By Aaron Waldron
The track stands at 180 x 200 feet with a racing line of 360 meters, with many large-radius corners that are perfect for large-scale racing. The track gently slopes upward from pit lane to the back straightaway for better visibility. Track records for both classes were set in qualifying for the event, as Mathew Kellet recorded a 20.988 in Large Scale while Meen Vejrak turned an 18.677 in GT.
Since it was the first time the Large Scale Worlds had been broadcasted live, we asked someone for an inside look at one of the big behemoth touring cars - and Australian team manager Trent Aquilina showed off his RS5 for us.
Former 200mm nitro touring car world champion Meen Vejrak, one of several pro racers who traveled to Kuala Lumpur for the first-ever GT World Cup, set the fastest qualifying time despite having less than a week of practice with the Mugen Seiki MGT7 — and it wasn't even close. The provisional class used the added times of each driver's three-best rounds of the nine that were run, and Vejrak secured a direct transfer spot to the final with a total that was over two laps ahead of the rest of the field.
The only other driver who went straight into the main event was 15-year-old Lim Kai Liang, or "KL Lim," who was competing in front of the hometown crowd.
Unfortunately, the turnout for the Large Scale class was sparse, with none of the European stars making the trip to compete. The race for the overal Top Qualifying honors came down to Australian buddies Matthew Kellett and Russell Grenenger. On the final day of qualifying (over which twelve rounds were completed) Kellett set the fastest time of the event by more than ten seconds over Grenenger, and more than a lap faster than anyone else. Unsurprisingly, both Kellett and Grenenger won their semifinals to transfer to the main event.
Before the start of the 60-minute Open GT final, Vejrak’s clutch failed in warm-up. He was able to make repairs to his car during a ten-minute grace period, but had to start from the back of the grid. Former ISTC world champion Surikarn Chaidajsuriya took advantage of the opportunity to race to the lead and pulled out quite a gap. However, Chaidajsuriya collided with a slower vehicle shortly after the halfway point, and his vehicle suffered a ruptured fuel tank.
Chaidajsuriya spent the rest of the main event trying to keep fuel in the tank, and his engine running, which opened the door for Liang to take over the lead with 20 minutes remaining while Vejrak raced his way through the field — an adventure made more difficult as he suffered a flameout of his own. Liang proved his pace during qualifying was no fluke, and once out front was able to run with with little pressure. He crossed the finish line for the championship more than 11 seconds ahead of Thai driver Paphon Chanyasak, with Vejrak over four seconds further back in third. The spectators and track crew erupted in excitement when Liang crossed the finish line.
Driver (Country) - Laps/Time - Car/Engine/Tires
- Lim Kai Liang (Malaysia) - 179/1:00:03.736 - Mugen Seiki/Maxima/Sweep
- Paphon Chanyasak (Thailand) - 179/1:00:14.976 - Serpent/Maxima/GRP
- Meen Vejrak (Thailand) - 179/1:00:19.257 - Mugen Seiki/O.S./Sweep
- Witsarut Ruamlarp (Thailand) - 173/1:00:13.819 - Serpent/Maxima/GRP
- Anthony Wee Boon Aun (Malaysia) - 173/1:00:14.824 - Serpent/REX/SP
- Ong Chee Yong (Malaysia) - 173/1:00:03.833 - Mugen Seiki/REDS/Sweep
- Surikarn Chaidajsuriya (Thailand) - 171/1:00:25.903 - Mugen Seiki/Novarossi/GRP
- Paolo Morganti (USA) - 164/1:00:16.866 - Serpent/Picco/Sweep
- Mongkolphan Lomrose (Thailand) - 162/1:00:06.509 - HB/Maxima/Sweep
- Nick Chong (Malaysia) - 160/1:00:10.511 - Serpent/Maxima/SP
- Tan Yeo Lek (Malaysia) - 126/1:00:14.187 - Mugen/Tesla/SP
- Lun Yan Tau (Malaysia) - 122/1:00:16.288 - Mugen Seiki/Tesla/SP
- Jilles Groskamp (Netherlands) - 99/34:22.646 - HB/Maxima/Sweep
- Abedey Mahathir (Malaysia) - 20/10:26.852 - Serpent/Novarossi/SP
Despite not being the fastest in qualifying, Grenenger sped off to a comfortable lead over his friend and teammate at the start of the one-hour Large Scale final. Before the ten-minute mark, though, his car started driving erratically before the right-rear tire fell off on the back straightaway. With the early leader forced into pit lane for an unplanned pit stop, Kellett assumed the lead and drove comfortably while Grenenger, who dropped to seventh more than four laps off the lead, rejoined the race and immediately began charging through the field rapidly. Just a few laps after drivers pulled out of the the pits following the mandatory 90-second fuel stop at the halfway mark, Grenenger drove past Chiu Chieh for the second position and set his sights on Kellett.
In the closing stages of the race, Kellett crashed into a slower car right ahead of Grenenger — who was trying to earn one of his laps back. Grenenger's car collided with Kellett's, which damaged the left rear fender and tire of Kellett's car. Rather than trying to pit for repairs, Kellett chose to limp around until time expired and Grenenger rapidly closed the gap. Grenenger passed Kellett for the lead with less than five minutes to go and sped away for the championship, while Kellett held on for second and Chieh rounded out the top three.
Driver (Country) - Laps/Time - Car/Engine/Tires
- Russell Grenenger (Australia) - 156/1:00:08.037 - HARM/Abbate/PMT
- Mathew Kellett (Australia) - 156/1:00:21.653 - FG/Abbate/?
- Chiu Chieh (Taiwan) - 154/1:00:20.260 - HARM/Zenoah/?
- Satoshi Takesako (Japan) - 147/1:00:22.595 - Mecatech/Nexttune/?
- Paul Leaf Milham (Australia) - 142/1:00:04.684 - HARM/DW/PMT
- David Murdoch (Australia) - 140/1:00:14.959 - FG/Abbate/?
- Michael Knemeyer (Germany) - 128/1:00:14.332 - HARM/OBR/PMT
- Trent Aquilina (Australia) - 120/1:00:07.064 - RS5/888RC/?
- Kuniharu Ujima (Japan) - 117/1:00:01.927 - RS5/You Factory/PMT
- Michael Siow Boon Fong (Singapore) - 114/1:00:11.969 - HARM/?/?
- Yeo Seong Leng (Singapore) - 105/1:00:02.756 - Contrast/UTZ/GRP
- Tomoaki Okuda (Japan) - 44/21:48.595 - HARM/G4z/GRP
The IFMAR Large Scale World Championship and GT World Cup will be held again this year, from November 25 to December 10, in Buenos Aires, Argentina — unfortunately, we won't be there to cover it, but we can only hope the event produces similarly wonderful story about two deserving winners who meet after the main events for a congratulatory handshake.