Malaysia’s 10-year old karting sensation, Muizzuddin Musyaffa Abdul Gafar, who races in Italy has made Malaysia proud by winning the rookie crown at Italy’s prestigious go-kart competition for the country’s license holders – the 2012 ROK Cup Italia Finals.
Finishing third overall in a field of 43 competitors in the mini 60 category last Sunday at the di Siena International Circuit in Castelnuova, Siena, Muizzuddin, who also competes in the CSAI Italian Karting Championship and several other major competitions in Italy, stunned his rivals including some 13-year olds as the young Malaysian led the field for the first eight laps of the 12-lap contest.
“A slight mistake, however, allowed Domenico Cicognini and Kevin Gagliano to pass him on Lap 8 and Muizz had to be contended with third place. That, however, was enough to give him the Rookie Cup as well as free entry for a full season next year and sponsorship of racing tyres in the competition.
“This is definitely a fantastic achievement by Muizz … he was actually P1 in the pre-final; and that gave him pole position for the final race. With that rookie title, he has now also qualified for the international ROK Cup where top karters using Vortex ROK engines from all over the world will be coming to Italy for the grand finals,” said Muizzuddin’s manager, Zainuddin Radzi.
While other competitors earned their places at the 2012 ROK Cup Italia Finals through qualifying from their regional races, Muizzuddin was given a wildcard entry to the competition via his rookie status and commendable performance in the CSAI Italian Karting Championship this season where he currently sits 10th overall with 39 championship points in the Mini 60 category.
The 2012 ROK Cup World Finals would be held on October 13 and 14 at Lonato near Milan; and Zainuddin is hoping another strong outing from Muizzuddin.
“However, we are not putting specific targets for Muizz at that Rok Cup World Finals. It’s a huge competition with the world’s best karters and most of them would be much older than him. We just want him to get as much track time as possible and improve his skills,” Zainuddin said, adding that Muizzuddin’s bigger agenda would always be the CSAI Italian Championship.
Round 5 and the final round of the championship would be held on September 30 at Ortona near Rome. After four rounds, the series is led by Leonardo Lorandi, who has 188 points; with Remigio Garofano is second with 176 points. Logan Sargeant is third with 111 points.
Apart from Muizzuddin, the championship, which is regarded as the karting world’s most competitive championship with the participation of Formula 1 junior teams, also features another Asian – 12-year old Japanese Ryuta Ueda, who is 12th overall in a field of 31 drivers with 37 points.
“It’s a highly competitive championship with the participation of top karters in Europe and United States. Imagine Muizz and Ueda being the only Asians in the championship. It’s the No. 1 go-kart championship in the world to gain exposure, to get experience and to test out your skills. That’s why we are putting Muizz there,” said Zainuddin, a renowned figure in the sports of go-karting in Malaysia.
After commendable performance in his participation of selected races around Europe last year, Muizzuddin’s parents decided to support their son’s dreams of becoming a Formula 1 driver by putting him on a three-year racing programme that was worked out a top Italian racing outfit, Gamoto Racing.
Currently staying in a rented apartment in Sicily with his mother Siti Rohanah Hussein and attending a local school, Muizz had prosper; making breakthroughs in the sports including becoming Malaysia’s first go-kart winner in Europe.
Though he has yet to win any of the races at the CSAI Italian Karting Championship, Muizz had been victorious twice at state championships in Italy – one at the Puglia Regional Championship on May 27 and the other at Sicily Champion Cup on June 10.
His best performance at the Italian national championship was at Round 4 at Castellato where he finished fifth in Race 1 and eighth in Race 2, where he collected 16 and 6 points respectively.
“At the CSAI Italian Championship, half points are given for Race 2 where the first eight places on the grid are based on reversed positions from the Race 1 results. So, if you get first in Race 1, you will start at 8th position. On the contrary, if you finished 8th, you start at pole position for Race 2. But, points would be halved,” said Zainuddin, who occasionally joined Muizzuddin in some of the races in Italy.
Apart from the final round of the championship and the ROK World Finals, Muizzuddin would be competing in three other races before completing his 2012 season – the WSK Finals Cup from October 5 to 7 in Castelletto; the Trophio dell Industry on October 20 and 21 at Lonato; and the WSK Championship in Udine on November 13 and 14.
“We hoped Muizz can have a good demand experiences and better result at the CSAI Italian Championship final round and maintain his Top 10 overall positions. That was the target that we set for him in his first year … anything else would indeed be a bonus.
“Next year, however, the team had set higher targets of regular top five finishes in the championship; and perhaps podium finishes as well. It’s going to be difficult; but Muizz had the strong determination and the heart of steel. In fact, he called Ironman amongst his friends,” Zainuddin added.
2012 ROK Cup Italia Results
16 September 2012
Circuit International di Siena
Top 10 Finishers
1.Domenico Cicognini (Kosmic/VORTEX) 9:48.225s
2. Kevin Gagliano (Top/VORTEX) 9:48.428s
3. Muizzuddin Musyaffa (Hero/VORTEX) 9:48.461s
4. Giovanni di Giannantonio (Tony/VORTEX) 9:48.946s
5. Alex Nocella (Tony/VORTEX) 9:49.174s
6. Ludovic Zanchi (Maranello/VORTEX) 9:49.274s
7. Ivan Grigorev (Parolin/VORTEX) 9:49.367s
8. Leonardo Marseglia (Tony/VORTEX) 9:49.840s
9. Alessio Baldi (Kosmic/VORTEX) 9:49.481s
10. Christian Cobellini (Top Kart/VORTEX) 9:50.651s