This year’s Singapore Karting Championship (SKC) saw a lot of changes in terms of organisation, management and especially the commercial aspects. Ultimately, everyone is there to race and the focus still has to be on the drivers.
With only 38 drivers across five categories this season, this is a quite a significant dip in participation compared to last year’s inaugural Singapore Karting Championship round where there were 60 over drivers.
I can think of many reasons for this – Easter weekend so some might be involved in church, long weekend so some might be travelling with families, All Stars Karting Series Round 2 was held at Shah Alam circuit the same weekend, or people just weren’t interested anymore. There were quite a few new faces to the kart racing scene and this is good news, meaning the sport is slowly but gradually reaching out to more people.
Here’s a report by category:
In the cute under-12 category, defending champion Jon Lee had the perfect weekend – he qualified first, won both Heat 1 & 2, won the pre-final and then scored a complete 5/5 when he won the final convincingly.
Javier Chng was Jon’s closest competitor, but Javier had to deal with a three-second penalty for crossing the blend line during qualifying, dropping from P2 to P6. Starting in 6th for the heats, Javier did well to catch up and finish second for both heats despite facing a 10-second penalty for a jump start in Heat 2. In the pre-final, Javier finished second again.
During the final, he looked like he might pose a threat to Jon as he followed the race leader quite closely. But Jon kept pushing and handled his lead well, earning himself the perfect weekend.
His younger brother Josh Lee, 9, did extremely well in his SKC debut by taking the last spot on the podium after Jon and Javier.
1st – Jon Lee
2nd – Javier Chng
3rd – Josh Lee
Also fielding seven karters in the Junior category, we saw Gabriella Teo on her full SKC season debut (she was the first female to take part in the SKC at round five last season). This time, she is not the only female of the drivers, with Manon Maistre competing in the same class as her.
Gabriella’s pre-season testing and hard work paid off as she started the weekend with pole position after qualifying first with her best lap time of 34.067.
Defending champion Amin Noorzilan faced a three-second penalty for crossing the blend line during qualifying and was dropped to P6. Yeo Hong Yang, who was ill all weekend with diarrheoa and a lack of appetite, and had mechanical problems with his kart too, managed to qualify second.
To say that Heat 1 of the Junior category was an eventful one is an understatement. Having qualified in pole position, Gabriella started at the front of the pack and was to lead the warm-up lap as well as formation lap. As this is her maiden pole position at only her second ever race, she was unfamiliar with leading and the race was thus stopped before being restarted with Gabriella at the rear. Probably anxious to chase to the front, Gabriella got involved in a three-kart crash within the first lap and the medical team was even deployed. Red flagged, this heat was stopped while the rest of Heat 1 continued for the other categories.
Heat 2 was ran next, with Gabriella starting at the back again. She caught up to fourth place, behind Chen Sze Ming, Amin and Santosh Bala Kerishnan, younger brother of Suriya Bala Kerishnan who was racing in Formula BMW Pacific yesterday. Amin finished first for this heat actually, but was dealt a 10-second penalty for a jump start.
After all the Heat 2 runs of all categories were cleared, Heat 1 for the Junior category was run again. Amin finished first, followed by Chen Sze Ming and Gabriella Teo, but Amin again was faulted with a jump start and got a 10-second penalty, delegating him to third.
In the pre-final, it was Amin in first place then Gabriella before Sze Ming. Nope, this time Amin did not get any penalty!
Starting in P2 for the final, Gabriella was hot on the heels of Amin, chasing him aggressively before taking him at the last turn before the straight during the first half of the 25-lap race. Amin must have been panicking, but he never lost sight of Gabriella, keeping her within his reach. He eventually got her back later in the race and managed to pull away as backmarkers started to get in the way of Gabriella’s pursuit.
Speaking to him after the race, Amin said he was facing a problem with his carburetor early in the race and was losing speed.
After manually correcting it while at the same time trying to kart fast, he got his pace back and hunted Gabby down.
