First kickoff for the inaugural RaceWorks Elite Racing Series 2013

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Tony Lim

Taking RC (radio-controlled) car racing to a higher level, the inaugural RaceWorks Elite Racing Series (RERS) 2013 kicked off its first ever round at RaceWorks Hobbies’ on-road track. Modelled after Formula 1, there are five teams of two drivers who will race for the overall Driver and Team championship across seven rounds. The race format for RERS is two qualifying sessions and four finals, each of five minutes.

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Sunday started off a little gloomy, with the sky overcast and forecast for rain in the afternoon. Although the start for the first race was only scheduled for 10.00am, some of the teams and drivers arrived as early as 7.30am.

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The pit area was fully packed as there were over 50 drivers from both the RERS and the RaceWorks On-Road Championship Series (ROCS) that were running concurrently on the same day. Tables were filled with lots of equipment such as battery chargers, tyre warmers (especially with the cooler temperatures), pit lights and fans to cool the motors. While some may think that RC cars are toys, they are actually serious race machines that people invest in, complete with equipment like that of a full-scale race paddock.

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Of the 10 elite racers, top driver Nicholas Lee of Team Tamiya SG was absent from the competition that day due to National Service duties. The other teams were hoping to capitalise on this, as replacement driver Chee Lip Keong stood in for Nicholas. Teams are allowed to exercise two replacements for each driver during the season.

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QUALIFYING

After the drivers’ briefing at 9.30am, the first qualifying session for the ROCS classes got underway at 10.00am, while the first RERS qualifying session was at 11.00am. Team Xray Singapore’s PY Tang got off to a quick start, showing tremendous pace and clocking the fastest lap of 16.066s, 0.35s faster than Team Tamiya SG’s Alvin Koh’s time of 16.416s. Leonard Sim of Team ARC Singapore was just 0.096s off Alvin. [Full results of RERS qualifying 1 here.]

The second qualifying session was held at 12.30pm with much higher track temperatures and lower traction. Alvin managed to improve his best lap time to 16.298s to top the session, while PY’s 16.104 did not better his earlier session’s performance. [Full results of RERS qualifying 2 here.]

Qualifying, however, is not based on the single fastest lap time from both sessions, but rather, it is based on the fastest total time and the most number of laps from either session. PY completed 19 laps in Q1 with his best time of 16.066s, hence he was top qualifier (TQ), while Alvin had to settle for overall second qualifier.

Overall Qualifying Standings:

 Pos Driver Team

Laps

Total Time

In Session

Best Laptime

In Session

1 PY Tang Team Xray Singapore

19

5:14.727

Q1

16.066

Q1

2 Alvin Koh Team Tamiya SG

18

5:00.984

Q1

16.298

Q1

3 Leonard Sim Team ARC Singapore

18

5:05.968

Q2

16.481

Q2

4 Nelson Lee Team ARC Singapore

18

5:09.201

Q1

16.724

Q1

5 Wee EC Team Xray Singapore

18

5:10.269

Q1

16.835

Q1

6 Marcus Choo Team Yokomo Singapore

18

5:11.846

Q2

16.823

Q2

7 Alan Leung Team Yokomo Singapore

18

5:12.700

Q2

16.658

Q2

8 Allister Lim Team HB / HPI

18

5:16.367

Q1

17.099

Q1

9 Chee Lip Keong Team Tamiya SG

17

5:04.252

Q1

16.847

Q1

10 Ben Seet Team HB / HPI

17

5:06.572

Q1

16.818

Q1

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FINAL LEG 1 

Using the qualifying results as the starting grid for the first final, it was time to start chalking up the points for the win.

PY blasted from pole position at the start to grab the lead and manage to avoid any trouble from the back of the field. Unfortunately he got entangled in a racing incident and Allister Lim of Team HB / HPI, who started in eighth, took over the lead. Alvin got into contact with another car and was given a stop-go penalty, dropping down the order to ninth place.

Halfway through the race, PY got back into the lead and managed to stay front to the end. Alvin charged through the field, working his way to the front and finally managed to overtake Ben Seet of Team HB / HPI in the last lap to claim second place.

That put Ben in third place, which was a well-deserved achievement especially when he started in 10th at the back of the field. Leonard qualified third but he was caught in traffic and only finished sixth.

[Full results of RERS final leg 1 here.]

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FINAL LEG 2 

The rain came down in the late afternoon and caused a two-hour delay. After some effort drying up the track, the track was quite damp and traction was much reduced. Drivers were clocking lap times about one second slower than their usual pace.

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The finishing order of the first final was used as the starting grid for the second final. That meant PY started in pole again, but this time he was hit at the start, hence losing his pole advantage and dropped to second. Alvin was quick to dash to the front to grab the lead.

Trying hard to regain the lead, PY fought  hard to control his car on the damp track as it had too much power. On the third lap he managed to execute a good overtaking move on Alvin to take back the lead. But on the ninth lap, Alvin took the chance to get ahead of PY and kept to his lines well, not giving PY the chance to overtake and leading to the end for the win.

While PY finished second, Alan Leung of Team Yokomo Singapore fought a close battle with Ben for third place. Alan’s RC drifting background might have given him an edge in terms of having better control on the slightly greasy track and helping him get that third place.

[Full results of RERS final leg 2 here.]

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FINAL LEG 3 

The grid draw for the third final was done differently – Called the random reverse draw, basically one number was picked from 6 to 10. Whichever number was picked, the positions that fall before that number will do a reverse starting grid. In this case, the number ‘6’ was picked hence the finishers 1st to 6th of the second final were reversed, with the 6th place finisher in Leg 2 starting on pole.

