Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Tony Lim
If there’s anything that frustrates racing drivers in Singapore, it’s our erratic weather. As much as we all look forward to watching some solid racing, the rain has done much to upset the racing plans of teams, organisers and spectators alike.
For example, the inaugural RaceWorks Elite Racing Series (RERS) held at Bottle Tree Park has unfortunately encountered rain on all three rounds so far.
Everyone was excited about the opening round in January and there were over 50 drivers for both the RERS and the RaceWorks On-Road Championship Series (ROCS) that run concurrently on the same day.
With favourite Nicholas Lee of Team Tamiya SG absent from the race, it was PY Tang of Team Xray Singapore who qualified first. Alvin Koh of Team Tamiya SG, who is making his return to racing after an inactive three-year period, qualified a close second.
The first of the four finals was held before the rain came down and racing had to be postponed for two hours. Thankfully the rain stopped in time for racing to resume, allowing all to witness the intense competition between PY and Alvin as they both won two finals apiece. (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.)
Read more about RERS Round 1 here.
Round 2 in March started out with lots of promise, with new asphalt laid and a new circuit layout. The first qualifying session saw the Top 2 teams from Round 1 – Team Tamiya SG and Team Xray Singapore –setting the pace for the field as Alvin qualified first and PY in second. Nicholas was initially the quickest but his run was excluded due to a minimum weight error.
Just half an hour before the second qualifying was to start, the skies opened and rain poured hard throughout the rest of the day, ceasing all hopes of resuming racing. That meant the final results for Round 2 were based on the first qualifying session and so Alvin picked up his first win for the season for Team Tamiya SG. It was tough luck for Nicholas though, as his disqualification meant finishing at the back of the pack and losing valuable championship points.
Championship points awarded are halved if the finals are not run. With PY in second for Round 2, he continued to lead the driver standings and his Team Xray Singapore remained at the top of the team standings.
Read more about RERS Round 2 here.
Lady Luck didn’t smile on Round 3 as rain came down again. Drivers only managed to get the first qualifying session done – just like in Round 2 – before the organisers had to call off the race. Compensating for the previous round, Nicholas pushed out a stunning lap time of 16.100 seconds in just the first lap and that led him to top the session.
His team-mate Alvin was running second before he made a mistake and had to settle for third when Allister Lim of Team HB/HPI Racing surprisingly jumped to second spot. The biggest upset of the day came from Team Xray Singapore as both their cars did not even start for Q1.
With no finals run, points awarded were halved again. With Team Xray Singapore scoring minimum points ue to their DNS, so Alvin tookover the lead in the driver standings from PY, who now dropped to second. Team Tamiya SG also took over the lead from Team Xray Singapore in the team standings.
Read more about RERS Round 3 here.
Now that we are almost mid-way with the season, I thought it would be good to get some thoughts and words from the organisers. HJ Quek and Roger Toh spent a rainy evening speaking to me…
Q: The weather has been unfavourable for all three rounds thus far, but other than that, how has the Series been developing? According to expectations?
A: We’ve had bad luck with the weather, but that is something we can’t control. In terms of meeting the objectives of planning this Series though, I feel that we have exceeded expectations.
The Series has given fans some names to look out for and we have also noticed teams putting in a lot of effort, such as putting in a lot of testing and preparation. We see the RERS drivers coming in more often and spending more time at the track. That also gives mileage and visibility to the brands they represent with their increased presence.
The level of racing is definitely high with all these elite drivers, just that we haven’t had the chance to see all that materialise due to the weather. We hope Mother Nature will be kinder to us this Sunday!
Q: Feedback has been given about revising the points system as halving the points in the absence of the finals can have quite a significant impact on the championship.
A: We have received feedback and gotten suggestions to re-consider the part about halving points when the finals are not run. We have given it good thought but we feel that it is not fair to change the scoring format midway into the season. We will definitely look into it for next year.
Q: Has the Series been gaining more traction from the ground?
A: Definitely. Another objective we have achieved is the publicity we have been receiving. There has been more interest in racing from hobbyists and that’s exactly what we want to see – we want more enthusiasts to take their hobby to another level. They get to see the competitive side of their hobby through this Series. The teams and brands involved in the Series are also put in the spotlight, which gains awareness for them.
From a business standpoint, there has been more interest in people wanting to pick up the hobby. To aid that we have brought in more affordable car kits so it helps to lower the entry fees. This helps to keep our Series going on a sustained basis – we see a consistent 50-driver field across the ROCS and RERS.
Q: How do you think you could develop the RERS further?
A: The RERS gives the racers of ROCS something to aim towards and we could potentially evolve it and have more than five teams. There are new brands coming into the market and hopefully they will see this Series as a good platform to promote their branding, products and services. It will be ideal if one day we have non-RC brands coming in to support the Series.
Q: Touch wood, but if the rain continues to be an issue, have you ever thought of alternatives?
A: One alternative is to find a venue that is sheltered, has enough space and also enough spectator traffic to hold the Series. But for now we are just keeping fingers crossed that the weather will be good to us for the remaining rounds.
Q: Any more thoughts on the Series?
A: From an organiser’s standpoint, we appreciate that there is some rivalry going on between the teams but we also want them to remember to remain professional even as they compete and represent their brands. Afterall, for most racers, this is a hobby which is meant to be fun and we should not lose sight of this.
The Series has caught the attention of the RC community here in Singapore and we hope to build on it. On track, we have witnessed from surprising results from some drivers, and the performance of new teams like ARC and Yokomo have been encouraging. Team Tamiya SG and Team Xray Singapore both have drivers capable of winning the overall driver and team championship. It is also good to see Team HB/HPI achieve a podium at the last round.
We want to encourage more motorspors fans to come down to catch the racing action on offer, and also find out more about the hobby from some of the best racers in Singapore.
For more information, visit www.raceworks.sg.