Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia Round 2 – Chaos, Thunder, Storm

Round 2 of the Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia saw a handful of incidents took place, making this episode of karting one of the most eventful racing weekends in recent memories. Thunderstorm, pile ups, wheel banging, barriers flying and controversies resulting in many unexpected results in all categories. And in this treacherous conditions some true talent strutted their stuff, showcasing one of the best drivings the Malaysia karting scene has ever seen.

It was a calm Saturday at the Sepang International Karting Circuit. Drivers took their kart to the track to prepare for Sunday’s race, starting with the practice session and followed by time trial and race heats. All scheduled session was going according to plan until the Juniors hit the course for Heat 1.

Suddenly all hell broke loose when 10 Junior karters crashed onto each other at the start of the heat. That big pile up of karters even jumped on top of each other, only to be halted by the tyre barriers. The worst hit was Danial Roslan, who was thrown out of his kart. 3 karters including him were sent into the ambulance. Luckily all of them were okay albeit a little bump and sprain here and there. Most of them managed to continue to race in the next heat on Sunday.

And then came race day, where dark gloomy morning sky greeted everyone at the track and eventually provide the spectators with a very entertaining wet races. In the Masters category Kyle James Blockey stamped his marked by sweeping his rivals away with tremendous speed and smooth handling in the rain. He won both the Pre-final and the Final in a blowout, leading his nearest challenger 20.777 seconds and 36.022 seconds respectively. Ray Kong came in 2nd in both occasions.

Meanwhile Mikko Nassi of Team KRS lived up to his favourite’s tag in the DD2 class when he crossed the line 1st in the Pre-final. Kelvin Choo finished 2nd, 10 seconds adrift with Siti Shahkirah Shaharul a distant 3rd. The Final was contested as the track dries up, again won by Mikko. That results made sure he collected full points from the weekend. But this time Siti Shahkirah and Kelvin managed to stay close to him to finish 2nd and 3rd.

The Micromax championship battle between 3 top karters – Luqman Hakim, Gezha Sudirman and Max Fewtrell continues when they fought each other for the top spot from Heat 1 through Heat 2 and Pre-final. Max claimed the victory in Heat 1, Gezha won both Heat 2 and Pre-final while Luqman had to play the bridesmaid in all 3 sessions.

But Luqman had the last laugh, winning the Final to celebrate his first winner’s trophy this season. He and Max managed to brake away from the rest of the pack and continued dueling for the lead. Max was unable to find a way past Luqman, and in the end had to contend for 2nd place. Brendan Seibl completed the podium when he nicked the 3rd spot from Gezha who looked off form in the Final.

Now off to the Junior category, where plenty of drama unfolded during the event. Gilbert Ang managed to fend off challenges from Akash Neil Nandy to finish 1st in the Pre-final. Freddie Ang, who were the initial winner, was penalised 10 seconds for technical infringement. This relegated him to 3rd place, ahead of Calvin Siebl.

The heavy rain was effecting the early front runner like Danial Roslan and Timothy Yeo, while previous round’s winner Rahul Raj Mayer failed to finish due to a broken chain.

At the start of the Final race, disaster struck pole sitter Gilbert when his kart’s chain broke on the formation lap. This cleared a path for Freddie to make his way to the front heading into the first corner. His lead would only last for one lap as Team IRace’s Akash overtook him and started building an unassailable lead, driving very well in the wet with very little problem.

During the race some karters were sliding in and out of the track, crashing into the tyre walls in various corners, as it goes to show how bad the condition was for the young drivers.

At the same time Akash’s teammate Rahul was flying from the start to overtake 3 karts in one move. By the end of first lap he had already made up 10 places from last position to 9th. He continued to drive aggressively despite the rain getting heavier, going faster by 1 seconds compared to other drivers. As his opponents didn’t have an answer for his pace, Rahul overtook almost all the drivers in front of him one by one, except for the leader Akash.

After a long hard race Akash finally clinched his maiden win in the Junior class, just ahead of Rahul who probably would have caught his teammate if the race was a little bit longer. And Freddie followed behind them in 3rd place.

It was a shortlived 1-2 finish for Team IRace after Rahul was relegated from 2nd place to 14th by the stewards at the end of the race. This stirred up some controversies as he was penalized with driving behaviour, which the stewards claimed was the results of banging wheels with other competitors. As it was raining heavily, almost everybody seems to touched each other’s karts during the race. So it was puzzling why the penalty being handed down, and other competitors were not penalized.

So with the results revised, Freddie was promoted to 2nd place, while Calvin Seibl step up to complete the podium.

The Senior category, the premier class of Rotax, saw Andrew Tang took the early initiative when he grabbed the chequered flag in the Pre-final. He was revelling in the wet, winning the race with a healthy 9 seconds lead over second place man Afiq Ikhwan. Mohd Sharif crossed the line in 3rd position in front of last year’s champion Mikko Nassi.

