Subang, Malaysia - [February 20th] - The opening round of the Rotax Max Challenge Asia series was held last weekend at the Speedway PLUS circuit in Subang, Malaysia. Close to 100 drivers took part in 4 categories. Indonesian drivers Zahir Ali and Gezha Sudirman took victories in the Senior and MicroMax categories respectively while Malaysians Syazwan Mohd Noor and Kelvin Choo triumphed in Junior and DD2.
Zahir Ali stamped his authority on the Senior championship with a dominant performance. He went from strength to strength and only briefly looked like he might be challenged in the 2nd heat. In the final he lead from the start and gradually extended his lead to cross the chequered flag 2 seconds ahead of Japanese driver Teruhisa Tanaka. “I had a good start but it wasn’t an easy race. I was only 1 tenth a lap faster than Teru so I had to keep my focus to the end of the race and with the heat it was tough,” commented Ali after the race.
The Junior field was incredibly evenly matched with the top 5 drivers in qualifying covered by less than a tenth. In the final the main challengers for the win were Jehan Daruvala, Syazwan Moh Noor, and Daim Hishammudin. Singaporean driver Daim started on pole put dropped to 2nd on the first lap behind Syazwan with Daruvala in 3rd. The top 3 separated themselves from the rest of the field with Syazwan keeping his cool to take the win ahead of Daim and Daruvala.
Kelvin Choo continued where he had left off in the Rotax Invitational event held in Malaysia last month. His lead was rarely challenged even though Riki Tanioka kept him on his toes by keeping within stricken distance with any mistake from Choo putting him at risk, but that mistake never came. Pole position man Mithun Ganatra finished the race in 3rd a few seconds adrift of the front two.
Gezha Sudirman surprised the rest of the cadet field after taking first in the MicroMax final. Prassetyo Hardja had been the class of the field leading. The two swapped places almost every lap in the final until lap 11 when Gezha got some breathing space as Aiman Zafri battled with Prassetyo. Prassetyo managed to take 2nd place back and closed back in on the leader but it was too late as he crossed the line just a few tenths behind the winner.
The RMC Asia series will have its 2nd round of the 6 round series next month at the same track, after which drivers will head to the Sepang circuit adjacent to the F1 track in May.
For more information on the series please visit www.rotaxasia.com