Text: Chase Lim
Photos: Chase Lim/Jeremy Low/Sylvester Lim
It is every motor sportsmans’ dream to represent their countries to compete at the international competitions. Often, this opportunity doesn’t come easy or maybe we should say, it was extremely rare for the local drivers as our participation in the international motorsport were limited by resources, personal commitment, insufficient exposure and many other reasons.
Could you visualise the direction of our gymkhana motorsport without the opportunity to compete with others in the international platform? We might still be practising, imparting the retroactive skills to our passionate learners, we might never aware and understand our gymkhana competencies, we might never have that opportunity to meet our favourite professional gymkhana drivers in person, except by watching them in the YouTube.
My teammate, Sylvester Lim and myself were extremely honored to be selected during the MSS Auto Gymkhana Motul Series 2017 Rounds 2 & 3, to represent MSS Motul Team Singapore to compete at the Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition Round 3, which held in Taiwan. Although it wasn’t our 1st competition with overseas competitors, however, it’s our first ever experience to compete with 13 Asia countries (Nepal, India, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Macau, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore) at a single competition. It might sound challenging and fun, however, the amount of pressure and responsibility which we shouldered, we just couldn’t find the words to express our feeling.
Two weeks before flying off to Taiwan, both of us were extremely occupied in getting and preparing our racing gears. We were honored to be sponsored by Miki Marketing, providing us the OMP Racing suits to compete in the race. Our official wrist watch, Orient Watch, was proudly sponsored by Big Time SG Pte Ltd, which most would be familiar with the owner, well-known motorsport figure, Mr Leslie Chang. Lastly, our important sponsors Sport Singapore, Motul Singapore and Motor Sport Singapore, for making the Asia Auto-Gymkhana trip possible.
Administration preparation for international event was never simple nor easy and we were fortunate to have Mr Stephen Low, Vice-President of Motor Sport Singapore, helping us with all the necessary paper work, accommodation, airport transfer, collection of official item etc.
Friday, 27 Oct 2017 was the pre-event press conference and our first contact with our gymkhana machine, a left-hand drive Mitsubishi Grand Lancer. A 1.8-liter SOHC MIVEC four-cylinder delivering 140 PS (138 bhp), driving the rear wheels courtesy of an updated CVT ‘box, on 18-inch wheels set. Sylvester and myself had that opportunity to try our first experience on a left-hand drive vehicle and pulling handbrake with our right arms… and due to time constraint, only one try out for each of us. Yes, only once, without figuring out how the INVEC III CVT works… and after that, we headed back to the hotel and get ready for the Dinner and Driver’s night.
The welcome Dinner and Driver’s night was quite an enjoying moment where drivers of the 13 nations got together, handshake, chit-chatting and group photo taking as well. The most thrilling moment of the dinner programme which everyone was waiting, The Lucky Draw. The moment where drivers must draw their queue number for the next day race sequence. And this was the time where everyone started to pray very very hard that others would get the number 1 slot. We were lucky to draw 9 & 10, and this gave us some time to witness the first few drivers before our actual runs.
Competition at Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition was intensively competitive. Although everyone was feeling cold in the drizzling freezing weather, however the adrenaline rush just kept everyone excited, concentrating and focusing on the driving performance of other drivers, especially the Japanese professional drivers, Makasi Nishihara and Tetsuya Yamano, 17th Time winner of JAF All Japan Gymkhana Champion.
Tandem or Double Competition, a new category was introduced in the Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition Round 3. The format for this new challenge was very interesting and only two runs were given to each team. In the first run, the second driver in first vehicle (which was me) would line up at the starting gate, follow by the first driver (Sylvester) in the second car with only one metre gap behind me. Once the marshal flags off, both cars would have to exit the gate at the same time. Both drivers must run closely and complete the correct route without contacting an over taking each other. Until the final turn before the gate, the leading car, which was me, would need to provide sufficient space for Sylvester to take the lead and cross into the finishing gate.
The leading car would then join behind and crosses the finishing gate. Yes this ‘Touge’ format was very challenging, however, Sylvester and myself did surprising well and out of 13 countries, we came in 5th position, just behind Japan’s professional driver, Tetsuya Yamano and Masaki Nishihara who secured 4th position.
We did not secure podium for Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition Round 3, however, we were proud of our accomplishment as it was our 1st participation in the competition. This achievement was the most precious moment where both of us would never forget, as it enriches our experience in our motorsport chapter.
Before we end, Sylvester and myself would like to sincerely thank Miki Marketing, Big Time SG Pte Ltd, Sport Singapore, Motul Singapore and Motor Sport Singapore, for selecting and sponsoring us to Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition Round 3. Also a big thanks to Mr Stephen Low, Vice-President of Motor Sport Singapore, Mr Jeremy Low, who accompanied and assisted us during the race, to motorsport friends who constantly motivate us when we were in Taiwan and lastly, our supporters (Alvin Chee, Denelle Tan, Benjamin Wong and David Neo) who received us when we arrived back home. Sincerely, thank you!