After three rounds of qualifying using the rocket round format, the 2017 AOC round 1 in Shanghai, China would deliver some of the finest racing in Asia. With triple A-mains for all classes and double mains for the lowers, Sunday would be filled with happiness as well as heartbreak. Halfway through qualifying in the Modified Sedan class, Infinity’s Akio Sobue seemed to have found a 2nd gear as he was able to dominate the last 2 rounds of qualifying and earn TQ, but most importantly earn the track position that matters most on a tight circuit. Starting from pole, Sobue would make good on his start position to take the win in A1 with the rest battling for 2nd and 3rd. A2 saw Sobue masterfully cover his lines to defend attacks from 2nd place qualifier, Xray’s Alexander Hagberg. Mistake free, Sobue would leave the field to cross the line and take A2 and the overall. A3 of Mod sedan would determine the rest of the podium.
The start of A3 saw Hagberg and Infinity’s Naoto Matsukura distance themselves to engage in their own battle safely away from the field. It wasn’t until Hagberg hit a dot in the chicane that inadvertently lead Matsukura into the back of his car and tuck the rear of his body. While Matsukura tried to wait, the two would get engulfed by the field with Hagberg getting shuffled to the back. Matsukura would go on to take the win giving himself 3rd and 1st that would result in a 2nd place overall finish. As A3 didn’t go Hagberg’s way, the Xray driver would have to rely on his A1 and A2 scores to net him 3rd on the podium.
Referred to the Ironman by Scotty Ernst over the weekend, Xray’s Jan Ratheisky would deliver three wins out of six classes entered. Ratheisky would go on to win A1 and A2 of the 17.5 Blinky Sedan class, 13.5 Boosted Sedan class, and take the win in the 1/12th scale Stock class. It was a show of dedication and adaptation as Ratheisky was more often than not, back to back to back in different stock and modified disciplines.
The Xray duo of Ratheisky and Koh would once again finish 1st and 2nd in the 13.5 Boosted Sedan class with Ratheisky winning the overall and Koh delivering on two 2nd place finishes to lock up the 2nd step on the podium. Xray’s John Lu would be the final man on the podium with clutch driving in A3 to take 3rd overall.
The 17.5 Blinky Sedan class saw Ratheisky take the win, but the other story was his Xray teammate and up and coming talent, 13 year old Nicholas Koh. Koh was able to finish with two 2nd place finishes to take 2nd overall. Also making the podium was Xray’s Jimmy Qian who finished 2nd in A2 and 3rd in A3 to make the final spot on the podium.
Perhaps the closest racing of the weekend came from the 1/12th Modified class with an all out, epic battle between Yokomo’s young talent,Toto Ebukuro and Xray’s Alexander Hagberg. Ebukuro would strike first with a clutch win in A1 while Hagberg would go on to take A2 leaving the final main to decide the overall winner. Starting off A3 extremely fast, Hagberg would distance himself from Ebukuro, but halfway through the race a fatal mistake by Hagberg would let Ebukuro take the lead. From there, Ebukuro would drive mistake free to take the overall with Hagberg 2nd. Another rising star was Yokomo’s Toshi Yanagisawa, who showed great speed all weekend and finish 3rd on the podium.