The first two rounds of the newly established CIK/FIA Asia Zone Karting Championship went under way last Aug. 3 and 4 at the Carmona Racing Circuit. The new series aims to foster growing awareness of the sport of karting, and most especially of the tremendous talent of Southeast Asian Drivers. After Carmona, the series will have 2 rounds each in Malaysia and Indonesia. The organizers were expecting a huge turnout during the weekend. However a number of the international competitors missed the event. But those that did arrive mustered up quite a blazing challenge to our local karting heroes. There was a mix of local and international winner in the first round. Our hometown karters were at a slight disadvantage because of the high tech equipment of the Malaysian and Indonesian drivers.
In the Cadet85 division, young ace Mark Bumgarner continued to stamp his authority in the class by taking first place, 4 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. Bumgarner once again took the win in the afternoon round followed by Marty Aguilar and Buffy Laurel in second and third respectively.
In the ICA Jr. division, young lass Michelle Bumgarner definitely taught the Asian karters a few lessons as she coasted all the way to victory for both rounds with a display of incredible stamina and consistency. Matteo Guidicelli of Cebu and Ken Monzones of Tuason Racing Project both didn't finish the race, the latter blowing his engine. Indonesian Kenny Kartasasmita could only muster up a fourth place in the afternoon round.
The Formula Rotax 125 race turned out to be the highlight of the day. Malaysian Mohammed Ferhan, starting from the back of the grid, inched his way up lap by lap to overtake the leaders and eventually grabbing the victory. M&M Kart Racing's Lee Bumgarner claimed second by a hairline from Philip Alvendia of MOFO Racing, with just .2 seconds between them. The second race proved to be as exciting. Not only was a country's pride at stake but also a chance to race in South Africa for the Rotax Max World Challenge. The two contenders for that opportunity were Alvendia and JP Cariño. Going into the second round of the weekend, Cariño still had a small lead of 8 points. But Alvendia's better qualifying position gave him an edge. Ferhan once again took the win without a close competitor in sight. Alvendia placed second with Cariño only managing a 10th place, securing him of a seat in South Africa for the World Championship.
It was total domination for youngster Dado Peña of MOFO Racing on his Birel kart in the ICA division as he sweeped both rounds, edging Batsy Agabao and Mandy Borja of Team Edgesport in morning round. Tyson Sy, Arvin Drueco, and Malaysian Mohammed Roharijaz, were unable to finish the race. In afternoon round, Peña once again routed his opponents, Sy followed in second, while Ryan Francisco finished third. Borja only managed a fourth because of his seriously hurting ribs. In fact, during the race he was already on anesthesia in order to kill the pain.
In the top class Formula A division, the Filipino karters were determined to prove that they'd be competitive even without having the logistical arsenal of the Malaysian and Indonesian racers. Futura Racing's Pepon Marave made a quick offensive, charging at the lead drivers, eventually was able to take the lead in a tight right hander by exhibiting an incredibly daring overtaking maneuver on Indonesian Zahir Ali. In the start-finish straight, it seemed obvious that Marave's engine was at a slight disadvantage in terms of raw power. Ali attempted a pass right before the right hand sweeping turn one, however Marave quickly shut the door, causing Zahir to run right through the grass. As the race wore on, Marave developed some problems and was forced to relinquish his lead. Malaysian Mohammed Farriz took the lead and never looked back to make a flawless drive to the checkered flag. Marave dropped to third behind Allan Uy of MOFO Racing but diligently followed Uy and anticipated an overtaking maneuver to take second. Two unfortunate racers were Manuel Sy and Zahir who both ran into each other on turn 2 both spinning out of the race. "My exhaust pipe broke, I was really having a hard time getting ahead of the competition," said Marave after the race.
The second Formula A race was certainly a very confusing one. Ali stalled on the warm up lap,after several attempts trying to restart he was just too tired to continue and laid on the grass, with his teammates cheering from the pits for him to continue on. Going to the turn one in the first lap, Marave's front brumper came into contact with Farriz who braked dragging Marave into the turn. It caused Marave to hit Uy who was trying to make an overtaking maneuver. Uy luckily regained momentum and stayed in the top three. Unfortunately, Marave's front bumper came off when he broke free from Farriz's kart and was signaled into the pits to replace the bumper. Sy running behind Marave and thought that the marshals were signaling to him. So he followed Marave into the pits. All the other karters then followed Sy, causing a lot of confusion at the pits. One kart even rammed a mechanic in the leg head on. Throughout the confusion, Farriz was able to exit early, thereby ensuring him a victory. Uy came in second with Manuel Sy finished third. Marave, who lost a huge amount of time for his pit stop only managed a 4th.
Even though the local karters did not dominate in all the classes, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that local karters can certainly compete with the best of them. The weekend showed that although we do not have the best or the most expensive equipment that money could buy, we certainly have the talent, and more importantly, the determination to be a force in the karting realm. During the awarding ceremonies, whatever rivalries or bitter squabbles that ensured in the race were quickly forgotten. Filipinos, Americans, Europeans, Malaysians, and Indonesians alike celebrated in the success of the event. The next four rounds should prove to be exciting.