It was an exciting start to the Prince Lubricants 2016 Caterham Motorsport Championship with the lead of the Supersport class dramatically changing and Fikri Rahim defending to the line for his first win.
All eyes were on guest driver David Robinson- triple Caterham champion from the UK- who stamped his authority in practice and qualifying. Was 2015 420R champion Gilbert Ang going to be able to beat him?
With a lightning start off the grid it looked like Gilbert would take the challenge to David as he won the drag to turn 1. But Gilbert’s lead was short lived as the UK champion pulled out of the slip stream down the straight to turn 4 and dived on the inside to take the lead.
David would then storm off into the distance pulling away 1.5s a lap from Gilbert who settled for second place, with 2015 420R runner-up Tan Pye Sen securing third after a scary moment around turn 15.
The true battle was in the Supersport class with Sri Lankan Shirendra Lawrence and Malcolm Chang constantly exchanging places several times each lap. Neither driver giving an inch to the other it was one of the most exciting battles we’ve seen in the championship.
Not far behind was the battle for third between Sidqi Ahmad and Fikri Rahim. With only inches in it, Fikri was foxing from behind trying to pass at every opportunity.
It wasn’t until lap 3 when Shirendra and Malcolm were bumper-to-bumper when Shirendra slid around turn 1, skillfully avoiding a complete spin, causing Malcolm having to dive on the inside. The two cars touched and stuck to each other heading into turn 2 dramatically slowing down, allowing Sidqi to make a move. But it was Fikri who was thinking fast and passed all cars far on the outside to take the Supersport lead.
Shirenedra wasn’t going to give up and drove like a man possessed to catch and pass Fikri by the end of the lap, only to have Fikri putting the pressure on him from behind.
Race two was a different story with Gilbert right on the tail of David from the start as David lead into turn one. Shirendra and Fikri had a close drag off the line only to have Sidqi squeeze through the middle of them both heading into turn one, but unable to hold position going wide.
The front battle between David and Gilbert was what we all wanted. Two champions fighting it out with only 0.300s between them.
Malcolm had a strong start and took the lead of the Supersport class from last on the grid. He had a scare at turn 15 as he locked breaks and second position Fikri took advantage with a dive on the inside, only to have Malcolm regain the lead with a great recovering exit.
Gilbert was foxing David for several laps, and got an awesome slip stream out of turn 15 on lap 4 to pull out and challenge for the lead. Crossing the line 0.018s in front, Gilbert was unable to make his move stick Gilbert had to tuck behind David in second once again but only 0.100s behind.
Another great battle in the Supersport class between Fikri and Shirendra for a few laps with Fikri winning second place with only a few laps to go.
The crowd were on their feet with excitement watching the two leaders fox each other, and at some turns were side-by-side. The 420R win was anyone’s at this stage.
With two laps to go it seemed that Gilbert had settled for second place as David pulled away with the biggest gap of the race with a 0.760s lead, and breaking the lap record for old tyres with a 2:22.290s.
It was two race wins for the multiple UK Caterham champion David Robinson.
Further down the field in the Supersport class Fikri was putting the pressure on leader Malcolm Chang when he spun at turn 8 into the marbles. He was quick to regain as third place Shirendra Lawrence was steaming towards him, but couldn’t get past having to settle for third place.
It was a fantastic start to the Prince Lubricants 2016 Caterham Motorsport Championship, with many close battles. The championships in both classes could be anyone’s.
Races 3 and 4 will be supporting the Malaysia Speed Festival on July 30th at the Sepang International Circuit.