22 February 2017

Latest updates...

X30 Asia Cup
18-19 February 2017, Sepang International Kart Circuit, Malaysia

The Inaugural X30 Asia Cup is being held in Sepang International Karting Circuit on the 18th and 19th February 2017. This will be the first time Jon is participating in an X30 race out of Singapore. Even though Jon raced numerous times successfully in Sepang, it was mostly on the Rotax engines. It will be a new challenge for the team to find the correct set-up for the X30 engine and Komet tires.

School ended 1230 hours for Jon on 17th February and soon he rushed to Kuala Lumpur. Upon arriving at the track, the Friday practice sessions were coming to an end and thus there was no chance for him to do any testing.

The team was only able to test for two sessions on Saturday morning as the first one was used to run-in the engine. In this X30 Asia Cup race, Jon was racing on the CRG kart. After the third session, his practices times were average by comparison to those drivers who had been testing in Sepang for the past few days. Overall, the team was optimistic as they were still learning and adapting. Qualifying went smoothly but Jon only managed to achieve position 10th. Based on information from other teams, qualifying position was no doubt important but to be able to maintain consistency on the Komet tires would be the key factor.

Starting from outside of turn one, Jon was able to gain a few places after the start in Heat 1. In Lap 2, while attempting to overtake the front driver, Jon’s kart came into contact and was bogged down thus losing back a few spots. Subsequently, he was able to climb back and finished at 7th position. Unfortunately, the earlier incident has caused his kart front bumper locking device to be dislodged. He was given a 10 seconds penalty and eventually demoted to position 20th.

Heat 2 was held on Sunday morning after one final morning practice session. The team made a few changes to the kart based on Jon’s feedback. This time, being more careful about the front bumper rule, Jon was able to finish at position 6th without much incident. Based on the points system, Jon started at position 13th in the Pre-Final. It was again a clean start and he made up a few places. He has the pace to continue charging but was climbed from the side by the kart he just overtook as he was turning in at the back straight. Jon’s kart was damaged but he still managed to continue and ended at a lowly position 16th.

The mechanic rushed profusely to repair the kart and was barely able to make it on time for the Final. Everything paid off when Jon was able to make a good start again and by lap 2 he was already in the top 10 position. All drivers were using new tires for the Final, but Jon managed to find a bit more pace than most of them. He overtook a few more drivers to arrive at 4th position and started to chase the front three drivers. Nevertheless, after 20 laps, he was only able to close in on the third placed driver but not close enough to overtake him.

Overall, with very little time to test the X30 engine and Komet tires in Sepang yet he was able to step on the podium, has been a great result. For sure, Jon will be eager to race in the X30 Challenge Rd 1 soon.

29 November 2016

STC Rok Cup 2016 (Round 5)

STC Rok Cup 2016 (Round 5)
26 November 2016, KF1 Circuit

Picture courtesy of Jon Gonzales Photography

The last and final round of the Rok cup series held at the KF1 circuit was the toughest and most competitive race to be held in Singapore, featuring prominent names such as World Karting Champion Marco Ardigo and Christian Lundgaard among others. Coupled with other drivers from Asia, it made for a strong grid of 17 drivers.

Practice on Friday did not start well and remained as such throughout with engine problems hampering progress on the chassis. At the end of the day, the engine was up and running but not at a competitive pace compared to the rest of the grid.

Moving on to race day, I was not very optimistic and felt that chances for a podium were slim with the pace I have been showing. Warm up and qualifying showed my lack of pace as I ended up in 15th, far from where I wanted to be. Quarter finals was better as I managed to avoid several crashes and made up several places, ending up in 10th. However, I was still showing a lack of pace.

However, as pre-finals was coming round the corner, the skies rained down and gave me a chance to perform as engine power was less of a factor in the wet. This gave me much needed optimism to perform. Holding true to my recent results in the wet, the pace was much better. Although it was not good enough to challenge for the win, I was still able to make up few places while avoiding incidents that happened in front of me to end up in 3rd at the end of pre-finals, a much better position than what we expected. 

With a good starting position for the finals, I was ready to perhaps challenge for the win or at least come back with a podium. Unfortunately, a lack of power from the engine played a role and I was not able to improve the pace. Despite this, I held on and managed to remain in fourth. 

Ultimately, we were satisfied with the overall result, judging by the pace I was showing in practice and qualifying, a podium position was initially ruled out. Having won the last round and racking up good points in this round, this left me 4th overall in the championship despite having only participated in two rounds.

Next year, the senior drivers will no longer race with the ROK DVS engine. I will be looking forward to racing on the ROK GP engines.

(from left) Mr Josh Hunt, Jon and  Mr Mick Panigada
Jon and Marco Ardigo

8 November 2016

STC Rok Cup 2016 (Round 4)

STC Rok Cup 2016 (Round 4)
5 November 2016, KF1 Circuit

Having missed the first three rounds of the Rok Cup due to school commitments, I was back for the fourth round as school has relaxed and there was ample time to commit to the race. It was the first time since the Rok Finals in Italy last year that I've used a dvs engine again.

It was a race with many problems and issues that we could work on.

First practice was good with minimal problems other than some minor complaints about my engine pick up. Second practice was when the problems started with the engine dying 3 laps after i went out resulting in changes made to many parts of the engine. Third and fourth practice sessions went much better with minor issues that could be resolved.

On race day, practice was wet and we used old tyres so we were quite happy with second. However, during qualifying, I made a mistake on the last lap of the session in which the track was drying up. This resulted in another competitor making 6 tenths on the last lap to take pole.

Quarterfinals was decent as I managed to hit the front from the first lap and pull out a good gap, allowing me to cruise to the end. When we got to the Pre-finals, it did not start well as the kart would not start at the hold up. Thankfully after many changes by the team the engine did finally start and we got to the grid within minutes of the start. The race itself did not start well also as I dropped to second by the first corner but managed to regain the lead during the same lap. However, issues with the engine and a lack of aggression meant the chasing pack caught up and I had to defend for the remaining laps. I ended up finishing in third which was not ideal.

In the finals, the start was good as I managed to gain a position while trailing the leader. The engine was really tuned in and the kart felt good so I managed to reel him in and made the move on lap 12 (I think). After that it was just building a gap in between. On the second last lap, the second driver tried a move from a far way back but out-braked himself resulting in a collision which fortunately, I managed to get away from. This left me with a comfortable gap to second, allowing me to cruise to victory.

Big thanks to my dad and the whole of Energy Corse Asia for providing me with an amazing package to race with. Also not forgetting Team Principal, Mr Josh Hunt for giving me valuable tips on where to improve my driving. While there were many unforeseen problems, we managed to pull through and it was a great result for us in the finals.