18 March 2015

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Asia Max Challenge

After just three years in the Junior category, Jon is progressing to the Senior category this year as he turns 16 years old. He kick-starts his first Senior race in the Asia Max Challenge (AMC) held from 14 to 15 March at the Sepang International Kart Circuit (Sepang) with a brand new CRG chassis and race suit. Jon had to quickly get accustomed to his new chassis while his mechanic aka dad worked on tuning the kart to best suit the ever-changing track conditions. A total of 20 drivers from seven different countries competed in the Senior category. 

Jon arrived in Sepang on Thursday morning and promptly had his seating position set on the new CRG kart. Soon after that, he started making a few short runs on the track to get accustomed with the new kart and the two newly rebuilt senior engines converted from the junior engines. The mechanic did not do much race set-up on Thursday, just trying out some basic adjustments.

On Friday, various race set-up were conducted. New tires were used to gauge his pace which seems to be quite reasonable, fast enough to be in the top ten position. Late evening, a final set-up change was done to prepare for Saturday practice runs before Qualifying.

Saturday started with 2 practice sessions which ended with more data for the team to analyse. Just before Qualifying, changes were still being made to anticipate the ever changing track conditions. It turned out to be the wrong move as Jon’s lost his earlier pace by almost 8 tenths thus resulting him to qualify at position 19th. Nevertheless, Jon was able to finish both heats at 12th position.

Anticipating further track condition changes, the team decided to make more changes to be tested on Sun morning. Warm up session ended with a positive note considering the test was done on old tires. In the Pre-Final, the result turned out to be worse than expected. Jon lost his pace again thus dropping him to 16th position. The Final was held in the hot afternoon after lunch hour. The team discussed on the final set-up change and decided to go for the same direction as previous set-up. This proved to be the wrong direction again as Jon suffered severe under steer. Besides that, a bad start that dropped him to the back of the grid also make it difficult for him to chase the pack thus ending his race at 15th position. Not an ideal result but still proud that he came back top among the four experienced karters from Singapore. 

Round 2 of AMC will take place at Sepang again from 18-19 April 2015. With a better understanding of the CRG kart, for sure the team will be aiming a much better result.

17 March 2015

SMSA Annual Awards Night

SMSA Annual Awards Night
27 February 2015, Republic of Singapore Yacht Club

Invitation Letter - look carefully and you will notice the karter in the background is Jon.
Republic of Singapore Yacht Club.

Jon receiving his SKC 2014 overall championship award from Mr Kenneth Wong (VP, Karting Sport).

Jon and Kartmaster Drakar's team principal and members.

8 December 2014

A One-day Practice on the AsiaCup Single Seater Car

A One-day Practice on the AsiaCup Single Seater Car
1 December 2014, Sepang International Circuit

“The AsiaCup is a FiA designated “International” motorsport series, designed to provide a platform to transition from karting to formula motorsport without a huge financial burden on our racers and their families. The drivers will experience professional motor race engineering services from the multi-championship winning Meritus.GP and of course, the Sepang F1 Super Circuit is steeped in F1 heritage.”
The BMW-powered FB02 that complies with all FiA crash test requirements to the highest possible safety standards, providing equal opportunity for all competitors, ensuring that the ability of the driver is the heart of the competition.” 
– extracts from www.meritus.gp

Indeed, with Jon turning 15 in July this year and graduating from karting, junior category at the end of the year, we decided to let him experience a one-day AsiaCup paid practice, on 1 December 2014. Preparations before the practice included buying a new set of nomex socks, inner wear, shoes and gloves. In addition, an FIA approved race helmet with HANS clips is also required. Coincidentally, his dad’s GP5 helmet fit him nicely and also comes equipped with the HANS clips.

Jon arrived at Sepang International Circuit a day earlier on 30 November afternoon to mold the seat according to his body frame and seating position, try out the fire proof suit loaned from the organizer as well as attending a briefing.

There are four practice sessions on 1 December, with each session lasting about 55 minutes. The weather was good and at the start of each session, all the cars were lined up outside the pit, ready for Jon to begin his practice along with 6 other drivers. This will be his first time driving a single seater race car and driving on the Sepang International Circuit. During the first session, Jon ran wide at one of the fast sweeping corner and ended in the gravel. Upon understanding the limits of the car and familiarizing with the track, Jon was able to improve his driving step by step.

He also ended the second session with blisters on his right palm from the continuous hard shifting of the gear lever. Thereafter, the mechanic added paddings to the shifting knob and Jon was able to concentrate and improve on each session.
From the first session till the forth, Jon was able to better his lap times by more than 8 seconds and was just about 2 seconds away from the other experienced drivers participating in the test.

“The experience is totally different from driving a go-kart. Driving the BMW FB02 on the straights can reach up to 190 km per hour compared to the fastest speed of about 120 km per hour on a go-kart. In addition, the straps are really tight, which restricted my movement and makes it hard to make turns on the corners. Nevertheless, it was a great experience that I truly enjoyed it. Now I can understand the difference of driving a race car with suspensions as compared to a race kart”, said Jon.

We are now considering letting Jon try the AsiaCup in 2015, which usually takes place in the middle of the year. Stay tuned!

more pictures of the practice can be viewed here (30 Nov) and here (1 Dec)