1st – Amin Noorzilan
2nd – Gabriella Teo
3rd – Yeo Hong Yang
The Senior class had to be the most unpredictable of the weekend. It started with Vincent Nathan qualifying in first place, followed by Saravanan Rajakumar (whose racing suit has “The Godfather” emblazoned across the front) and Ted Linn. Jason Lee actually qualified in third but was penalised down three seconds for crossing the blend line, pushing him to P9 of the 11 competitors.
Saravanan crossed the finish line first for both heats but encountered a jump start penalty of 10 seconds on both occasions, causing him to be in P5 and P6 for Heat 1 and Heat 2 respectively. The top three results of Heat 1 mirrors that of Heat 2, with Vincent Nathan, Ted Linn and Tan Pei Shen in that order.
Vincent kept up the performance and finished first in the pre-final, with Saravanan 3.387 seconds behind, followed by Pei Shen and Randall Ng. Jason Lee had quite a bad pre-final, first with Morghan Loganathan’s bumper stuck in his right wheels at the start, then his chain coming loose, causing him a DNF.
Now, if you thought the Junior final was dramatic, wait till you hear about the Seniors! On the warm-up lap, pole-sitter Vincent met with an incident when his clutch exploded somewhere at the back of the track. By the first three laps of the race, there were three retirements already, leaving eight of them on the track.
Saravanan basically just drove a race on his own as he took the lead in the absence of Vincent. Chaos started occurring behind Saravanan, who just concentrated on staying in front and out of trouble. Randall Ng and Li Haibo were battling for second place (Randall in front of the latter) when they crashed at the S-curve at the front of the track (nearest to pit lane). Getting out of their karts, they quickly got back in and re-joined the race but had already lost precious time.
Taking over the battle for second were then Austin Hicks and Ted Linn (Ted behind Austin), who were in these positions for some time. In fact, Austin was holding up three karters behind him – Ted, Jason and Pei Shen, all three who were trying to get ahead. Austin and Ted then met with a collision, with Austin out of the race and Ted managing to continue.
Jason and Pei Shen took over the battle for second then, hoping to keep it safe to the end. Pei Shen was all over the back of Jason though, and it was an accident waiting to happen. At Turn 2 while Jason was on the inside line, Pei Shen took a lunge and the crash happened! That took both of them out of the running as they abandoned their karts and could only watch the rest of the race from the sidelines.
Eventually it was Saravanan, Ted and Jack McGregor who took the podium for the Seniors.
1st – Saravanan Rajakumar
2nd – Ted Lin
3rd – Jack McGregor
Like Jon Lee of the Cadets, Eric Ho Hoi San steadily finished first in qualifying, both heats, pre-final and the final. Qualifying in second and third was Yap Kheng Weng and Steven Chen Choon Khee respectively.
Yap Kheng Weng did not start Heat 1, so it was Benjamin Goh who finished second in Heat 1 followed by Steven. Back in action in Heat 2, Kheng Weng was second to Eric with Ben Goh in third. Kheng Weng and Ben Goh collided in the pre-final, taking the former out of the competition. With both of them out, it was Steven who came in after Eric, then Peng Malakul in third.
In the final, finally Kheng Weng and Ben Goh had it smooth and kept it safe to finish in second and third respectively after Eric.
1st – Eric Ho
2nd – Yap Kheng Weng
3rd – Benjamin Goh
Fielding the smallest driver group of the weekend, the veterans proved that age is no barrier in racing. Defending champion Kenny Yip was brilliant all weekend too, finishing first for everything, just like Eric of Masters and Jon of Cadets.
Anthony Seow also displayed consistency throughout, finishing second behind Kenny all the way. Richard Wee qualified in third, but did not start in both heats, before managing fourth in the pre-final and final.
1st – Kenny Yip
2nd – Anthony Seow
3rd – Leon Khoo
I didn’t stay to the end as I had to rush off for the Red Bull Speed Street event. I wanted to catch the podium ceremony! It was good to see familiar faces on the track improving their times from last season, as well as new faces making their mark on the scene.
The next round will be on 14 – 15 May, less than a month away!