him, he huffily put his hands on his hips and went, “Who are you? Why you take my picture?” indignantly. So I asked if I can take his photo and he went , “NO!” before running off and jumping over one of those orange and white water barriers.
Before I move on to the Junior class, I just want to post something interesting that I noticed more this round – a series of pre-race prayers by the various drivers:
I wonder what is going through their mind – the visualisation work, the calming of nerves (if any), the will to drive their hearts out. Whatever it is, it shows how serious they are taking this sport.
The Junior category had 29 drivers, the biggest field of this round and boy is that category highly competitive man.
It was nice to see Indonesian girl racer Kezia Santoso here, sporting the slogan “I CAN IF I WANT” across the back of her suit – which she claims was her father’s doing.
Lee Wai Cong started the weekend strong when he was fastest in qualifying, but it was Daniel Woodroof who came on strong when he won both heats. The pre-final was won by Daim Hishammudin though – Daim worked from a 27th place in qualifying (because he went out on wet tyres on a drying track) to the front.
The final was crucial for Daim as his championship hopes are on the line. His closest contender Syazwan Noor started in fifth place for the final. Syazwan unfortunately got tangled in an incident and found himself in last place with a damaged kart that he repaired and got out again to finish the race. The incident after the start of the race had Luqman Hakim curling up in pain after he rolled his kart off the track.
Pain seared through his hand and I believe one of his fingers got dislocated. Ouch. Get well soon Luqman!
The final was a relatively smooth one for Daim and he too starting punching his fist in the air after rounding the last corner.
This is Daim’s first race win of the season, after three second-place finishes and two poor results.
This win sealed the Asia Max Challenge (Junior) title for him, while Syazwan had to settle for second. Because Daim is Singaporean and not eligible to run in Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia, that title was for Syazwan to take.
The Senior category is also a competitive one. Some entertainment from the Senior category is not from the drivers, but from the parents, such as Tanapon Nokkaew’s (pictured below) mother who cheers fervently for him from the stands. This round I think she was feeling a bit unwell so she wasn’t her usual cheering self.
There was surprise in the paddock when a new pole-sitter emerged from the Senior category – Gary Koh qualified fastest. Always finishing in the middle or near the back, he was in the front for the first time. His heats didn’t go all that well though, finishing ninth in Heat 1 and 18th in Heat 2 after he spun at the first turn.
Ryuichi Nara won both heats, but it was Akito Saito who won the pre-final and then the final.
Although Zahir Ali only came in 14th in the final, he had enough points to remain top in the standings for the Asia Max Challenge (Senior) to ascend the top of the podium in his slippers. Nik Azri won the Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia (Senior) title.
Senna Noor of Indonesia came in fifth for this race, but was overall second to Zahir in the Asian standings. This isn’t the first time I am watching him frantically try to zip up his suit at the podium.
Missing from the track since Round 2, Ang Kok Wee of Singapore returned to compete in the DD2 category for this round and was still on the pace when qualified first.
Riki Tanioka won Heat 1 and Ang won Heat 2, but Ang only managed fourth in the pre-final and the final.
Mithun Ganatra won the final eventually, taking the Asia Max Challenge (DD2) title as well. Because the DD2 class is further split into Masters and Senior, Mithun is the DD2 Senior champ while Riki is the DD2 Masters champ.
That’s it for the Rotax Max Challenge season for Malaysia this year.
I followed the season more closely this year and got to know some of the drivers better, even earning a “son”. *winks*
I will miss the people who make up the series, from the organisers to the sponsors to the drivers to the spectators and also the marshals!
Congratulations to all the winners and hugs to those who experienced disappointments.. Come back stronger next season!
For more photos of RMC/AMC Round 6, view here.
Full results here.