20 cars might not sound like much by previous Malaysia Championship Series standards, but they did provide us with some exciting racing in Round 1. However, the showdown in Round 2 gave us a reminder that no matter how exciting racing can be, safety should always be the top priority in this high speed sport.
Safety is Paramount in Racing
Greeted with clear skies and a bone dry track, Alif Hamdan once again rocketed through the start line to lead the field at the start. While he did clear Turn 1 with ease, the same could not be said for Leona Chin in the MTC class where she was hit by Mitchell Cheah even before she cleared the same turn.
The collision had beached her in the gravel trap, where a recovery vehicle then pulled her out back onto the track. Despite moving under their own power, both Leona and Mitchell sustained a significant amount of damage which had forced them to settle with a DNF in Race 3.
The crash also brought a change into the race as both Leona and Mitchell were leaders in their respective classes. It was less of a challenge for Chin Hwa Lip who was already leading the MTC class in Race 3 who further stretched his lead, which he then converted into a class win.
The battle for the remaining positions however were tighter where the newcomers into the class, Nurul Husna and Natasha Seatter in car #58 had to defend against the charging #5 Jazz and the #223 Vios. Even after a safety car period which bunched all the car up together, they were able to maintain their position to bring their first podium in the MTC class. Abdul Miqail and Abu Bakar came in third.
In this race, the SP2 category lost two of their competitors due to crashes, but it was the second crash that left a harsh reminder of how important safety is in motorsports. The #88 Suzuki Swift was caught in a nasty roll upon exiting Turn 6 where the car flipped for at least six times, ending with the Swift landing on its roof.
The quick-acting marshals of Sepang Circuit jumped into action immediately, making sure that the car did not caught fire as well as checking on the driver’s well-being. Fortunately, the safety equipment in the car did their job in protecting Adi Keno from getting badly injured from the roll and he only sustained cuts and bruises.
Taking over the lead from the retiring #123, the duo of Hayden Haikal and Adam Khalid was challenged by Putera Adam for the lead, but the duo managed to keep their hold on the position and won the race. The #60 DNT Tune Jazz initially fell back during the early stages to avoid the race start crash, but they managed to climb through the positions to finish on the podium.
In SP1, the intense battle went through the first half of the race until the safety car period where they were all bunched up together again. Ken Urata managed to distance himself on the restart, leaving the trio of 23 Motor’s #23, Empire M Racing’s #34 and R Engineering’s #11 to fight it out for the remaining podium places.
It was not long until the #11 FD2R was out of podium reach when the car spun at Turn 11, leaving 23 Motor and Empire M to slug it out on the final laps. The race was not over until the checkered flag flutters and with the opportunity in sight, Empire M’s FD2R overtook Abdul Kaathir-Baron Sim to finish in second place.
The Final Showdown
After the horrific #88 crash, only 19 cars were able to make it to the grid for Race 4. It was also the only chance left for Leona to bring back a podium after her race was cut short for two times in a row. Luckily this time, she managed to get a clean start which had also boosted her from P5 to P2 on the opening lap.
Luck also seemed to be on her side this time where her rival, Chin Hwa Lip was forced to retire after 9 laps. With the remaining field of MTC cars stuck behind the SP2 field, Leona took a comfortable win in Race 4.
After missing the podium in Race 3, Roni Risman and Saifulnizam redeemed themselves in Race 4 where they brought home the #5 Honda Fit to finish in second place. Husna and Natasha definitely performed better in MTC where they took third place, securing another podium finish for this outing.
In SP2, it was a tough race ahead of Mitchell and Ady where they had to start the race from the back of the grid after Race 3’s DNF. However, this hurdle did little to affect their race as they steadily climbed up the ranks to reach P2 in class by Lap 10. The duo of Adam Khalid and Hayden Haikal however were the untouchables where they commandeered their #85 Honda Fit to bring home another win.
As impressive as Mitchell’s and Ady’s drive in Race 4, unfortunately they could not keep their P2 where they were slapped with a technical infringement which led to their exclusion from the race. This had promoted Putera Adam from P3 to P2, and Eddie Lew-William Ho to the final podium spot.
Do not let the four-car lineup fool you as SP1 packed drama from the start to the end. On the early stages, a tight battle between #23 23 Motors and #34 Empire M Racing saw the latter taking the lead in class. Ken Urata and Chiow Teck Song were also involved in a thrilling dogfight which saw them swapping places in a number of occasions.
As Chiow aggressively defended his position against Ken, he had to concede on the final laps where Ken managed to overtake him. With #23 falling back in the race, Shazull Hisham and Syahrizal took the SP1 win, followed by Ken in second place, and Chiow collects his third podium finish.
In this race, Lai Wee Sing also took part in the race where he drove the first stint in the Honda Civic FC. Passing the baton to Alif, he then continued the charge to take the R Engineering car across the finish line after 23 laps.
The checkered flag on Race 4 marks the end of the first double header in the 2021 MCS season. The next double header will be on 14 - 16 December 2021, which will also be on a weekday.