RaceWorks Elite Racing Series 2013: Team Tamiya SG

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

Round 2 of the inaugural RaceWorks Elite Racing Series 2013 will be coming up this Sunday and the five teams – Team ARC Singapore, Team HB/HPI, Team Tamiya SG, Team Xray Singapore and Team Yokomo Singapore – will be back to fight for top honours.

team tamiya sg (4)

In the first round, PY Tang of Team Xray Singapore and Alvin Koh of Team Tamiya SG ended up in a tiebreaker with each winning two rounds of the four legs (winner is determined by best three of the four). Eventually it was PY who narrowly edged Alvin out for the overall winner of Round 1, as the tiebreak is based on the best total number of laps recorded out of any of the three best finals.

Although Alvin has been relatively inactive in the RC car racing scene the past three years, he managed to get back on form pretty quickly for the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series. His team-mate Nicholas Lee, touted as one of Singapore’s best RC car racers currently, was absent from the first round due to national service commitments. (However, the overall season title is counted by the best results for five out of seven rounds.)

The drivers’ and team standings after Round 1 of the Elite Racing Series are:

DriverStandings-Rd1

 

TeamStandings-Rd1

 

Catching up with the Team Tamiya SG over a Saturday morning at RaceWorks with its newly-resurfaced track, they tell me more about their passion for RC cars and their racing adventures.

 

Nicholas Lee, 21, NSF
Fresh from his major win in Thailand at the Thailand International R/C Touring Car Championship 2013 (TITC) where he beat 149 other drivers from around the world in the Open Brushless Class, Nicholas is hungry to compete in the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series and finish at the top.

team tamiya sg (3)

Q: How and when did you start getting into RC cars?
A: My dad used to play RC helicopters; that’s how I got started. I was more into cars and didn’t like planes though. From the age of four I was already into RC cars and I even took part in my first competition then. I remember it was held at Takashimaya and I did quite badly, but I enjoyed it.

Q: When did you start racing more actively?
A: I only really started to race more at the age of nine. That was when I took part in my first overseas competition in Indonesia. I didn’t do that well but it was all for fun. At the age of 11, I started to top qualify during local races and then I began to really push myself. I went overseas to compete more and I even got my first sponsorship when I was 14.

Q: What is your most major win?
A: It has to be the Tamiya World Championship 2011 in Japan. I won the Asia Championship that was held in Singapore that year and earned the seat to compete in the World Championship. I went there with the aim to win and I did win, but I was quite shocked too. I had a crash during the early part of the final and fell to the back of the field. My victory came only when I overtook the leader in the last lap of the race.

Q: What other races are you participating in this year?
A: Due to my NS commitments, I won’t be able to participate in a lot of competitions this year. I will probably have one more overseas one and the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series of course.

Q: What do you think of the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series?
A: I think it’s a good thing to have this series that is similar to Formula 1, with teams of two drivers. It will be very competitive for sure and I am aiming to win this.

Q: What do you think are the chances for Team Tamiya SG for the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series?
A: I feel we are the strongest team and I’m confident that we can have very strong results for the whole series.

Q: Any strategies?
A: The key is just to keep practising. I have limited time to practise due to national service but I will practise whenever I can. The most important thing is to enjoy and have fun.

Q: What do you like about RC cars?
A: I like the speed of the cars and the mechanics, such as the ability to make setup changes to the car and make it go faster. It’s not just about driving but learning about the theories behind the design and technology.

Q: What are some of the challenges driving RC cars?
A: Being able to hold your nerves during the race. For example, I found the recent race in Thailand difficult. I kept making a lot of mistakes and it was a very close race. There were five rounds of qualifying, with three to count and I made mistakes at every round. Of the three rounds of qualifying where I finished at the top of the standings, I was the top qualifier by bare hundredths of a second. I felt I could have done better.

Q: What do you think of the RC car scene in Singapore?
A: It’s a small community and not many people know of RC car. Maybe they do but they have the misconception that RC cars are toys and probably don’t want to spend so much money on these ‘toys’.

Q: Any other motorsport interests?
A: I watch Formula 1 and I tried karting when I was younger. I wanted to take karting further but it is too expensive.

Q: What are your future plans?
A: I hope to compete at higher profile races and keep improving my standards.

 

Alvin Koh, 31, account manager
His last highly competitive race was the HPI Invitational Challenge in 2006 where he emerged champion. Thereafter, Alvin gradually tapered down and slowly exited the scene for a while as work and personal commitments took over. He took part in the Tamiya Asia Cup in 2008 and stopped completely in 2009. He came back in 2010 for some local races and then took a two-year hiatus. Making a comeback in 2013, Alvin is proud to be racing for Tamiya in the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series.

team tamiya sg (2)

Q: When did you start racing in RC cars?
A: I took part in my first competitive RC car race in 1998; a local open class race in the Yokomo series. Then in 1999 I started to get sponsorships.

Q: What is your proudest achievement?
A: When I won the Tamiya Asia Cup Singapore Championships in 2004 (Formula One Class) and in 2005 (Expert Class). I went on to compete in the Asia Cup with winners from eight other Asian countries and emerged champion. Then I represented Asia in the Tamiya World Championship held in Japan where I finished fifth in 2004 and fourth in 2005.

Q: Why did you stop racing?
A: Once you have achieved what you wanted, you have to call it a day. There are other important things in life as well. I wanted to take a break as it was eating a lot into my personal time and taking up a lot of energy. To be able to get into the Tamiya World Championship and gain the experience was very valuable to me. I’m very happy with the fourth place I attained there.

Q: Was it easy to convince you to make a comeback for Tamiya in the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series?
A: Yes, it was very easy. I have been racing Tamiya cars for a long time and Andrew (of Stargek – Tamiya’s Singapore Agent) and I have maintained a close working relationship since he started supporting me in 2001. Besides, Nicholas and I go way back. We started in RC cars at about the same time – I was 15 and he was 4 at that time – and we have been racing each other for a long time. However, we have a very good relationship, especially after he started racing the Tamiya chassis in the last two years.

Q: After being absent for some time, is it difficult to catch up?
A: I will be depending a lot on my experience. Only practice and more practice will bring me the pace. Equipment changes very quickly and I have to keep up. I was a bit worried but we have a strong team and it gives me a lot of confidence.

Q: How did your first comeback race in Round 1 go?
A: I came in second in Round 1 and I almost won it, coming to a tiebreaker. I wasn’t expecting to win to be honest. During practice I was half a second down but I slowly picked up my pace and regained confidence.

Q: What is your aim for the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series?
A: To win the Team Championship title and also achieve a 1-2 finish at every round with Nicholas. I’m very happy to see him perform and will be glad to see him win with me second to him.

Q: What do you think of the RaceWorks Elite Racing Series?
A: R/C racing tends to be a very individual sport though motor racing needs a team to operate. I like this format as the information sharing between team-mates propels us further. There is a lot we can share about set-up, technologies and racing lines. Nicholas and I share a lot with each other, even when we were racing different cars back then.

Q: How is the RC car scene in Singapore like?
A: It’s been pretty quiet all the while. There are many who play with R/C cars but few venture into competitive racing.

Q: What are your future plans?
A: I am really here to enjoy the company and I’m not as ambitious as before, though no less competitive.

team tamiya sg (1)

For more information, please visit www.raceworks.sg.

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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