IKATAN MOTOR INDONESIA The third stop of the 2017 Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition (AAGC) that took place on October 28th and 29th in Taiwan has concluded successfully. Drivers from 13 countries in the Asian Zone participated in this event and competed with their maneuvering skills. The event saw stellar performances by Taiwanese drivers in qualify, solo competition, team competition and theunique “doubles competition;”they managed to keepa total of 8 trophies on the island.
Taiwanese drivers demonstrated home advantage from the onset, taking five places out of the top six in qualify (the other one went to MILO RIVERA from the Philippines), setting the stage for a sweeping victory in both solo and team competition that followed.
In the solo knockout that took place in the evening of the 28th, most Taiwanese drivers made it through the first round. After 12 years, veteran Taiwanese driver SHU-MING ZHANG was once again matched against Japan’s legendary TETSUYA YAMANO, to whom he lost by a mere 0.352 second. This gave YAMANO- who was put in a disadvantaged position due to mechanic issues in the qualify- a chance for what would turn out to be an epic comeback.
During the quarterfinals, Taiwan secured two seats in the semifinals with KUN-YAO TSENG defeating India’s ACHINTYA MEHROTRA and NAI-CHI CHEN overtaking RIVERA with a record 43.175 sec, while Philippine’s veteran driver CARLOS ANTON lost to Indonesia’s DEMAS AGIL by only 0.519 sec. This resulted in the first time that Team Philippines, which has dominated international gymkhana events in the past two years, would not be on the award podium for solo championship. The last ticket to the semifinal went to Japan’s YAMANO, who as matched against Taiwan’s top driverDAVID RYOand still managed to win with a record42.992 sec.
The rest of the night saw a relay of record-breaking races between top drivers in the semifinals and final: TSENG beat CHENwith 42.902 sec, which was soon surpassed by AGIL’s 42.702 sec, and yet again by YAMANO’s 42.393 sec. In a tight match for the third place, CHEN secured a trophy for Taiwan with a 0.041 sec lead over AGIL. In the final, ZENG first pushed the record further to 42.293 sec. Under enormous pressure, YAMANO once again broke the record with 42.041 sec, taking home the champion while TSENG took second place.
In the team championship that began in the afternoon of the 29th, all four teams from Taiwan made it into the quarterfinals, while pre-game favorite Team Japan and Team Philippines was matched against each other upfront. Japan won by 0.303 sec, but was later knocked out in the quarterfinal bythe two young Indonesian drivers. Due to the AAGC regulation that only one team from each country can compete in the semifinals, CHEN and LIANG-CHEN CHOU of Taiwan Team A, which had the best record of all teams from Taiwan, along with Team Indonesia and Team Sri Lanka and Team Macau entered the semifinals; the latter two teams were bumped up in proper order.
Without much surprise, Team Taiwan and Team Indonesia made it into the championship. CHEN first lead AGIL by 1.253 sec, followed byhis teammate ZHOU whocompleted the course smoothly but missed a cone by mistake, thus handing over the champion to Indonesia and earning Taiwan second place. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka took the podium for the first time for coming in third, aided by dark horse driver IRSHAD FAHAM.
The day finished with the much-anticipated “doubles competition,” an original event created by Dr. KWONG-WING YEUNG of CTMSA.Gymkhana events have traditionally stressed individual driver’s maneuvering skills by allowing one car to race at a time, which can be rather monotonous from a spectator’s point of view. The audience engagement was improved with the introduction of dual-tracks, where two cars race alongside one another. In order to further encourage team morale and fuel excitement among the drivers as well as the audience, Dr. YEUNG- after years of experiences and experimentations- introduced for the first time a new variety of gymkhana event, the doubles competition, in which two cars from the same team set out one right after another; the second car would tag along the first until the last turnabout, where the first car concedes the route for the second car to make the final sprint. A team’s final time is recorded as the time the first car sets out until the time the second car reaches the finish line.
Given the different race format, the route for doubles competition was only slightly different from that of team competition, allowing drivers to quickly zone in. The top-eight countries in qualify were matched up in PK pairs. Taiwan was represented by RYO and TSENG of Taiwan Team C, which entered the event as first place in doubles qualify, alongside other pre-game favorites such as Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.
In the semifinal between Taiwan and Indonesia, Taiwan lagged behind by 0.412 sec after the first round, but after changing the order of drivers in the second round, it beat Indonesia by 1.061 sec, securing a place in the final, where it would compete against the Philippines, which defeated Japan by small margins in both rounds. The competition for the third place saw Team Indonesia growing more fierce as the night grew late, breaking the record for doubles competition with 42.962 sec, defeating Japan by0.291 sec.
Bearing tremendous pressure as the first to go, Team Taiwan ended up with a total time of 88.048 sec after two rounds. This meant that the Philippines needed only to make it within 44.995 sec in the second round to take home the champion, which was not unlikely given that the average time for Team Philippines was around 43 sec. The crowd held their breath in eager anticipation.
As Team Philippines set out, it made a minor mistake at a turnabout, but managed to keep pace and proceeded smoothly until the last turnabout, where veteran driver CARLOS made a slightly larger trajectory during his final sprint, and ended up with a final time of 45.054 sec. Winning bya narrow margin of 0.059 sec,Taiwan’s ZENG and RYO brought home the first international gymkhana champion, and were celebrated by their peers and an overjoyed audience.
The success of the 2017 AAGC in Taiwan takes the championship one step closer to becoming listed as an official regional event by the FIA. Although motorsports development in Taiwan faces many limitations, it does not necessarily have to go by international precedents. With creativity and careful execution, Taiwan is in good place to contribute to international motorsports and to play a key role in setting the rules of the games, as manifested by the enthusiastic reception of the doubles competition by international participants. Gymkhana legends YAMANO and MASAKI NISHIHARA from Japan said that this form of racing, though maybe difficult for beginners, poses greater challenge to drivers’ techniques and on-the-spot coordination skills; they have suggested the JAF to include doubles competition in national championship. ANTON and RIVERA from the Philippines liked the fact that doubles competition enhances the interaction and mutual trust between the drivers, which in itself is abreakthrough that contributes profoundly to gymkhana as a traditionally individual sport. Indonesia’s AGIL and ANJAS enjoyed the excitement doubles competition brings to the audience as well as the drivers, while the Indonesian promoter of national gymkhana championship and organizer of AAGC in Indonesia, TJAHYADI GUNAWAN who came to observe the race in Taiwan, was greatly impressed by and fully embraces doubles competition, and is poised to include doubles competition in their races back home.
(CTMSA official news release on 2/11/2017)