Tuesday, 14 June 2011
By CHERYL TAY
FORMULA Drift Singapore held its fourth edition successfully at the Formula One Pit Building on Sunday, but there was a troubling drop in local participation in the event.
Only five Singaporean drivers took part this year, compared to the record eight drivers last year.
Said Mr Jeremy Soh, competition director of the Formula Drift Asia series: “The decline is probably due to the usual reasons – lack of facilities to practise, lack of a local drift series and low support of sponsors from local companies.
“The absence of exposure and race opportunities makes it hard for our local boys to improve and attract funding from companies here.”
The home-grown Team Stamford Falken drift trio had just one representative, Felix Lim, on Sunday.
Teammates Jansen Tan and Adam Toh could not get their cars ready in time, owing partly to high venue-rental costs for testing and practice.
While the team have tried to promote drifting by holding clinics, the high running costs and difficulties in finding locations make it tough for the clinics to be held regularly.
Local workshop SPARK Motorsports, backed by ComfortDelGro Engineering, entered the four-round Formula Drift Asia series in full force, with a professional foreign-talent drift team.
They retained Charles Ng of Hong Kong, dropped Singaporean drifter Ivan Lim and Japanese drifter Ryuji Miki, and added eventual winner Daigo Saito, as well as Formula Drift USA regulars Kenshiro Gushi and Robbie Nishida.
While four Singaporeans qualified in the top 32 spots in last year’s Formula Drift Singapore, only one made it this time – Jason Tan of the international GT Radial Drift Team.
He said: “Conditions on the track were different this time due to the heavy downpour, making it slippery and hard just to pull off a complete run, not to mention scoring points in style to qualify.
“We had to try our best not to spin on the wet ground, as spinning out means a definite zero score.”
The heavy rain last Saturday resulted in a wet qualifying session, which threw a spanner in the works as the favourites found themselves struggling to get to grips with the slippery grounds of the track.
Only 31 drivers attained scores, although there were 32 qualifying spots. Last year, only 29 drivers qualified.
While there was heavy rain during the qualifying session, the sunny weather on Sunday allowed drivers to show off their precise driving skills.
Said Mr Marcus Lim, co-founder of Formula Drift Asia: “I was very grateful for the good weather (on Sunday).
“Appreciation for the sport has evolved, with spectators responding better. They seemed to have a better understanding of the rules and had a clearer sense of what was happening.”
The competition this year was made more interesting with a team championship on top of the drivers’ title, similar to the constructors’ championship in Formula One.
A lot more team spirit was witnessed as well, with teams such as the PTT Performa Team, Red Bull Drift Team Thailand and M150 Overdrive from Thailand decking out their drivers in similar racing suits and car livery.
There was even a marriage proposal on the track by Singaporean drifter Adam Toh to wife-to-be Grace Tai, during the interval before the Top 16 tandem battles.
The next round of Formula Drift Asia will be held in Indonesia for the first time in October.
*This was first published in my paper.