BANGALORE: Sahara Force India winner of “One from a Billion” contest, Arjun Maini continued his victory spree by winning the Rotax Invitational Karting Race held at the Speedway Plus track at Elite in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The race, regarded to be the largest in Asia, had a grid of 33 karts comprising of the best drivers in the Junior Max Category (13 to 16 years) from across Asia including Japan, Thailand, Singapore, India and Malaysia.
Arjun was very quick the entire weekend and had qualified second on Saturday with a time of 43.239 secs. The first heat, which was run over 15 laps, saw Arjun finish second in a tough race behind Marino Sato of Japan, who had qualified on pole position.
In the second heats, over 15 laps, Arjun had a bad start and fell back to ninth place. He stabilised himself and then started to overtake and regain positions. Through some excellent moves, Arjun fought his way back and finished fifth. The points from both his heats meant that Arjun had to start from fourth on the grid for the prefinal race over 20 laps.
Once again Arjun lost some valuable places at the start but fought back. Since this was a much longer race and Arjun had the pace, he slowly and steadily made his way back and finished a close second to Daim of Singapore but managed to post the fastest lap of 43.396 on lap 7 which showed that Arjun had the pace to win.
Arjun started the final in second position but made a brilliant start. He overtook Daim from the outside on the first corner and moved into the lead. For five to six laps he was leading the race when Daim then made a move on Arjun.
Arjun and Daim were the quickest drivers and were pulling away initially from the rest. However, the very close karting between the two allowed the 3rd and 4th drivers to close up on them. Soon after Arjun found himself in the third place with Daim leading the Race. With five laps to go, Arjun was second and started closing in on Daim lap by lap. With 2 laps to go, he was tailing Daim’s Kart closely and made a brilliant move halfway during the final lap.
Daim then overtook him at the next corner and Arjun dived into the inside of the second last corner which enabled him to get ahead before the last corner and ultimately win the race in a total time of 14 minutes and 44 seconds covering a race distance of 19 kms.
Arjun was extremely thrilled with the victory as it was the first win in such a large event. “I am very happy to have won as I have been working very hard over the last few years and it feels good when you have won amongst the best drivers from Asia. This win has boosted my confidence and I feel much more comfortable to race in Europe this year,” said a delighted Arjun.
Arjun now has a comfortable lead in the Rotax Invitational Championship, which is proposed to be held over four rounds in four different countries across Asia as the points from both prefinals and finals are counted.
Arjun’s younger brother, Kush Maini also drove well and came third in the final of the Micromax category (ages 8 to 12). He started the final race fourth on the grid and after a tough fight, finished right behind second placed Perdana from Indonesia. The Miromax category had 15 drivers from Asia and is considered a large grid across Asia for this category.
Kush had qualified sixth and had to work his way up, which he did by coming fourth in the prefinal race after the first two heats gave him a grid position of sixth. “I am happy with my performance and I hope to do better next time,” said Kush.