Ahead of the Final, all four leading driver chose to gamble with dry tyres as the rain subsided. But the track is still very slippery, and this soon played into the hands of the other drivers behind them who opt for wet tyres. A few corners after the rolling start, Silvano Christian leapfrogged the front runners to lead the race, followed by Ross Green, Steven Kok, James Lee and Nasri Naufal.

Nasri then slowly climbed up the ranks, showing great pace. Andrew, Afiq, Sharif and Mikko continues to struggle to keep pace with Nasri, even as they tried a different racing line looking for dry patches on the track. Mikko’s effort to salvage something from the race finally came to an end when he made a mistake on lap 9 and crashed into the tyre wall at turn 2.

On that same lap Nasri finally took the lead when he overtook Steven with a classic late braking move. Steven then try to follow him but in the end Nasri was too fast for him to catch. In the end Nasri crossed the line in first place, 6.365 seconds ahead of Steven, with Silvano Christian finished 3rd.

Here are the results from Round 2 :

Masters final

1 16 KYLE JAMES SPENCER BLOCKEY 25lap 22:51.511
2 2 RAY KONG CHUN KEAT 25lap +36.022
3 10 GARY KOH 24lap +1 Lap
4 44 FREDDY NUMAN LAWAN 24lap +15.767
5 89 GILES ELLIOTT 24lap +17.539
6 91 HILARION ANTHONY 23lap +2 Laps
Not classified

DD2 final

1 9 MIKKO NASSI 20lap 17:22.170
3 33 KELVIN CHOO KANG WOEI 20lap +8.441
4 21 MOHAMMAD AFFENDY KADRI 20lap +13.171
5 338 TANAPON NOKKAEW 20lap +27.226
6 44 FREDDY NUMAN LAWAN 20lap +49.015
Not classified

Micromax final

1 10 MUHAMMAD LUQMAN HAKIM 15lap 14:23.146
2 77 MAX FEWTRELL 15lap +0.155
3 7 BRENDAN SEIBL 15lap +13.540
4 36 GEZHA SUDIRMAN 15lap +13.712
5 11 LOW KENT JUN 15lap +15.346
6 2 MUHAMMAD AIMAN ZAFRI 15lap +22.857
7 13 ADAM MUQRI MOHD NOOR 15lap +24.393
8 27 RORY JAMES ELLIOT 15lap +31.566
9 17 JORDAN TAY TI WAN 15lap +34.195
10 8 MITCHELL CHEAH MIN JIE 15lap +36.497
11 15 JAMES PULL 15lap +38.406
12 63 GEMY FAIZY SUDIRMAN 15lap +49.868
14 99 FARIS ANWAR REDZA 15lap +59.102
Not classified

Junior final

1 29 AKASH NEIL NANDY 20lap 21:34.236
2 9 FREDDIE ANG DING YU 20lap +5.012
3 3 CALVIN SEIBL 20lap +9.195
5 8 EITA SHIMIZU 20lap +11.444
6 22 JAZLEE IRFAN SHAH 20lap +13.564
7 38 BRANDON LEE ZHON WEI 20lap +21.263
8 39 MUHAMMAD DANIAL 20lap +26.731
9 28 DANIAL RAO 20lap +29.039
10 7 NIK AZRI SYAZWI NIK HAMDAN 20lap +31.324
11 333 DANIEL WOODROOF 20lap +34.777
12 222 LONG MOHAMAD NOR ARIFF 20lap +36.473
13 97 SUHAIZARUL SUHAIZAT 20lap +37.473
14 2 RAHUL RAJ MAYER 20lap +41.023
15 666 INDRA MUZAFFAR 20lap +44.302
16 1 MUHAMMAD NAJIB ZAFRI 19lap +1 Lap
17 0 XEKIN ZUNIGA CHIAM 19lap +0.858
18 5 BRENDAN PAUL ANTHONY 19lap +46.224
Not classified

Senior final

1 186 MOHD NASRI NAUFAL BIN NASIR 25lap 26:30.991
2 38 STEVEN KOK CHOW SEONG 25lap +6.365
3 351 SILVANO CHRISTIAN 25lap +10.415
4 8 JAMES LEE KENG CHEONG 25lap +13.519
5 33 ROSS GREEN 25lap +15.578
6 12 SYAFIQ ALI 25lap +26.194
7 3 ANDREW TANG 25lap +36.257
8 88 MOHAMMAD SHARIF 25lap +42.743
9 110 MOHAMMAD AFIQ IKHWAN 25lap +1:06.078
10 48 JACK MCGREGOR 24lap +1 Lap
11 22 TAN WEI RON 24lap +0.971
12 714 JULIEN FONG WEI JIE 24lap +4.089
13 007 CHANG MUN SHIEN 24lap +4.164
14 338 TANAPON NOKKAEW 24lap +24.745
15 23 ANG KOK WEE 24lap +38.671
16 77 JOHAN BIN ADZMI 23lap +2 Laps
17 66 SHIRLEY WONG SIEW YEN 22lap +3 Laps

Photo / Editorial : Nazim Idris

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