Round 2 Asia Max Challenge. Elite USJ. 2017

Round 2 Asia Max Challenge. Elite USJ. 2017

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Racing can be a bitter pill to swallow. How so? Well, when everything seems to be going alright and in the final race that determines the weekend’s winners, all hell breaks loose. This was the reality for Praga Asia in Round 2 of the Asia Max Challenge. We were quick in the heats. We always fought it out with the lead pack. But in the final, it was not meant to be.

This round, Praga Asia fielded three karts with Senna in DD2 while Timothy and James competed in the Senior category.

Senna’s weekend looked strong. Here’s how it went:

“My Qualifying was pretty good, we were 2nd only by less than 0.1s off the pole sitter.

For heat 1 we had a great race. We managed to pass the pole guy early and held the position until the chequered flag.

Heat 2 was also pretty good. We took the lead straight away from the start and kept it until the chequered flag. But the steward amazingly decided to give me a 5-position penalty for being too aggressive at the start. A new experience for me for sure.  

I started 3rd in the pre-final had a quite long battle for 2nd which allowed 1st place driver to pull away. In the end, I did not have enough time to catch him.

In the final, we had a good speed. After starting 2nd, we closely followed the 1st driver and when the tire temperature reached their optimum, I was catching up really quickly. But then the throttle cable jammed and I was forced to hit the barrier. I managed to continue, using my hands to pull the throttle, until the cable completely snapped off. I somehow found it in me to finish the race because the points were important.

Yes it was a difficult weekend for me but I’m very sure I will bounce back stronger for the next round, with an even stronger throttle cable.”

James’ weekend did not end well. Here’s how it went:

“I Qualified 6th, 0.3s behind the leader. I didn’t think too much about it, we had a whole weekend to find the extra time.

Heat 1 went well for us. Made a good start, fought it out for a bit with Alex Yoong’s son Alister before making my way up to 4th. We didn’t gain much on the lead pack as we were definitely running the wrong ratios.

Heat 2 didn’t go as well as the first heat that’s for sure. Although we made the changes to make up for our gap, I had a real rookie moment. I forgot to open up the radiator cover causing my engine to run at higher temperatures. This made my engine sluggish but just enough for me to not notice. Plus, I was fighting it out with the 4th and 5th placed drivers, causing me to forget about my temperature readings. I ended up finishing 6th.

The next day looked good with a start in 3rd place for the pre-final. We knew we had the pace to stay with the lead pack. After a good start and maintaining my 3rd place, I followed 1st and 2nd as closely as possible. However, 4th place was right behind and didn’t let me go. He eventually passed while making his way to 2nd. I finished 4th, but right behind the leaders, and far away from 5th.

The final was a hot sunny session with no rain in sight. New tires, the best setup we had up to that point, and an eager pack of racers ready to fight it out. My start was good, maintained 4th and kept a close watch on the leaders – who had gained a bit of a gap. By lap 5, I was closing in on them while they were fighting it out. My plan was to wait till about 5 laps until the end and hopefully someone takes the other out before that.

In lap 10, my chain snapped. And that was the end of my weekend. Life is a (#$$* sometimes.”

Timothy was the only Praga Asia driver to walk away with a trophy. Here’s how it went:

“The pace in qualifying was not superb as I was running a different setup.

In the heats, the engine started losing power which meant that the kart wasn't capable of being in the front pack.

On Sunday, it was decided there needed to be a change with the engine but unfortunately, it was not in time for the Pre-final.

In the final, I still faced engine problems but luckily I was able to cruise back and finish the race taking 5th place in the Malaysian Rotax Championship.

I'm very thankful for the hard work the team put in this weekend but however bad luck does strike.”

This was Timothy’s last round for Praga Asia and we would like to thank him for all that he has done on and off the circuit.

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Despite the tough reality on-track, off it was a completely different story. For Round 2, Praga Asia had the prestigious opportunity to work with TOC and their talented students. Through our new partnership with Aylezo Motorsport, TOC has also become our associate in which they help fill our karting engineer vacancies in return for real-life work experience.

