The opening round of the Rotax Asia trophy took place at the Sepang Karting Circuit in Malaysia on the 20-21st of January. The event proved as a critical test event for several competitors looking towards the Rotax Asia Festival to be held at the same track just one week later.
In the MicroMax category Felix Chang of Stratos RL dominated proceedings. The final started with a bit of a scuffle behind him, quickly resulting in a sizeable lead. One of the pre-race favorites Jamie White dropped out after his chain came off during a brief battle on the opening lap. Mason Kwong did his best to hold on to the leader, but eventually dropped to 1.7 seconds off at the end of the race. Japanese driver Kuryu Kyotake put in a solid drive to finish in 3rd place, but was disqualified post-race due to a technical infringement.
The Mini Max category consisted of 8 drivers, with John Han grabbing a decent gap after the opening lap as the drivers behind him battled. Poomsit Klombunjong kept the gap to 1 second at the finish, almost matching Han’s fastest lap of the race. Poomsit’s pace in the final wasn’t a match to the winner’s, with the eventual gap extending to almost 5 seconds. An early threat for 2nd place from Peerapongpan Sutumo didn’t hold, with the top 3 holding station to the end. Axle Nocom in turn held on for 4th place ahead of Patthapol Kaewanjanasat.
The Junior Max category was one of the closest contested with Toby Gale holding off a hard-charging Kunnatum Changtrakul. The lead changed hands on several occasions, and Conrad Garrow was able to stick his nose in the battle as well briefly challenging for the lead. The three finished the race spread by just 8 tenths from 1st to 3rd, with Gale ahead of Changtrakul and Garrow.
The 14-strong Senior Max field saw Armand Hamilton take the lead early from Quinten Lu and Ricky Donison. The trio started off with a gap ahead of Yu Ka Po. Donison promptly grabbed 2nd, and started to chase down the leader. The battle for the lead allowed Yu Ka Po to close in, and grab 2nd after slight contact between the leading duo.
With 8 laps remaining, Yu Ka Po put in the move to grab the lead, and never looked back. extending his lead as the drivers behind battled. Austin Gale joined the battle for 2nd, and an aggressive defensive move by Armand Hamilton that again resulted in contact with Donison allowed Gale to overtake both drivers on the penultimate lap. Gale held on to 2nd with a solid defensive drive on the final lap, followed across the line by Hamilton and Donison. Hamilton however was penalized for his aggressive move, and dropped to 6th in the results, promoting Donison back to 3rd.
The DD2 Max Masters category saw fireworks for the lead, with Pre-Final winner Scott Howard fending off Nik Iruwan. The two pulled clear of the field, and Iruwan made several attempts at the lead, defended well by Howard. A move on the final lap into the tightest part of the track resulted in contact, and the lead for Iruwan. A visibly and audibly upset Howard will be looking to go one better in the Rotax Asia Festival.
Watch the full race video stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyNvaill7zs
Download the full race results here: https://getraceresults.com/Results/organisator/2024/evenement/Asia?race=Rotax+MAX+Challenge+Asia+Trophy+2024+Round+1