30 June –1 July, Macau
Under the sponsorship of Kartmaster Drakar Racing Team, Jon is committed and determined to compete in the entire series of the Asian Karting Open Championship (AKOC) 2012. After close to six months of anticipation, round 1 finally kicked off on 30 June in Macau with a few surprises waiting for the team. The first surprise was arriving on Thursday only to find out that no testing will be allowed on that day thus limiting track time for everyone.
The official practice on Friday took place under bright and sunny conditions with the occasional showers in the afternoon. However, the weather forecasted that Typhoon Doksuri will reach Macau either on Friday night or Saturday morning. This really worried the organizer and racers, thus prompting them to be on standby for any last-minute changes to the race schedule. Fortunately, it hit Macau on Friday night while they were asleep and the races went through with just a slight delay.
Four sessions of testing on Friday were available but Jon used two sessions to run-in his new engine. Based on the testing results, he has the pace among the top three.
On Saturday morning, the Junior Qualifying was done on a wet track and Jon managed to position himself third, behind Dharma HM and Lee Wai Chong, two very experienced and fast drivers from Indonesia and Malaysia respectively. Based on three Heats to decide the race position for the Pre-Final, Jon’s results put him second on the grid. He even managed to set the fastest time in Heat 2 while racing on a drying track. In the Pre-Final, the last race for the day, Jon was able to follow the leader and break away from the rest. He eventually came back second to collect valuable points for the championship and prepare to battle again in the Final.
Sunday weather proved to be just as unpredictable. While the mechanics are fixing up the tires at the Parc-Femme, it started raining 10 minutes before the start. This prompted all teams to switch to wets but three drivers switched back to slicks again when they noticed that the rain had stopped just three minutes before race start. They made the right choice while the rest struggled to find grip using wet tires on a drying track. Jon had a bad start as the wet tires’ pressure were set lower for them to last the entire race were not up to temperature and he dropped to seventh on the first lap . After 17 laps of struggling, he finished at sixth position. It was almost a perfect race weekend for the podium hopeful but the Final race tire choice ruined it for him. Nobody would have predicted if the rain will stop completely and it was just unlucky for Jon and the team betting on the wrong choice.
Nonetheless, we still want to say Thank You to Kartmaster Drakar Racing Team for giving Jon this great opportunity to compete overseas. This is the third time that Jon has participated in AKOC (first and second time in 2010 and 2011 respectively, both in cadet category), and his first attempt at competing in the whole series.
Jon’s pace was another surprise to everyone including Kartmaster Drakar Racing Team Principal, Roland Chong. Being the youngest driver and only his first race in the Junior AKOC category, everyone will be watching at his progress. Round 2 of AKOC will take place from 28-29 July in Philippines. This will be Jon's first visit to the Philippines and it’s going to be a very challenging race as he faces an unfamiliar environment and track layout. Hope for better luck next time!