5 April 2011
By Cheryl Tay
For the second straight year, Singapore’s Daim Hishammudin was selected last Saturday to take part in the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Programme in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
The 12-year-old was one of only two youngsters chosen for the programme when Formula One Team Lotus was set up last year, and retained his place when the programme was expanded to seven drivers this year.
The programme utilises the expertise of Team Lotus to help develop the best young driving talents across the globe through training, career guidance, coaching and sponsorship procurement.
Said Daim, who remains the youngest driver among the seven chosen: “I’m very happy to have been chosen again for the second time and I am honoured that I am winning races with the support of Team Lotus and AirAsia.”
Now in his first year of Junior kart racing, Daim spent the last three months at Italy’s Descenzano Del Garda facilities, where he underwent intensive training with the Kosmic Racing team and took part in two World Series Karting (WSK) Master Series races.
Alex Yoong, Malaysia’s former F1 driver who is now Team Lotus’ head of driver development, said: “This year is a transition year for him as he moves up from Cadet to Junior class. It is highly recommended for Asian drivers to train in Europe where the field is stronger and the competition levels are much higher.
“The aim is for him to eventually be racing full-time in Europe and we will do that once he is physically and mentally ready. At the moment, he is not physically strong enough to get the most out of the kart.”
Daim began karting for fun at the age of eight and started competing in karts two years later, winning the 2008 and 2009 Yamaha SL Cup as a cadet racer, as well as the 2009 Rotax Max Challenge Asia 2009.
His dad, Mr Hishammudin Hasan, said: “It was tough to send my kid away at such a young age to a foreign land but he shows maturity beyond his age and gives me the confidence to do so.
“We intend to make the three-month overseas training stint a yearly affair before he is based overseas full-time one day.”
This year, Daim plans to focus on the Asian Karting Open Championship and Rotax Max Challenge Asia series, but will still travel to Europe for a few more racing and training stints.
He said: “There is still a lot more for me to learn and improve on. I will continue to work hard and I am proud to be part of the AirAsia Team Lotus driver development programme, where I get to benefit from the team’s expertise and experience.”