Rok Cup International Final
14-17 October 2015, South Garda Karting Italy
After clinching the first Singapore Senior Rok DVS Championship on 11 July and waiting for three months, Jon finally departed on 12 October for the Rok Cup International Final. The flight from Singapore to Milan is close to 13 hours and excludes the journey to the South Garda Karting track located 160 km away from the airport. After settling down, Jon and his dad spent their first day driving around Italy and familiarizing the route to and from the hotel and race track.
On the morning of day-2, they visited the CRG factory with Team Principal, Lawrence. Jon’s CRG kart finally arrived at the track in the afternoon. His dad aka mechanic frantically fixed up the engine and was left with just enough time for running in the practice engine and one practice session. It was raining when they arrived so the two sessions were done on a wet set-up.
A total of 52 drivers competing in the Super Rok category using the new ROK DVS engine. Most of them are National Champions, with the majority being Europeans plus some Americans and Jon as the only Asian. The drivers were divided into two groups and Jon was in Group 1.
Wednesday, 14 Oct, It was raining the whole day again. So, all the practices were done on wet tires. The team had only 3 practice sessions and with the help from CRG technical advisor Massimo, a few minor changes were made on the kart to suit Jon’s driving style. While Jon is still learning the track, his pace was only about 0.5s from the front drivers. The last session was used to run-in the race engine but it was also done on a wet condition.
Thursday, 15 Oct – As the team headed for the track in the morning, it was looking like the first dry day since they arrived in Italy. Finally, Jon has the opportunity to try out the South Garda track on slicks but the track was still wet on his first practice. None the less, it went well for Jon as he was placed in 11th position out of 22 drivers. However, he dropped to 19th position during the second practice as the team anticipated a dry session that changed to wet again. Finally, in the Qualifying session, it was a clear dry track. Jon was eager and confident to get a good position even though this will be the first time he will be driving on slicks. Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment for the team as Jon only managed to complete a sighting lap and had to stop at the middle section of the track as the engine misfires continuously and he was forced to retire. As a result of this, Jon was placed 48 as 3 drivers were disqualified and one did not start. Upon returning to the tent, the engine was removed and checked. It was found that the kill switch wire was exposed and it contacted with the chassis thus resulting in spark cutting-off that fouled the plug.
Friday, 16 Oct – The weather suddenly turned colder and breezier but it was dry. Jon came in at 10th position during the warm up session. However, due to the poor Qualifying Practice the day before, he had to start the Qualifying Heats at the back. In the first and second Qualifying Heats, he finished at 24th and 23th positions respectively out of 35 drivers. Combining both Heats, Jon was placed 37th (out of 52) and did not make the cut as only 34 drivers were qualified to enter the Pre-Final. It was a great pity as he only missed by three positions. Nevertheless, his fighting spirit remained high as there was still hope to clinch the Bridgestone Trophy.
17 October 2015, South Garda Karting Italy
Starting from third position, Jon did not have a good start and dropped to 4th but by turn 3, he was a able to fight back and was 2nd after turn 4. At the next turn, he tried to make a move to take the lead but overshot and dropped back to 3rd again. After three more laps, Jon was able to secure second position again and he continued to chase down the race leader. But before he was able to catch the leader, on lap 11th, Jon was overtaken by the eventual winner and finally able to finish the 15 lap race in third position out of 18 drivers.
Overall, it has been a good experience even though the result was not what the team has strived for. Based on Jon’s best lap time which is just 0.5 seconds off the fastest time, if he had a proper Qualifying session and managed to enter the Pre-Finals, he would probably finished in the mid-20s position. Nevertheless, Jon was able to hone his overtaking skill and he was not intimidated by the more experienced European and American drivers.
“This is my first trip to Europe and it was a good exposure for me to compete with such a big group that are mostly Europeans. Racing on a wet track and cold weather is not something new to me as I have previously experienced that in Macau. After spending one week in Italy, I was kind of getting used to eating pizza and spaghetti every day”, said Jon.
Thanks to TP CRG for arranging the CRG kart in Italy and supporting Jon in this race.
more pictures of the race can be viewed here...
more pictures of the race can be viewed here...