20 February 2012

Rotax Max Challenge 2012 (Round 1)

Rotax Max Challenge 2012 (Round 1)
18-19 February, Elite Malaysia

"Missing In Action" from the Rotax Max Challenge (RMC) for almost a year, Jon returned to the race in an upbeat mood and positive mindset. This is his first race in 2012 and also his first race in the Junior category.

The Team arrived at Elite Speedway on Friday with four sessions of testing and set-up. Jon used the first practice session to familiarize himself driving an adult kart with the Junior engine for the first time on this track. In subsequent sessions, as Jon started to bring the lap times closer to other racers, set-ups were made on the engine and kart handling. It was a hectic Friday as the mechanic has to support both Jon and his younger brother, Josh at the same time. After the practice session was completed, a debrief was done. The kart behavior was not to his liking yet as Jon felt that the back end is still too loose. At the same time, racing on a bigger and more powerful kart, with more laps comparing to his days in the cadet category, will be quite a task for Jon’s physique.

Qualifying among the full grid of 34 drivers in a mid-sized track proved to be tricky as traffic becomes a factor. With the set-up from yesterday, Jon only managed to secure 26th on the starting grid. Some slight adjustments were made before Heat 1 and Heat 2 on the rear end and Jon was able to drop his lap time by 4 tenths but still about 9 tenths from the front group. Jon had a good start in both heats as he was able to make up a few places during the early part of both races. He was able to dice and challenge the older boys while staying out of trouble, thus ending both heats at 20th and 19th respectively.

Starting from 20th in the Pre-Final, Jon managed to make up a few places but cannot maintain the pace and eventually fall back to 20th again. Just before the Final, the mechanic make a major set-up change to the axle but it proved to be heading towards the wrong direction. Jon struggled with more loss of grip at rear end but he drove his heart out to defend his position to finish the race at 22nd .
It has not been a result that the Team has hoped for but valuable experiences and understanding on what need to be improved for next race has been learnt. More importantly, Jon was not intimidated by the older boys and he was able to dice comfortably among them throughout the weekend. With one month till the next round to be held at Elite again, the Team will have the opportunity of being better prepared.

more pictures of the race can be viewed here...

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