27 July 2011
By Cheryl Tay
WHILE some people can only dream of owning a Ferrari, a few like Mr Gregory Teo get to push one to the limit on the racetrack.
The 36-year-old managing director of Citispa is taking part in the inaugural Ferrari Asia-Pacific Challenge, a five-round race series around Asia for non-professional drivers.
Only official Ferrari dealers or authorised distributors are allowed to enter cars in the series.
Said Mr Teo, whose Ital Auto Racing team is backed by local official Ferrari dealer Ital Auto: “Being able to own a Ferrari road car is something special, but to race in a Ferrari has always been one of my biggest dreams.
“Initially, there was some pain pushing such an expensive car on the track. But after racing for a couple of years, I realise that, in order to be competitive and win races, you have to take your chances. “The key is in finding the limit for the race car on the track.”
Mr Teo, who currently drives a yellow Ferrari 599 HGTE back home, has also owned a Ferrari F430 and a Ferrari 360 Modena.
An active member of the Ferrari Owners’ Club Singapore, he went on training stints at Japan’s Fuji Speedway last year.
He has taken part in amateur racing since 2000, and competed in professional racing series such as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Aston Martin Asia Cup. His last race was at the fifth and final round of last year’s Malaysian Super Series, where he won in his race class.
The Ferrari Challenge was established in 1993 and has four series, held in Italy, Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific. The Asia-Pacific Challenge series comprises five rounds, with two in Shanghai, one in Zhuhai, one at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit and a final round in Mugello, Italy.
Of the 22-driver grid which includes competitors from Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and Australia only two are Singaporeans, Mr Teo and veteran racing driver Ringo Chong.
Mr Teo found himself racing alongside Hong Kong “Heavenly King” Aaron Kwok during the series.
Competing in the 4.5-litre 570bhp race-specified Ferrari 458 Challenge, Mr Teo did well in the first round in Zhuhai last month, coming in first in his race class for Race One. Unfortunately, he encountered incidents in the second race and had to retire.
In the second round in Shanghai last weekend, Mr Teo finished a respectable third in his class in both races.
He said: “The Ferrari 458 Challenge car is the fastest among all the cars I have raced in. This car also has the best handling and is the most technologically advanced car I’ve raced in, with a fantastic suspension set-up, massive carbon-ceramic brakes and F1-derived adjustable traction-control system.”
Mr Teo has committed to racing in the Ferrari Asia-Pacific Challenge for two seasons until the end of next year but might continue beyond that, as the car would be good for at least three to four seasons.
He wants to finish within the top three in his class more often, and hopes that he will make it to the Ferrari World Finals in Europe.
*This article was first published in My Paper.