This meant that Alvin and PY, who finished first and second in the second final, started in sixth and fifth respectively for the third final. Team ARC Singapore’s Nelson Lee finished sixth in the second final so he was put in pole position for the third final.

The track was drier this time with lower track temperatures and improving traction. Lap times by the drivers were only three-tenths off the qualifying pace.

Since the start of the day, it was clear that the battle for the win would be between PY and Alvin. While the win was still up in the air, some attention had also shifted to the fight for the last spot on the podium between Ben, Nelson and Alan.

PY started in fifth due to the reverse grid but he was up to third by the end of the first lap. With the dry track conditions, PY’s powerful car could maximise its potential and he overtook pole-sitter Nelson by lap two.

Alvin was making good progress from sixth place and got up to third by lap three. He then had to find the right spots to pass Nelson to get in second place. Finally Alvin overtook Nelson in the fifth lap, but by then PY had already built a good gap. The race ended in that order – PY, Alvin and Nelson, with Alan in fourth. Ben didn’t have a good run and finished in 10th.

[Full results of RERS final leg 3 here.]

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FINAL LEG 4 

By the time the last final came around, the sun had already set and racing had to be done under the lights. The grid draw was a random one again, with those who finished first to ninth in the previous final starting in a reverse grid. Alvin knew he had to win this last leg to stand a chance to deny PY for the overall win in Round 1.

The cars got off to a clean start on the dry track. Lip Cheong  kept his pole position, while Alan moved to fourth from sixth within the first lap. By then, Alvin was in fifth and PY in seventh.

Things started changing rapidly in the second lap and Alvin was up to second place behind Wee EC of Team Xray Singapore. EC then got involved in a crash, handing the lead over to Alvin in lap three. PY was running in third behind Alan who was promoted to second after EC crashed.

On the fourth lap, PY overtook Alan for second place and aggressively hunted down Alvin. He made a mistake in the next lap coming onto the straight and spun out onto a part of the track that was still damp. This caused him to drop to fifth and PY had to work his way through the field with only three minutes left on the clock.

After PY spun out, Nelson was up to third behind Alvin and Alan. PY chased hard and passed Alan with just 1.5 minutes to go. By that time, there was a four-second gap from Alvin and it was too much to achieve within the given time span. Alvin thus won the last final comfortably, with PY in second, Alan in third and Nelson just missing out in fourth.

[Full results of RERS final leg 4 here.]

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With two wins apiece, PY and Alvin were tied on points. The winner is determined by the best three results of the four finals. Down to the tiebreak, PY was declared the overall winner for Round 1. The tiebreak is based on the best total number of laps recorded out of any of the three best finals. Alan, who only recently returned to RC touring car racing from RC drifting, surprised everyone with his overall third place finish.

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“I felt rather confident going into Round 1 as my practice sessions went pretty well and my pace was very quick compared to the other fast guys. My Xray T4 felt very good during the weekend practice and I just had to stay focused on race day,” said PY in the post-race interview.

His qualifying rounds went well to put him in pole position but the rain after the first final changed everything as he struggled on the wet track after the restart. Having a better advantage over the others in terms of raw speed on a dry track, the extra power of his car worked against him in wet conditions, making it very difficult to drive.

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As a result, the remaining three finals became very tough for PY due to the damp track conditions. Although he started from pole position, a lot of things can happen and PY said he had to focus on driving fast and as safely as possible without crashing or being hit by other cars.

“My target is of course to win the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series, but it will be difficult over the series as other drivers now know what I can do. I expect the racing to become more challenging going forward. Winning would be a great achievement for myself and my sponsors,” he added.

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Overall results of the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series Round 1

 Pos  Name

Leg 1

Leg 2

Leg 3

Leg 4

Best 3 of 4

Tiebreak

1
PY Tang

1

2

1

2

4

18 / 5:07.896

2
Alvin Koh

2

1

2

1

4

17 / 5:02.544

3
Alan Leung

7

3

4

3

10

4 Nelson Lee

4

6

3

4

11

5 Wee EC

9

5

6

5

16

6 Ben Seet

3

4

10

10

17

17 / 5:14.765

7 Chee Lip Keong

5

7

9

7

17

16 / 5:01.598

8 Leonard Sim

6

9

5

9

20

9 Allister Lim

8

10

8

6

22

10 Marcus Choo

10

8

7

8

23

RaceWorks Elite Racing Series Driver Championship Standings (after Round 1)

Pos

Driver

Team

Points
(after Round 1) 

1

PY Tang

Team Xray Singapore

15

2

Alvin Koh

Team Tamiya SG

13

3

Alan Leung

Team Yokomo Singapore

12

4

Nelson Lee

Team ARC Singapore

11

5

Wee EC

Team Xray Singapore

10

6

Ben Seet

Team HB / HPI

9

7

Chee Lip Keong

Team Tamiya SG

8

8

Leonard Sim

Team ARC Singapore

7

9

Allister Lim

Team HB / HPI

6

10

Marcus Choo

Team Yokomo Singapore

5

 RaceWorks Elite Racing Series Team Championship Standings (after Round 1)

Pos

Team

Points
(after Round 1) 

1

Team Xray Singapore

25

2

Team Tamiya SG

21

3

Team ARC Singapore

18

4

Team Yokomo Singapore

17

5

Team HB / HPI

14

After one round, Team Xray Singapore and their driver PY Tang are leading the standings. It is still pretty early in the season though, with six more rounds to go and of course, top racer Nicholas Lee will be back to challenge for the win after missing the opening round.

Round 2 of the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series will take place on 17 March.

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Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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