As with the previous round the fourth round of the international 2015 Rotax Max Challenge Asia (RMC 2015) was held at the Speedway Plus circuit (south Kuala Lumpur) on 13th and 14th June. Due to other commitments we didn’t have time to visit for a practice weekend before the race, so it was straight into the official practice sessions on Thursday and Friday. The weather was mixed and the greasier, wetter conditions suited Kai, his pace was good over the two practice days and he also showed a marked improvement in race craft, overtaking quickly without losing time.
After two warm-up sessions in the morning qualifying began at 13:45 with Kai posting a best time of 50.048 sec on the second lap, after which he was caught up in traffic and despite a “back-off lap” couldn’t better his time, by the end of the session this placed him in 12th position and amazingly recording exactly the same time as his team mate Shahan (the timing sheet shows +0.00 sec between the two of them). Shortly after qualifying the fifth placed kart was disqualified for a technical infringement which bumped Kai up to 11th. The first four karts all recorded sub 49.70 sec laps with the fifth placed kart (Kai’s team mate Nik Zamir) 0.35 sec off the pole time, with the next 13 karts covered by 0.35 sec.
Now on the preferred side of the grid (an odd number, on the inside of the first corner) Kai knew he had a good chance of making up some places in the two heat races. Each heat race starts with the same grid (qualifying positions). In heat one there was a first corner incident which led to the retirement of Kai’s team mate Nik Zamir, this mixed the pack up, Kai worked his way to 8th before being passed by his team mate Shahan on the penultimate lap to finish 9th. In heat two Kai again made a good start moving up to 8th but was “tagged” on the second lap by another kart falling back to 11th, struggling with pace he lost another three places to finish a disappointing 14th. However things weren’t as bad as we had at first thought, because of the variance between the results from heat one and two Kai was placed 9th for the pre-final.
Sunday morning was dark, wet and blustery with everyone donning rain suits and rain tyres for the morning warm-up. The pre-final began at 10:00 with the track drier than it had been, too dry for rain tyres everyone moved to slicks (however the track was still greasy). Kai made a great start, moving up from 9th to 4th on the first lap (closely followed by his team mate Shahan who had made up no less than seven places). After the second lap Kai, Shahan and Oscar were locked in a tight (and at times nerve-racking) battle for 4th, 5th and 6th places, despite staying in front of Shahan Kai lost out on the penultimate lap and finished 6th which would be his grid position for the Final.
Kai lined up on the outside of the third row with his team mate Shahan on the inside and Oscar directly in front, the formation and start were good, Kai quickly moved to the inside to avoid any first corner trouble, as it turned out this was a very wise move. Oscar was clipped mid-corner spinning him around and he was then hit by another two karts, despite the force of the accident he was thankfully ok (see the video at the end of this article).
Kai quickly made his way to 3rd place where he stayed until lap ten when both he and his team mate Shahan were passed by the quicker kart of Afiq, Shahan took advantage of the pass to move ahead of Kai. Kai fought back and on the penultimate lap and made his way up to fourth where he finished, his highest place and first podium at RMC plus valuable points for the championship fight (he is currently 8th in the championship).