2 months after the Rotax Invitational Race 2017 was held in January, we are back with the 1st Rotax series, the Asia Max Challenge Round 1 2017, which was held at Sepang International Karting Circuit on 4th & 5th March 2017. Weather was hot and humid during the day and rain mostly in the evening. The races on Sunday started off slightly ahead of schedule to avoid the coming black clouds and the moment the last race of the day ended, rain came pouring down.
In the Micromax category, Mstr Krit Boonyang (Prodigy Racing) finally achieved his 1st place trophy in the AMC Micromax category. In the Rotax Invitational Race 2017, Krit was unfortunate to be penalised on technical grounds in the prefinal and started almost at the back of the pack but managed to bag 3rd place. This time, he set the pace for the whole weekend from the time trials to the heats and to the finals. Krit just speed off when the lights are green leaving the rest of the pack behind. It looked set for another easy win for Krit until nearing the last few remaining laps, driver Hebiete Nasen Yu (HB Karting) closed the gap to an arms length and looked set to take the 1st position away from Krit. Krit defended with Hebiete following closely and at the last lap, it looked like something might happen but Krit kept his cool and crossed the finish line. Adam Mikail (DRM Motorsports) finished 3rd. At the time trial, Adam was DQ for technical infridgement and started at the back for the heats but he managed to finished above top 6 and started 3rd in the prefinal. He managed to jumped to 2nd at the start but was unable to held on it. Aditya Wibowo (Prodigy racing), the winner of the Rotax Invitational Race 2017 under Micromax category, simply had no answer to his team mate, Krit Boonyang, and could only held on to 4th place after battling it out with the top 3 drivers. Sergio Noor finished 5th. Sergio was kinda in no man’s land as the top 4 have pulled a distance from him and he has built a gap away from the rest of the pack.
In the DD2, Prassetyo Hardja (Stratos racing) has emerged as the new DD2 champion. Prassetyo had a good start at the final and managed to sped off and build a gap away from the rest. Eshan Pieris (RL Karting) followed Prassetyo in 2nd place but was not able to do much as the gap was still too big. Senna Noor (Praga Asia) started 4th but managed to wrestled 3rd place from Silvano Christian (Riser Shadaff racing team) and proceed to catch up with the top 2 driver. Unfortunately the gap is too big and Senna’s kart doesn’t seem to have the top speed to chase up to the pole leader. In the prefinal, Senna was pushed out by Manav Sharma (IS Racing) at the start and was penalised for the incident. However Senna was able to cover ground and finished 3rd after dropping down to 6th place. Silvano finished 4th and Ariff Amran (DRM Motorsports) finished 5th in the DD2 senior category. Ariff endured a horrible weekend resulting in his chassis bent, tyre punctured and seeking medical assistance. However he refused to give up and continue to race in the final with the bent chassis and made incredible progress to secure 5th place.
In the DD2 Master and Veteran category, Riki Tanioka (DRM Motorsports) still shows he has what it takes to win even if he has joined another team. Riki won 1st in the masters category followed by Thiru Kumaran (2nd), Alan Saw (3rd), Ong Chee Mang (4th), and Lim Song Leo (5th). In the Veteran category, Eric Mancini (Elements Motorsports) looked set to grab the winner after a brilliant prefinal. However he didn’t count on HK driver Leong Pui Chiu (Advance Racing) to slip pass him at the start. Eric gave chase but was unable to do much and have to settle for 2nd place. Lee Lung Nien (7 racing) was struggling at the start, trying to find a way to get pass the other veteran drivers but instead he got further back. Slowly he regained his composure and overtake the rest and settled for 3rd place in the category. Peter Chua (Element Motorsports) finished 4th and Chris Chan (Advance Racing) another HK driver finished 5th.
Ananthorn Tangnainatchai (Thailand) won the junior max category. Previously he bagged 3rd place but never came close to 1st but it all changed at this first round of the AMC 2017. Ananthorn won the prefinal race but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Thai driver. While Ananthorn managed to grab the 1st spot from the top 2 drivers, he was pushed down to 5th in a few laps later and looked set to have a tough time chasing the top 4 drivers but surprisingly he managed to grab back the 1st place due to the fighting among the top 4 drivers and took advantage of that to bypass to the top. At the final, it was an easy race for Ananthorn as he start to build a big gap from the rest of the drivers. Muhammad Ibrahim (DRM Motorsports) clocking all sorts of best laps in all the race, didn’t have much luck and after a shakey start, settled for 2nd place. Romain Leroux (Stratos Motorsports) winner of the Rotax Invitational race 2017 junior category, finished 3rd. Both drivers have no answer to Ananthorn’s pace. Yan Chen Chou (Element Motorsports) finished 5th and Hayden Haikal (Prodigy racing) finished 7th but was promoted to 4th and 5th place respectively after driver Akmal Ashibli (Prodigy racing) and Tai Zulberti from Philippines was penalised 10 seconds for dislodged front bumper.
Izzat Hanif ruled the Senior category, winning all the races from time trial to the final. Barrichello Noor, winner of the Rotax Invitational Race 2017 senior category, can’t find the pace to match Izzat throughout the whole weekend. Taiwan driver Ting Hau Shiu finished 3rd after a brief battle with Indonesian driver Akhmad Gunadi which dropped him to 4th. Timothy Yeo (Praga Asia), having not raced in the Rotax series for sometime, made a return as a senior driver for Praga Asia and won 5th place.
The series will leave Sepang behind as it heads to Speedway PLUS for Round 2 and 3 in the late April and May and come back to Sepang for the Round 4 and Round 6. Organisers of the series are trying to held the Round 5 of the AMC in a new race which is currently under construction. It will be a totally new track for all the participants. Langkawi again has been called off due to the high cost involved.