The Asia Max Challenge Round 4 2017 was originally heading back to Elite Speedway Circuit but after was told that Shah Alam International Kart Circuit was available, the organisers decided to hold the race there. This is the 2nd time the AMC was held in Shah Alam track. Its an even playing field for all karters as it is a relatively new track to the series but there are already some drivers coming down a week before to practice. The weather didn’t spring any surprises as dark clouds were looming but the rain never came. Darrell Smith from Rotax is back again to help any karters facing issues on their engines and was a tired figure at the end of the race weekend.
Starting off with the Micromax, Nathan Hibbit won the Micromax category ahead of main rival, Krit Boonyang. Nathan didn’t have it easy despite winning all the categories up to the final on Sunday. Wherever he is, Krit is there tailing him. It would have been quite a showdown in the final but Krit’s kart fuel hose came loose and have to start from the pits. He could have rejoined the group but made the mistake to get back out when the rest of the pack are in formation. This gave Nathan the necessary gap he needed to get away from his rival and also ease the pressure off him. Kittinat Lueangarunchai at 2nd place battled with Adam Mikail at 3rd place througout the whole race but it was Kittinat that managed to grabbed on to the 2nd place and Adam was dropped to 4th. Cui Yuan Pu started at 4th managed to climb up to 3rd before dropping back to 4th after a tussle with Adam Mikail but he managed to sneak in and grabbed 3rd while Kittinat and Adam were both fighting for 2nd at the very last lap. Aditya Wibowo started 3rd but dropped further down the pack but in the end managed to secure 5th position. However during scrutineering, Kittinat was disqualified due to a post race technical infringement and Adam Mikail was punished with a 20 seconds penalty for exceeding track limit twice. Drivers Vijay Arrenda and Joaquin Garrido were promoted to 4th and 5th respectively due to the 2 drivers dropping down the group.
In the Juniors, Muhammad Ibrahim looked set to take the win this round after a fine showing in the time trial and the heats. However during the prefinal, Ibrahim had an incident with Romain Leroux right after the start into the first corner. Akmal Mohammad Ashibli started 2nd, had a great start and quickly move his kart ahead of Ibrahim, forcing Ibrahim and Romain to move away but at the first corner, both went in the same time and Romain kart hit the curb and went up slightly, touching Ibrahim’s kart and spun. Romain managed to hang on to his kart although his body was out of the kart, it looked as though Romain is surfing with the kart. Ibrahim’s kart has stopped and Romain quickly try to catch up to the rest but his kart stopped as well. With this development, Akmal was able to secure win for the prefinal and start pole at the final. Akmal has been practising a week before the race and although he was fast but Ibrahim was still much faster. The incident at the prefinal was a lucky break for Akmal. In the final, Akmal pushed himself ahead of the pack but Ibrahim and Romain already on his tail at the 4th lap of the race. Although Ibrahim was closing the gap but it was still too great for him to overtake Akmal. Akmal finished 1st, Ibrahim finished 2nd while Romain finished 3rd. Zih Han Chou the only girl in the Junior group took 4th place after a good showing during the weekend in the Praga kart. Oscar Ng took 5th place after fighting his way up from 8th place.
Rifqi Rakamulya or Raka as he commonly known at the track had a great weekend and one he will remember. Raka has come a long way when he first started racing in the senior category. The closest he gotten was 3rd place in the senior category but that Sunday, Raka proved to himself and everyone else that he is no one time fluke. At the final, Ting Shiu Hau started first but a bad start made him dropped to 5th and Arsh Johany was able to take pole position. Raka at 4th place, quickly climbed up and took the pole position from Arsh after 4 laps. It was Raka at the front, followed by Arsh and Ahmad Gunadi and it looked like it is going to stay this way until the last lap. However Ting Shiu Hau wasn’t going to give up without a fight. He dropped even further behind but slowly fought his way up and wrestled 4th place from Bradley Anthony and Lin Tsen Han. After the chequered flag, Raka won 1st, Arsh 2nd, Ahmad Gunadi 3rd, 4th Ting Shiu Hau and 5th Bradley Anthony. This is Bradley’s 3rd race in the senior and he has done really well to be fighting in the top 5 in such a short time.
Since the start of the 2017 season, Senna hasn’t found his form that made him a dominance force in the DD2 and lost a good deal of points to newcomer Prassteyo Hardja and Ehsan Pieris. However this round, Senna is back in form, but it was not as easy as before. Although Senna is fastest in the time trial, he lost both heats to Eshan and have to deal with Prassteyo tailing him behind. In the prefinal, Senna could only follow Eshan who is much faster and it looked as though Senna could concentrate on catching up to Eshan as Prassteyo started around 6th. But Prassteyo caught up with the 2 drivers after 5 laps. In the final, Senna had a much better start and managed to zoom in to take first place from Eshan. Prassteyo had to start around 5th but climbed up easily and even managed to overtake Eshan to take 2nd place. Senna had to be constantly be on his toes and can’t afford to relax as Prassteyo is inching closer and closer to him. In the end, it was Senna who took the chequered flag ahead of Prassteyo. Prassteyo finished 2nd, Eshan 3rd, Zahir Ali 4th and Manav 5th.
In the DD2 Masters category, Riki Tanioka won the DD2 Masters category and Eric Mancini won the DD2 Veteran category. Eric drove really well and there were no Hong Kong drivers to spoil his party. He stayed in the midpack away from his fellow veterans to secure his first place trophy since he started racing in the AMC DD2.
The AMC Round 5 and 6 will be held at Sepang International Karting Circuit. It will be back to a more familiar track for the experienced drivers. With the new best 5 out of 6 rounds points system, the drivers are all quite close and can’t afford to relax and more work still needed to be done all the way up to the last round.