Rotax Max Race 2013 - Round 5
9-11 August 2013, Japan
After racing for more than five years in the competitive "Asia Max Challenge" (AMC) in different parts of Malaysia, we felt that it's time to let Jon experience the "Rotax Max Race" (RMR) in Japan using the same Rotax engine. After all, the Rotax engine was the first engine Jon was exposed to at the age of seven. Therefore, it is no stranger to him and his dad aka mechanic.
There are a total of 26 racers in the Junior max category, with three from China, one from Korea and Jon as the only racer from Singapore. The rest are Japanese drivers competing in round 5 of RMR held on the Suzuka Circuit.
Tough racing awaits Jon as it was an extremely hot summer in Suzuka with the ambience temperature hitting 40 degree Celsius and coupled with a competitive field of drivers in the Junior Max category with familiar winners like Sena Sakaguchi and Shogo Endo. The race format in RMR, Japan consists of one Qualifying Time Trial, one Qualifying Race and a Final, all in Sunday.
In the Time Trial, Jon put up his best even though he was impeded by a slower driver for a few laps and managed to get one clear lap to place himself 16th among 26 drivers. Not a bad effort considering his first race in Suzuka and he was still getting used to the MOJO D1 tires which has lower grip than the D2 used in AMC. In the Qualifying Race, Jon had a clean start and he had the opportunity to chase the leading pack for a while but soon he was battling with the chasing pack also. Eventually, he managed to improve his position to 13th.
The Final was held at a time when the track is probably on its hottest condition. It was a good start for Jon as the front group bunched up at turn one and he managed to overtake several drivers. As he slowed down to position himself into 8th or 9th placing, the kart from behind rammed onto Jon’s right side. The impact dislodged the rear bumper and damaged the radiator. After the crash, both karts were still stuck together for about 10 seconds. Eventually Jon managed to free the kart but the radiator is already leaking thus forcing Jon to retire immediately.
It was a shame that Jon was not able to finish his first race in Japan regardless of which position he may eventually ended up with. Nevertheless, racing in Japan has given him more exposure and experience. For sure the team will do another Japan race again in the near future. Besides that, this trip has given Jon a great opportunity to catch up with his acquaintance from Japan, Ryuta Ueda. They first met and raced in the All Stars Karting 2011.
Good luck to all the Victorians!
More pictures of the race can be viewed here... (Jon's Photo Gallery)