The inaugural Xeramic Challenge was held at the Sepang Karting Circuit yesterday. The one-day event featured Rotax Senior, Junior, DD2 (Masters+Senior), and MicroMax categories. Kent Jun (Senior), Cao Zhuo (Junior), Arsh Johany (MicroMax), Senna Noor (DD2), and Riki Tanioka took the wins. The event provided an opportunity for teams and drivers to acquaint themselves with the 2014 Rotax regulations, and several drivers also chose to move up to their 2014 category.
The MicroMax category served up the most exciting final laps of the weekend. Alex Brown (Seven Racing/Kosmic) and Aalia Zafira (IS Racing/CRG) battled it it out for the lead changing positions several times as the lap counter was approaching zero. Unfortunately for them their battle allowed Arsh Johany (IS Racing/CRG) to close in on them after problems early in the race dropped him back. The final lap started with Alex Brown in the lead and Aalia Zaafira Tovar in 2nd. Arsh Johany overtook teammate Aalia, and then with just 3 corners to go he completed his charge back to the front by out-braking and overtaking Alex. The move allowed Aalia to get close enough for a move and she took full advantage by wrestling 2nd place away from Alex in the final corner, with the two crossing the line separated by just one tenth.
In the Junior category Cao Zhuo (Prodigy/ART) sent a message for the 2014 season by topping the results sheets in every session. He followed up his pole position (by two tenths ahead of Jon Lee) with wins in the heat and pre-final ahead of Muhammad Lukman Hakim, and a comfortable 2.8 second win ahead of Jon Lee in the final. Luqman finished in 3rd ahead of Glenn Chiam.
Low Kent Jun and Eric Louis both competed in the Rotax Junior category this year in the Rotax Max Asia Challenge, but as they’re both moving to the Senior category for 2014, they made the Xeramic Challenge their debut Senior outing. In qualifying Eric started his Senior Max debut strong with pole position ahead of Bjorn Bovim and Kent Jun, but it was Kent Jun who took control in the races. In the final Eric Louis shadowed Kent Jun all race long but was unable to make a pass stick, despite attempting a cross-over move on the last corner of the last lap. Bowim finished the final in 3rd.
In DD2 Riki Tanioka (Stratos/Formula K) set the pace for most of the day taking overall pole position, wins in heat 1 and the pre-final, but Senna Noor (IS Racing/CRG) found the pace in the final and was able to overtake Tanioka early in the race and then maintain a small gap to the end. 2013 Rotax Asia DD2 champion Melvin Moh had to settle for 3rd overall, and 2nd out of the DD2 Senior drivers. Riki Tanioka was the highest placed Masters driver putting him on the top step of the DD2 Masters podium. 2nd in masters was Kyle Blockley (4th overall), with Keifli Othman in 3rd (6th overall).
Results on mylaps: http://www.mylaps.com/en/events/981082