Last night was one of the most aggressive karting sessions I’ve ever been involved in. Not that I kart often, but the competition was really intense! In case you are new to my website and have no clue about what’s going on, I held an audition last night to select five ladies to join me and form CTMC2! Racing Angels, the only all-female team racing in the OCBC Corporate Karting Challenge.
We will be racing against all men and you can imagine how tough that will be, especially when the men will naturally be more aggressive than us women! 22 ladies showed up (all from the four different Ladies’ Night lessons I’ve had over the last three months) to come and give it a shot at making it to the team.
The criteria included attitude (20%), overall driving skills (20%), handling & control (20%), racing line (10%), speed (10%), theory (10%) and presentation (10%). The judges for the night included Gerald Tan, Singaporean international racing driver who finished on the podium at the 24H Dubai endurance race in January; as well as Desmond Yip, team owner of the Maddox Singapore team and son to national karting veteran champion Kenny Yip. The final decision was decided among the judges with input and feedback from Kenny and myself.
I stunned the ladies with a quiz upon arriving – a short 12-question quiz just to test their general motorsport knowledge. I hope it didn’t shock them too much! I promised them I will share the answers with them, so I will publish the answers to the quiz along with the results by 2359hrs tonight.
After the quiz, we headed down to get started. The format was similar to all previous Ladies’ Night lessons – practice, qualifying and then a 10-lap race for the overall fastest 10. This time however, I did something different for the race: I started them in a reverse grid. A reverse grid means having the fastest in qualifying start at the back, eg. Whoever scores pole position will start in last place, second fastest starts in ninth place and so on. Having a reverse grid will test how good they are at their racecraft, at overtaking and making their way to the front.
Dividing the ladies into three groups – A, B and C – and randomly allocating them into karts, Group A got off with practice first. Group A featured Umi Kalsom Sapuan (who came in second at Ladies’ Night #3), Lemna Parvini Sani (who came in second at Ladies’ Night #2), Doris Suresh (who came in second at Ladies’ Night #4), Tan Su-Anne (who came in first at Ladies’ Night #2), Cheryl Yeo and Yeo Pek Wei who have attended every single Ladies’ Night and came in first and second a few times, and Michelle Kuek who won last week’s Ladies’ Night #4. I hopped into a kart and joined this group as well. It was only practice but the timings were already so competitive with Michelle clocking 49.895 secs, fastest in practice, Doris clocking 50.388 secs and Cheryl Yeo with 50.612 secs.
Group B went out for practice next – Group B featured Nurfalizzah Ja’afar, Jennelle Leow, Annie Loh, Cheryl Tay (not me!!), Seah Lay Chee, Nur Ashikin Johari and Rochelle Chow. Annie and Jennelle were decked out in full racing gear, complete with a suit and gloves. Jennelle was telling me she bought her suit second-hand just for this audition! Presentation full marks for them man…
Ashikin was fastest in practice for Group B, with a time of 51.420 secs, followed by Rochelle at 52.747 secs and Lay Chee at 53.386 secs. Annie and Jennelle were close to Lay Chee at 53.480 secs and 53.736 secs respectively.
Going out last for practice was Group C, which consisted of Jessica Koh, Christina Lim, Goh May San, Jess Koh (good friend of Jessica Koh’s!), Angel Chan, Wendy Chan, Nazilah Abd Rahim and Natalie Yeo. Given only five minutes of practice to warm up, Group C saw May San finish fastest with 52.077 secs, Nazilah at 52. 457 secs and Jessica at 55.731 secs.
The qualifying session lasted 10 minutes, so we could clock about 10 laps and try to achieve the best lap time to score a place in that Top 10. In Group A, Doris whacked 49.067 secs out of her kart, Michelle with 49.194 secs, Cheryl Yeo with 49.411 secs and me with 49.747 secs! Hooray, I broke the 50-second mark!! Lemna came in at 50.605 secs and Su-Anne at 50.660 secs.
Rochelle from Group B topped not just her group, but also the fastest qualifying time of 49.052 secs! Annie came in at 50.337 secs, followed by Lay Chee at 51.226 secs and Ashikin at 51.311 secs.
Based on Group A and B timings, Ashikin would have qualified in P10 so she was keeping her fingers crossed that no one in Group C will beat her time. Alas, in Group C, May San clocked 50.803 secs and edged Ashikin out of the top 10. Jessica improved loads and achieved 51.660 secs, with Nazilah at 51.763 secs.
Hence, the top 10 fastest qualifiers were (in this order): Rochelle, Doris, Michelle, Cheryl Yeo, Cheryl Tay (that’s me!), Annie, Lemna, Su-Anne, May San and Lay Chee. But because we started in reverse grid, it was Lay Chee in pole position and Rochelle right at the back.
This was my first time taking part in a race and I was excited yet a little worried about what was going to happen. True enough, upon race start, crashes at Turns 1, 2 and 3 occurred non-stop. I got hit from the left, the right and the back, and I felt a sharp pain in my right elbow but ignored it. Down the hill into Turn 3, someone spun and there were karts to her left and right who stopped as well. I didn’t know where to go as there was no empty space left and I was coming at such a high speed, so I screamed my way through, knocking into some karts, eating some grass and managing to come out of the cluster out onto the straight. Haha!
It was quite a race… Lemna shot off to the front after avoiding all the crashes and pulled away on her own, even clocking the fastest time of the night, which was also the fastest time of all the Ladies’ Night sessions, of 48.747 secs. For the middle of the race, Lay Chee and I fighting for second place, with a lot of aggressive overtaking from both of us.
Finally Doris came from behind and took me and went after Lay Chee while I ate both their dust. In this order we finished the race – Lemna, Lay Chee, Doris, me and then it was Su-Anne, Rochelle, Cheryl Yeo, Annie, Michelle and May San. I heard Michelle got knocked into and her chain fell out! The fastest times of the race were clocked by Lemna and her 48.747 secs, Michelle at 49.695 secs and Doris at 49.877 secs.
Taking out these three fastest times of the race, we sent Lemna, Michelle and Doris for a Time Attack lap to test how they perform under pressure. They were only given one chance to get a hot lap, ie. One lap out, one hot lap and then back into the pits. Doris went first, clocking 49.319; Lemna went next and clocked 49.834 before Michelle went for her hot lap and clocked 49.676.
I felt bruising on my hip bones, left thigh, left knee, left elbow and back, and true enough, I woke up this morning with green and purple bruising all over! Got some cuts on my left ankle and my right elbow has a little deep cut too… That was some fierce karting last night man.
The results will be published tonight here at 2359 hrs so remember to come back later!
*Photos by LARRY HAYDN for cheryl-tay.com