As talks between the organisers and the Shah Alam state council has broken down, the 5th Round of the Rotax Asia Challenge was held back in Elite Speedway Circuit as the next back up venue. The race was changed to Ray Kong Memorial Race as a tribute to Ray Kong, a strong supporter of the Rotax series, who passed away on the 5th June 2016 in a karting race event. Attendance was low for this round as it clashes with the Formula 4 SEA series on the same weekend. Furthermore, 5 drivers from China and India were unable to come race due to visa issues.
In the Micromax category, Amer Harris finally got his first place podium win after struggling for over 4 rounds. Amer Harris nemesis, Dylan Bondi, was not able to participate as he has moved back to the UK with his family, thus leaving the door open to Amer to bag his first maiden finish. His strongest challenge comes from Hayden Haikal but even he couldn’t prevent Amer was speeding away to take the win. Amer Harris topped all the category from the time trial all the way up to the prefinal. In the prefinal, he was DQ for a post race technical infringement and was put right at the back of the pack in the final. In the final, Hayden Haikal started from 1st, wasted no time and pushed himself away from the pack. However Amer Harris having the experience and speed was able to catch up with the top 5 of the pack. Shahan Ali, winner of the AMC Round 3, couldn’t keep up with the rest as he was using the old spare chassis from Round 4. However, it was enough to win him 5th place. The top 4 fought it out with Amer Harris but eventually Amer regained his spot at the top and bagged first place. Hayden Haikal has to settled for 2nd, Adam Mikail 3rd, Aditya Wibowo 4th and Shahan Ali 5th.
In the Junior category, it looked like the Stratos Motorsports drivers, Romain Leroux and Prassetyo Hardja, would repeat their last round performance by finishing 1-2 again after they got 1st and 2nd in the time trial. But this time it was not that easy as before. While Prassetyo has managed to stay above of the pack and finished first in all the heats, Romain was knocked back down the pack. In the final, Prassetyo started well but Arsh Johany was able to wrestled the top spot from him for one lap before Prassetyo win it back and kept Arsh Johany at bay. Kane Shepherd who started 3rd in the final made his move on Arsh Johany and was able to overtake him on the 17th lap. Even then, Arsh Johany didn’t get a break as Taiwanese Shiu Ting Hau, also made his move and overtook him on the 19th lap. However on the last lap, Arsh Johany made his move count and wrestled back his 3rd spot from Shiu. Romain who started 7th on the final, managed to move up to 6th. With all the fighting between the 2nd to 4th, Prassetyo managed to pull away and take home the chequered flag. Kane finished 2nd, Arsh 3rd, Amirul Haikal 4th and Shiu Ting Hau 5th. Unfortunately, Kane Shepherd and Shiu Ting Hau got DQ for a post race technical infringement. Which means Arsh Johany got promoted to 2nd, Amirul Haikal 3rd, Romain Leroux 4th and Lin Tsen Han 5th. This is a blow to Kane Shepherd as he is currently leading the overall championship. Both drivers, Kane Shepherd and Shiu Ting Hau has submitted their appeals to Rotax on this matter . If the appeals goes through, Kane Shepherd would get back his points for the final and regain top spot in the overall championship but at the moment, the top spot is occupied by Prassetyo.
The senior category was greatly affected by the low entries as there are only 5 drivers on the grid. Ricky Donison started first in the Heat 1 but as the race went on, all the other drivers pulled into the pitstop and soon Ricky also went in. This resulted in all drivers didn’t cross the chequered flag and got a DNF. Heat 2 was abandoned after discussion with some of the teams and the race would only continue for drivers in the prefinals based on their heat 1 timing. At the start of the prefinal, Ricky Donison was leading the race but Silvano was following closely behind and by the 7th lap, Silvano overtook Donison and pretty much held on until the end. Silvano’s team mate, Rakamulya, started 3rd but was quickly overtaken by 7 racing’s drivers, Gabriella Teo and Darryl Wenas. In the final, Silvano was leading the race until lap 6, when Donison managed to pull off an overtaking move and gained the lead. However it was easily won back by Silvano and for the whole race, it remained that way. Silvano had abit of an edge as he just got a new kart compared to his one year old plus kart that he was previously using. With the win, Silvano is still leading the championship but Ricky Donison is just a few points behind. The championship can still go either way for both.
Senna Noor continued his fine run in the DD2, again dominating the time trial, heats and finals. Senna has settled into his new Praga DD2 kart and wasted no time to defend his championship from the rest. This race, he was constantly tailed by Nayan Chatterjee, who won 5th in the Round 4. Eshan Pieris who got 3rd, had a horrid time in the heats as he finished last and a DNF. He started right at the back of the grid but as the race went underway, he was making progress and started to push up along the pack. He bagged the fastest lap in both prefinal and final. Soon he was behind Nayan Chatterjee but he didn’t make any attempts to overtake. In the end, Senna managed to held on his position and bagged first, Nayan Chatterjee got 2nd and Eshan got 3rd, Ariff Amran 4th and Brendan Anthony 5th. In the masters category, Riki Tanioka crossed the finish line first but he was later DQ for a post race technical infringement. It was a good thing he has been constantly winning for the past 4 rounds as he is still leading the championship even with the penalty given. However he would now have to win the last round in Sepang to fully secure his championship.
The last round of the season will be held in Sepang International Karting Circuit on 3rd and 4th September. While the season is drawing to a close, there is no clear winner yet in all categories as It can be anyone’s game except in the DD2. Senna has did well by winning all the prefinals and finals to gain maximum points but with drivers like Nayan Chatterjee and Eshan Pieris trailing closely behind, Senna could not afford to relax yet and work harder to ensure his championship is safe.