Technical Issues Force Hayden Haikal To Settle For 2nd Overall In Thailand...

Technical Issues Force Hayden Haikal To Settle For 2nd Overall In Thailand Super Eco Series

Murphy’s Law ended Hayden Haikal’s campaign for the overall champion spot in the Thailand Super Eco series. The young racer from Malaysia had to settle for 2nd place overall in the series as his race was hampered by technical issues. Nonetheless, this is still considered an achievement as it is also his first time participating in a racing series abroad.Hayden Haikal_Thailand Super Series_Eco

Heading into the final round, Hayden was trailing Thai racer, Na Dol Vatanatham, by 20 points in the championship. Hayden needed to win the final 2 races and for his nearest rival to finish out of the points for him to have a mathematical chance in taking the overall champion position. Both drivers had been going head-to-head in the championship, trading places on the podium throughout the season.

The odds however, appeared stacked against Hayden from the beginning of the race weekend at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram. A broken gear selector pin in his Honda Brio’s gearbox practically benched him after only 5 laps in the 35-minute qualifying session on Friday (9 Dec). Thailand Super Eco Series_Hayden Haikal_Honda Brio

The 18-year-old Hayden managed to put in a fast enough lap before trouble set in, to place him 6th in a field of 23 drivers for Race 1 on Saturday. In Race 1, Hayden pushed his way from 6th to as high as 2nd in pursuit of Na Dol. However, an overheating engine and subsequent loss of power forced him to yield and he eventually finish 5th as Na Dol went on win the 12-lap race.

Hayden’s misfortunes continued on Sunday when the hood of his #81 Honda Brio came loose during the warm-up session and broke the front windscreen. With less than 30 minutes before the start of the final race, the team scrambled to find a replacement windscreen but there was just not enough time to have it changed forcing Hayden to sit out Race 2.

“It is what it is. Still, finishing 2nd in the championship is not all that bad considering it is my first time racing in Thailand and abroad. I’ll gladly take that result any day,” said Hayden who was also named as a rising star in the Thailand Super Series, the country’s premier motor racing event. “Overall it has been a fantastic season for me in the Thailand Super Eco series. I never expected to be fighting for the top 3 positions from my very first race at the Bangsaen street circuit in June but I did. We went on to win 2 races and finish 2nd 3 times in 6 rounds, only missing out on the points in one race due to mechanical issues”.

Hayden Haikal_Thailand Super Eco Series_Honda_Brio“This wasn’t exactly the finale weekend I had envisioned but that’s the uncertainty of motor racing – you accept the result as best you can and live to fight another day. My parents and I now have to assess the season and decide if will return next year. Competing abroad has certainly given me the invaluable exposure I require to move up the ladder but it is also a very costly undertaking – something that we will need to seriously look into given limited funds and the lack of sponsors,” he added.

Hayden in 2018.
Hayden with former deputy chairman of UMW Toyota Motor, Akio Takeyama, in 2018.

The Thailand Super Eco Series is run on both street and permanent circuits. The series began in June with the first 2 rounds held at the Bangsaen street circuit before moving to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram for the remaining rounds with a total of 23 drivers lining the grid. Incidentally, Hayden is the only foreign driver registered in the series. Aged 18, Hayden has the distinction of being of one Malaysia’s rising young drivers. Karting since the age of 9, he clinched the Sporting Class overall title in the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival Vios Challenge racing series at the age of 16, and went on to becoming champion of the Super Sporting Class for professional drivers this year. He also finished 2nd overall in this year’s Sepang 1000km endurance race.


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