The Royal Pahang Kart Prix – 5th round of the Rotax Max Challenge Asia & Malaysia series was held last weekend in Pekan. The updated championship standings are now available for download.
The event attracted an impressive amount of entries, with a fair few drivers new to the series, and a fair few returning drivers, such as 2011 Rotax Malaysia Senior champion Farriz Fauzy. The DD2 category had its highest entries of the season, and Juniors and Seniors were at 26 and 24 drivers respectively.
Full race results are on Mylaps HERE.
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The Royal Pahang Kart Prix was the 5th round of the Rotax Max Challenge Asia & Malaysia series, held last weekend at the Taman Tasik Sultan Abu BakarCircuit in Pekan, Pahang, Malaysia. Other than a few of the qualifying sessions the weekend’s racing was held in dry conditions. Zahir Ali overcame difficulties to win in the Senior categoy, while Daniel Woodroof took first place in Juniors, Mikko Nassi made it a clean sweep in DD2, and Presley Martono got his first win this year in MicroMax.
With just one more round remaining after Pahang, the championship order was mixed around, most notably in the Senior category where Zahir Ali regained the championship lead after losing it a round earlier to Silvano Christian of Stratos Motorsports.
Indonesian driver Zahir Ali of Prodigy racing was on a mission to wrestle back the Senior championship lead he lost to his countryman Silvano Christian at the previous round, but was dealt an early blow with the wrong tyre decision in qualifying. Zahir along with a handful of other drivers chose slicks in the hope that the track would dry quickly enough. The decision was close, as the fastest time on slicks was set by Thai driver Tanapon Nokkaew, and was only a second off pole (17th place). Zahir was only 18th, while his two main championship rivals Senna SN and Silvano took the front row.
Silvano took the heat wins ahead of Senna SN, but the real drama took place on the final lap of the pre-final as Senna SN had the lead, and Silvano went for an overtaking move only to make contact with Senna and crash and retire from the race, losing vital championship points, and seeing him start the final in 23rd place. Senna said he didn’t see Silvano until it was too late. “I made a mistake. I should’ve stayed in 2nd and waited for the final to take the lead again.” Meanwhile Zahir Ali had worked his way up to 6th and 8th in the heats and all the way up to 2nd in the pre-final, setting himself up for the win in the final.
The final had Zahir take the lead off the start. “I tried to make a gap to Senna while remaining defensive into the main overtaking spot, but after a few laps of trying I hadn’t built a gap, and Senna got past.” Yoshito Matsumoto held 3rd early in the race, but had the spot taken by another Japanese driver, Teruhisa Tanaka – who remained in 3rd to the end of the race almost within striking distance to the front two. With 9 laps to go Zahir made his move on Senna and was able to build a small gap, which closed right back up again because of a backmarker, but Zahir held on to take the win along with the championship lead. Silvano made an incredible charge through the field starting from 23rd, and despite a very slow first lap he finished in 4th place just 3 seconds adrift of the leading trio.
In the Juniors qualifying also had a few drivers choose the wrong tyres on a drying track; most notably championship leader Syazwan used wet tyres, resulting in 16th place on the grid out of 26 drivers. 16th was also where he finished the pre-final after contact on lap 3 from 3rd place. His main championship rival Daim Hishammudin took 1st place and maximum points in the pre-final after 5th in qualifying, and in the final finished 2nd to close within striking distance in the championship standings ahead of the final round. Daniel Woodroof took the lead early in the final when Mitchell Cheah and Daim made contact, dropping them a few kart-lenghts behind and out of contention for the win as Woodroof powered away. Syazwan was in damage control mode and salvaged a 6th place in the final. Low Kent Jun took 3rd place ahead of Mitchell Cheah and Timothy Yeo.
In DD2 Mikko Nassi of Stratos Motorsports was in control all weekend on his Haase with pole position in wet conditions and first in the heats, pre-final, and final having lead all races from lights to flag. “It was great to have a perfect weekend after a few pole positions and pre-final wins earlier in the season that didn’t convert to final wins.” The battle for 2nd was between Mithun Ganatra and Riki Tanioka. Tanioka got the jump on Ganatra at the start of the final but soon was overtaken later on the opening lap. Ganatra held on to Nassi for a while but dropped back to a few seconds back by the end of the final.
Indonesian driver Presley Martono started the MicroMax final in 2nd behind compatriot Prassetyo Hardja. After finishing the pre-final just a few tenths behind Prassetyo, Presley took the lead on the 2nd lap, and never looked back, setting fastest lap on his way to extending his lead to 3 seconds by the end of the race. Gezha Sudirman rounded up the top 3 making it 1-2-3 to Indonesia. Thai driver Jakkarin Sirinonthanawech made a lot of ground quickly in the final from his 9th place starting position making it up to 4th by the 3rd lap and got close to Sudirman but wasn’t able to put in a move.
The final round of the championship will be held at the Sepang International Karting Circuit next month.