We were joined by Low Siew Tim, Kenny Seow Weng Leong, Ooi Yuan Zhang, Chuah Chong Yew, Mohd Azim Ikhwan, and Abimayu Bharthy A/L Ganesan. All of whom are current TOC students undergoing their motorsport syllabus.

For a bunch of fresh faces who have never really seen or touched a go-kart other than at a fun-kart track – these guys performed as though they’ve been doing it for years. TOC must be doing something right at their campus because every one of them worked hard, smart, and efficiently. Granted they were learning on the job, every hour was a class in itself, but by Friday evening (practice started Thursday) these guys were doing engine changes with supervision. Any team would be lucky to find such capable individuals. Praga Asia just so happened to land them all.

Racing can be a bitter pill to swallow. When we’re underperforming and the results don’t represent our true abilities, racing almost seems pointless. What is man’s need for speed? Why do we have to go around in circles to prove something? Because we compete. It is in our physical nature to be the strongest, smartest, and in our case – the fastest. The fastest on our own two feet. The fastest on a horse. The fastest in a go-kart. And when we win, racing will be the sweetest part of our lives.

And then there’s Aldrin. 

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Round 1 Asia Max Challenge. Sepang. 2017

Round 1 Asia Max Challenge. Sepang. 2017

It was not the best of weekends for the team. We may have finished on the podium but not as high as we hoped. We know we could've done better. Our drivers fought hard against both the competition and changing conditions. This is the nature of motorsport. 

Senna did his best leading up to the final. But, unfortunately, it didn't go his way in the end. Here are his thoughts:

"Our Qualifying was okay. We had the speed but we got stuck in traffic which placed us 0.2s behind pole position.

In Heat One,  I was confident to get the Win and the start was really good. We moved up to 2nd right after the green light. We then slowly caught up to the leader and overtook him on the last few laps. I wasted no time and made to quick work to pull away from the pack.

Heat 2 was a little bit difficult as I was in a battle with some of the drivers and the leader had already pulled away. I did, however, manage to catch him pretty quick but not enough to get the Win so we had to settle for 2nd. I also managed to get the fastest time of the heat, roughly 0.2s ahead of the rest of the drivers.

Going into the Final day, I was filled with confidence. Starting in 2nd position, I had a great start and took the lead right after the lights off but I got pushed off in the first corner which bumped me down to 5th. To top it off, some joker overtook me and brought me off the track at the same time, which put me down even more to 7th. I didn't give up. Equipped with a great chassis and engine, I managed to catch up and overtake one by one and we finished strongly in a 3rd place - again with the fastest time.

In the Final, history repeated itself. I got pushed off and ended up in some unnecessary battle upon rejoining. All this while the leader pulled away so far that it was literally impossible to catch.

All in all, it was a great weekend despite the unlucky race but once again we proved that our Praga Dragon Evo 2017 chassis and our Rotax Engine matched perfectly. We have the speed to win, we are surely going to bounce back and take the Win in Round 2."

Timothy did not fare much better. Having to face some challenges with the changing conditions didn't make it easy for him. Here are some words from Timothy about his race:

"The kart was not at its optimum setup before qualifying, hence 7th was the best position we could achieve But 3rd to 7th place was only split by 0.2s, which did not really worry me.

A good start in heat one put me up into 5th place and the kart was consistent every lap. This allowed me to maintain my position throughout the race.

The team managed to find a quicker setup for the kart in Heat 2 which helped with the race pace and put me up into 4th place.

I started 5th in the pre-final, which is determined by the average between finishing positions in heat 1 and 2. The kart felt better but the pace was not enough to keep up with the front-runners in the race, therefore we could only manage a 4th place finish in the pre-final. 

A bad start from 4th place in the Final made me drop down to 6th. The kart felt better lap by lap but I only managed to finish 5th place in the end. 

In my opinion, the round 1 of AMC/RMC 2017 showed that Praga karts have the ability to be a true competitor. With more testing and development, the karts would be even more successful in the future."

It was another weekend of growth. This sport is such that even the most experienced of drivers and engineers will have something to learn. We will be back next round stronger and wiser. You can count on that!