29 November 2016

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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.

9 June 2016

A Chaotic Weekend

X30 Challenge 2016 (Round 3)
4 June 2016, KF1 Circuit

Round 3 did not turn out to be what the team anticipated at all. With good dry race pace during Friday practice sessions, Jon was in high spirit to challenge for a win. Unfortunately, it was chaos, about one hour before Qualifying session for the Seniors when it started drizzling. The mechanic set the wet tires pressure on the high side hoping that Jon will set a good time with only few laps but it was the wrong decision as he struggled for grip when the tires overheated thus qualifying at a lowly 11th position. Unknown to Jon and the mechanic, the track that looked wet was in fact drying up after the short shower. Upon returning to the pit, it was also found that the wet tires were almost destroyed.

Picture courtesy of X30 Challenge Malaysia's Facebook

Picture courtesy of X30 Challenge Malaysia's Facebook

Race 1 was held after lunchtime when the drizzling started again thus a Wet Race was declared. This put the team in a dilemma because Jon's wet tires may not last for 2 races. Eventually, the mechanic decided to use a much lower tire pressure to ensure that the tires can last for Race 2.
In Race 1, Jon can only managed to finish the race at 9th position as it was found that the left front tire has gone completely flat which was suspected due to under inflating. Luckily the track dried out in time for Race 2 and this time, all teams opted to use the slicks. Jon did not start well but he was able to carve through the field till 6th position. The front five drivers had pulled away earlier but after clearing the back pack, Jon started to catch them up. In the last few laps, there was an incident among the drivers in position third to fifth. This gave Jon the opportunity to overtake three drivers in the same lap. After that, Jon was determined to chase the front two drivers down but eventually he had to settle for 3rd as the front two drivers had gained too much during the early part of the race.

With the points from Race 1 and Race 2, Jon was declared as 4th overall for this round.

Picture courtesy of X30 Challenge Singapore's Facebook

Round 4 and 5 will be held on the same weekend on the same track but with a clockwise configuration. Even though Jon is 23 points behind the leader, the Team is not giving up yet. With a maximum of 90 points available for two rounds, anything can still happen.