Text and photos by Cheryl Tay, www.cheryl-tay.com
The Heavens showed no mercy on the drivers during the closing hours of the fifth and final round of the 2011 Singapore Karting Championship (SKC) held on 19 and 20 November at Kartright Speedway. Heavy rain plummeted and the extreme wet conditions caused disruptions in the final race of the weekend for the Senior, Masters and Veteran categories.
There was no real cause for panic though, as the championship contenders already had the titles in the bag by then. Prior to the weekend, Anthony Seow secured the Veteran title but the other four categories still had room for title-grabbing action.
Reigning Cadet champion Jon Lee had no threat defending his title – qualifying in pole position, finishing fastest in the heats and the pre-final before taking the chequered flag first for the final race. Jon’s closest competitor Javier Chng finished second on Sunday and also overall second in the championship – a commendable effort from his first karting season after trying karting for the first time last September.
The Junior category held the biggest controversy of the weekend when female karters Gabriella Teo and Manon Maistre collided in the pre-final, sending Manon flipping and landing on her head.
Thankfully Manon escaped unscathed from the accident but her chances for her first podium finish were ruined as she had to start at the back for final. Nonetheless, her form has improved by leaps and bounds and she might well be a regular feature on the podium next season!
Throughout the season, the same faces of Gabriella, defending Junior champion Amin Noorzilan and Yeo Hong Yang dominated the Junior podium. Gabriella gave the boys a good run for their money, winning Round 2 and even leading the championship at some point during the season.
However, the title fight was down to Amin and Hong Yang, who were neck to neck throughout the weekend. Hong Yang was leading the final race but was forced to retire early because of a mechanical fault of his kart caused by an incident with Amin. Amin then took over the race lead and finished it first with Gabriella on his tail, clinching the overall Junior title a second time. The Junior podium also received a new face for the season as Santosh Bala Kerishnan mounted it in third place.
Defending Senior champion Mohammad Nasri Naufal (Opai) has not had much luck on his side this season and it was Thaddeus Lee who stormed to the top of the Senior tables instead, taking the 2011 Senior title. Thaddeus’ strategy for the weekend was to score maximum points so there will be no pressure on him in the final race. Indeed, Thaddeus qualified in pole position, finished first in both heats and the pre-final. Thus, Thaddeus secured the Senior title before the final race.
The rain came down in torrents halfway through the Senior final race and Thaddeus lost his lead after colliding with Opai and Vincent Nathan. The race was then red-flagged and officially called a wet race so drivers came in to switch tyres. When the race restarted, Thaddeus had to cope with a bent steering column in the increasing rain and only finished in fifth place.
It made no difference to his overall standings though. Thaddeus also took the Fastest Lap award – his third consecutive one from Rounds 3, 4 and 5. Saravanan Rajakumar crossed the finish line in second place behind Opai, followed by Ben Chen and Julien Fong. However, Saravanan’s 10-second penalty for unsportsmanship relegated him to sixth place and cost him the podium finish.
The weather cleared up momentarily for the Masters final race to start, only for the rain to come down even harder than before. The poor drivers of the Masters category had to struggle with the flooded track conditions and eventually the chequered flag was given after 11 laps of the initial 25-lap race.
By then, Ong Kian Leong and Benjamin Goh had overtaken race leader Paul Lee – defending Masters champion – who was facing engine problems due to the rain. Kian Leong achieved his first race win at SKC, while Eric Ho took the overall championship title despite not finishing on the podium this time.
The Veteran title was already secured by Anthony Seow prior to the last round of the SKC but that did not stop Anthony from returning to participate and win again, while Kenny Yip – defending Veteran champion – and Jann Yap finished second and third respectively.
This concludes the 2011 national karting season for Singapore, amid controversies, penalties, protests, surprise wins and unexpected achievements.
Singapore Karting Championship 2011
Round 5 Results
1st – Jon Lee
2nd – Javier Chng
3rd – Josh Lee
1st – Amin Noorzilan
2nd – Gabriella Teo
3rd – Santosh Bala Kerishnan
1st – Mohammad Nasri Naufal (Opai)
2nd – Ben Chen
3rd – Julien Fong
1st – Ong Kian Leong
2nd – Benjamin Goh
3rd – Paul Lee
1st – Anthony Seow
2nd – Kenny Yip
3rd – Jann Yap
Overall Championship Results
CADET – Jon Lee
JUNIOR – Amin Noorzilan
SENIOR – Thaddeus Lee
MASTERS – Eric Ho
VETERAN – Anthony Seow
*This was first published on SingaporeSports.sg’s STAR BLOGGER column.