One of the requirements to take part in the Red Bull Rookies Driver Search is to have a driving licence for manual cars.
Although Andrea Tay attained her driving licence in 2007, she was not confident of her manual driving skills, hence renting a manual car for a week just to practise for the competition.
The 25-year-old graduate was only one of three Singaporean females left in the last six female finalists to join anchor driver Melissa Huang, also Singaporean, in the four-person female Red Bull Rookies team.
After four months of several elimination rounds, her efforts paid off when she was the last name announced for the female team.
Initially the plan was to have only three people on the team, but a surprise announcement was made at the revealing of the results that four people will be on each team instead.
“I actually knew about the Red Bull Rookies last year but I missed the deadline then so this year I was determined to sign up. I think this is a great opportunity to improve my defensive driving and I am also keen on getting a sense of what racing is like. I went to rent a manual car to practise as I’ve only driven a manual car once or twice after getting my driving licence. I stalled on the first few tries but after that it was very helpful in refreshing my manual driving skills,” said Tay.
Siti Zirwatul of Brunei amd Taryn Lim from Malaysia complete the team with Tay and Huang.
Competition was tougher for the male Red Bull Rookies team, with 10 finalists fighting for the three spaces to join anchor driver Mark Darwin of Malaysia.
Of the five Singaporean male finalists, 20-year-old accountant Matthew Ng and 21-year-old full-time National Serviceman Amrit Mirchandani Changaroth were selected.
Ng’s regular tracking experience at the Johor circuit at Pasir Gudang proved to be an advantage to him.
To prepare for this competition, Ng spends time doing his homework, drawing out the Sepang track again and again, as well as watching videos online to study the racing lines.
He said, “I head to the Pasir Gudang track quite often, about once or twice a month, sometimes to the extent of even twice a week. The key is not about just trying to beat your lap time, but being smooth and consistent with your racing lines and techniques, then your timings will naturally improve.”
Influenced by his father Shreejit Changaroth, an engineer and also a seasoned motoring journalist, Amrit used to spend his weekends at the car park rallies which his father was involved in, thus having the motorsport bloodline in him since young.
This year’s format for the Red Bull Rookies Driver Search is slightly different, with a search for a male and a female team of drivers below 25 years old from Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia, as opposed when it first started in 2007 purely for females in Malaysia.
Both teams will race in the Sepang 1000KM (S1K) endurance race in December.
Jyn Wee, regional Sales and marketing director at Allswell Trading Pte Ltd (that distributes the Red Bull gold can in Singapore) said, “It’s not about winning and it’s all about the experience. We have an internal competition between both our Red Bull Rookies teams with a prize of RM 10,000, so whichever team finishes higher up in S1K wins. However, we have put up a quick proposal that if the winning team decides to donate this cash to charity, we will match it dollar to dollar. That means if they decide to donate all RM10,000 to charity or form some drivers’ foundation, we will take out an additional RM10,000 to donate as well.”
For more photos of the Red Bull Rookies 2012 finals, view here.