The lack of a permanent drift skid to practise on and weak commercial support are reasons for the slow growth of the sporting aspect of drifting, but this year will see the highest participation of Singaporeans at the fifth instalment of Formula Drift Singapore, despite the constraints faced in the motorsports industry.
Nine local drifters will be representing the nation next weekend at the second round of the Formula Drift Asia series taking place at the Changi Exhibition Centre.
Previously, the highest number of Singaporean participation was eight drivers in 2010.
Three new faces – Geoveen Hi, Vincent Ng and Alvin Tay – are coming onboard, while seasoned competitors like Ivan Lim, Jansen Tan, Felix Lim, Benjamin Chiam, Winston Ang and Jason Tan are eager to better their result from earlier years.
After managing his own drift team – Team Exotic Drift – for the last four years, Hi decided to relinquish his team manager role and get behind the wheel this year to compete as a drifter instead.
Ng on the other hand, had the intention to participate two years ago but his car did not meet the technical specifications required, hence he needed more time and money to build up the car.
After a shakedown at the Team Westlake drift clinic last Sunday, Tay only made the decision to take part a few days ago.
Since the inaugural Formula Drift Singapore that was held in 2008, Ivan Lim and Felix Lim are the only ones who have taken part every single year.
“Formula Drift was relatively unknown to the average Singaporean when it first entered the scene five years ago. However, since then it has built up a strong profile and awareness, with event organiser ESPN STAR Sports Events Management’s broadcast muscle and the centrally-located venue at F1 Marina Bay street circuit. The increased exposure is great, but the technical regulations are strict and not everyone has the budget. It would be totally awesome should a Singaporean stand on the Formula Drift podium one day though; that will definitely encourage more Singaporean drivers to participate!” said Felix Lim.
Falling off the Formula Drift radar are Adam Toh, Colin Teo and Yusuff Shah, all of whom were part of the pioneer batch of Formula Drift Singapore competitors in 2008.
Teo last competed at Formula Drift in 2009, while Mr Toh and Mr Shah stopped after 2010.
“Drifting involves getting a lot of practice and strong cash flow support from sponsors. With minimal opportunity to practise in Singapore and lack of monetary and parts sponsorship, I decided to put drifting on hold for awhile to pursue my career as a commodities trader. Hopefully I can make enough money to come back into the sport in the near future!” said a hopeful Shah.
In the midst of transitioning his new drift car, Toh still has some way to go before his car will be competitive enough for Formula Drift.
Keen to see the sport develop further, Toh feels there is “a need to provide access to a feeder league so as to cultivate interest and ensure qualification to Formula Drift”.
He adds, “An excellent job has been done in keeping Formula Drift very professional, but as the stakes get higher, it also means that the gap between the local drifting community and the professional drifters (especially the ones from overseas) becomes harder to bridge.”
His thoughts are echoed by the rest of the drifters as well.