KUALA LUMPUR, 3 August -- Malaysian karter Muizzuddin Musyaffa Abdul Gafar finished a commendable ninth overall in the 2016 CIK FIA European Championship; but has actually left the 14-year old Malaysian feeling distraught after failing to meet his personal target of finishing in the Top Five overall for the OK Junior category.
With a total of 73 championship points after four rounds of competition, Muizzuddin, or just Muizz among friends, family members and fellow competitors, ended his second European championship campaign 39 points behind the newly-crowned champion, Britain’s Finlay Kenneally of Team FA Kart Racing, who finished with a total haul of 112 points.
Denmark’s Noah Watt of Tony Kart took second overall with a total haul of 110 points while French karter Victor Martins of Team Kosmic took third overall with 109 points. At ninth overall, Muizzuddin, who competes under Italian-based DR Racing Kart factory team was the highest placed Asian racer in a grid of 73 karters from all over the world in the category that groups competitors between 13 and 15 years old.
“Overall, it is still a disappointing championship. After an excellent Round 3, we were aiming to finish on a high. Top 3 overall was possible. Even the championship crown was actually within reach. But, everything simply went wrong in Belgium. Maybe, I was pushing too hard and make some mistakes. I was slapped with a time penalty twice – one in Heat 2 and the other for Heat 3. That pulled down the results and I failed to qualify for the pre-final,” Muizz said of his performance in the final leg of the championship.
Third in the previous round in Portimao, Portugal in June, Muizz, who was on track to finish in the overall top three, failed to collect a single point at the final round Genk, Belgium last weekend and immediately saw him dropping down the championship ladder.
In a field of 76 karters, Muizz was 40th in qualifying. Eighth in Heat 1, Muizz was placed 33rd and 27th respectively for Heat 2 and Heat 3 after being imposed penalty timings for both races. In a clean Heat 4, the Malaysian karter took seventh place. With a combined result, he was placed in 59th position; and had to start his pre-final race from the tail end of the grid. In his haste to immediately move up and keep close to the race leaders, Muizz crashed at Turn 1; ending his race prematurely and out of contention.
In the competition, championship points are awarded in qualifying heats, pre-final and the final race. While FIA is the international authority on motorsports affairs, CIK is the governing body for karting worldwide.
With this year’s European campaign over, Muizz said that the team’s focus now will be on the CIK FIA World Championship for the OK Junior category, which would be held in Sakhir, Bahrain from November 16 to 20.
“Basically, I would be competing against the same group of drivers again at the world championship. I would continue with my fitness programme to prepare for the event. At the same time, we are already looking towards next year … we are looking at moving directly into the Formula 4 championship.
“Naturally, we are looking at securing for sponsorship. So far, since I started karting in Italy, all the expenses are born by the family with full support from family and friends. With my track record, we are hopeful to secure some sponsorship and pursue my dream of becoming a Formula 1,” said Muizz, who was recently included in the prestigious Lamborghini Kart Drivers Program.
“Formula 1 has always been the dream and the target. We have drawn a programme to follow the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. They opened their path to Formula 1 through Formula 4,” added Muizz, who created history in 2012 when he became Malaysia’s first ever go-kart winner in Europe when he won two regional races in Pulgia and Sicily in Italy when he was 10 years old in the 60 Mini category.
Competing in the same category for karters aged between 10 and 12 years old, Muizz also won the WSK Champions Cup overall title and the vice-champion crown in the WSK Masters Series in 2014.
2016 CIK EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP – OK JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
Final championship standings after 4 rounds
1.Finlay Kenneally (Britain) – 112 pts
2. Noah Watt (Denmark) – 110 pts
3. Victor Martins (France) – 109 pts
4. Dennis Hauger (Norway) - 98 pts
5. Sami Taoufik (Morocco) – 97 pts
6. Caio Jotta Collet (Brazil) – 92 pts
7. Isac Blomqvist (Sweden) – 90 pts
8. David Vidales Arenjo (Spain) – 85 pts
9. Muizzuddin Musyaffa Abdul Gafar (Malaysia) – 73 pts
10. Kiern Jewiss (Britain) – 70 pts
11. Ivan Shvetsov (Russia) – 62 pts
12. Charles Milesi (France) – 60 pts
13. Teddy Wilson (Britain) – 59 pts
14. Ulysse De Pauw (Belgium) - 51 pts
15. Ugo De Wilde (Belgium) – 46 pts
16. Oscar Piastri (Australia) – 46 pts
17. Théo Pourchaire (France) – 40 pts
18. Dmitrii Bogdanov (Russia) – 38 pts
19. Pavel Bulantsev (Russia) – 38 pts
20. Mikhail Simonov (Russia) – 34 pts