With a hundred year history of motorsports ahead of Asia, it is no surprise that the Europeans are naturally better at it. But Asia has been gradually improving in its standards as more Asian drivers make it to Formula One. A recent commendable effort worth mentioning is Singaporean kart racer Andrew Tang at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals 2010.
Held at the La Conca International Track in Muro Leccese, Italy from 14 – 21 November, this annual event sees top kart drivers – who qualified through national and international kart race series – from all over the world congregate at one place to compete. All competitors use the same chassis and engine, as supplied by the race organisers, putting participants on fairly equal ground.
Of the 72 drivers from across 50 countries in Tang’s Senior Max 125 category, only 34 will make it to the final after five rounds of heats and a Second Chance Race. It was first time racing in Europe for Tang, where track conditions and racing standards are very different, he adapted to the foreign track well and was the first Singaporean and only Asian to make it to the last 34 of the Senior Max 125 category.
During the final, Tang was up to 14th place at one point, but a moment of error in judgment cost him to lose eight places. Eventually, Tang finished in 23rd spot. Such is the level of competition in Europe – one mistake can cost you to lose several places instantaneously or even the entire race.
“I stopped racing for four years, but I decided to make a comeback this year. It is my first time racing in Europe and also my first time racing in the Senior Max category. Although I was one of the youngest drivers in my field and the track was unfamiliar to me, I managed to make it to the top 34,” said a happy Tang.
The Secondary Four St Joseph’s Institution student first karted in 2001 at the age of seven. He started racing and was progressing well, even winning the Macau International Kart Grand Prix (Cadet Category) in 2005. However, the pressure got too much for him and he took a four-year hiatus from the sport.
“I was taking my Primary School Leaving Examinations then and I was under a lot of stress. I’ve always loved the sport; its adrenalin and its speed especially, but I could not cope then and so I asked to give it up,” Tang explained. “However, I decided to come back and my first race since 2005 was last November at the Asian Karting Open Championship (AKOC) in Thailand.
Tang has made a successful comeback this year, travelling around the region to race in the Rotax Max Challenge Japan, Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia, AKOC as well as the Singapore Karting Championship.