The Asian Karting Open Championship had its traditional late start to the year with Round 1 at the Macau International Karting track this last weekend. Malaysian team Stratos Motorsports fielded two drivers in the KF2 category – Daniel Woodroof (Malaysian) and Gabriel Arcaradine (Indonesian). Daniel competed in the KF3 category last year, and although Gabriel has had previous experience in the KF2 category at AKOC, he has recently been studying in the US and has not been behind the wheel since last year. Despite this, the team was hopeful going into the weekend that both of them would put in solid results.
Macau was troubled by a typhoon on Friday night after the practice sessions, which threatened to stop proceedings. Thankfully this passed as quickly as it came and the racing managed to get underway on Saturday morning, albeit with very strange weather conditions. The Qualifying was on a very wet track, and Daniel Woodroof surprised everyone by getting pole position by over half a second, and Gabriel on his comeback to karting managed to get 5th. In a field of Asia´s best karters, this was quite a feat by both drivers.
With the weather being changeable all day Saturday, the three heats were held in varying weather conditions, but none of it fazed Daniel as he won all three convincingly. Gabriel had a tough fight in all the three heats, finishing 11th, 3rd and 3rd. All of this bode well for a good pre-final and final and the team was optimistic. But luck was not on Daniel´s side as his engine seized in the pre-final, putting him on the back of the grid for the final. Gabriel fared better, but struggled with some of the fighting in the field and finished 5th – putting him 5th on the grid for Sunday´s final.
The heats and pre-final were all held on Saturday leaving only the final on Sunday. The team made final preparations in the hope of a miracle drive from Daniel to recover from his last place position. And he did just that, coming from 24th all the way up to 7th – even at one point looking like he might get 5th and a podium position on the last lap. On his way up the field he also set the fastest lap of the race, despite being in traffic for most of the laps. Gabriel had one of the best races of his career thus far, as he battled hard to go up the order into second position. Towards the end of the race he appeared to be catching the leader as well, but there were not enough laps left for him to take the lead. But to achieve second position on his “comeback” was more than satisfactory, especially at a race of this caliber.
All in all, a good weekend for the team and we look forward to the next round of AKOC in the Philippines at the end of July.