Saturday, February 6, 2016

Grassroots motorsports in 2015, plenty more in 2016...

Grassroots motorsports is a term that get tossed around pretty often and is commonly used to refer to motorsport activities which are accessible to the common man to build an interest in the general public for motorsports. Some events are handled with a greater emphasis on safety but others could probably benefit from a greater focus on risk management. Most Singapore motorsport enthusiasts usually cite how few activities are present but there are actually a fair number of options available.

Following my first ever gymkana / autocross style event namely the Grassroots Autotest organised by AutoMoment which you can read in more detail here: http://www.automoment.com.sg/first-time-experiencing-grassroots-autotest/ , I decided to attend another event on the 25th of October which would mark my virgin attempt at the Melaka International Motorsports Circuit or MIMC in short form which was held by the good folks of DriveRite http://www.driverite.sg/ . Having heard how tight and twisty the MIMC track was, I was wondering if my settings were optimized to being able to rotate well at the track.

Making my way down with two Scirocco drivers Eugene and Jason, we reached the circuit early after a smooth drive down the North South Highway to be welcomed by the serene quiet of the circuit.



Spirits were high, lifted by the bevy of cars attending the event and the camaderie in the pits was a joy to witness as the newcomers, such as myself, were extended a warm welcome by the more seasoned participants.



Here's a peek of the number and variety of rides attending the event



We soon convened in the briefing room for a rundown of the event proper where we were acquainted with the circuit, the event schedule including which classes each of us might be categorized under and relevant safety rules we had to adhere to.



Before each of us was let out on the track for our practice runs, we had to pass through a tent where a scrutineering check was done to ensure our cars were fit to get onto the circuit to do some laps. A Qstarz laptimer was also affixed during the check in order to ensure our lap times were logged for the basis of ranking and scoring. I was impressed by the emphasis on safety as that was a critical element in ensuring the success of the event.



Blessed by clear skies, it was soon enough that the event proper kicked off! We were allowed solo practice runs for us to familiarize ourselves with the track after which we had an opportunity to clock our fastest laps for individual ranking. Then followed a semi chase type format where 3 cars were allowed on the track with a conservative gap given between each to give a slight taste of the rush that wheel to wheel driving delivered.

After a trial run at the circuit, I soon found out that the challenge of the circuit was to be to ensure your car could be agile enough to quickly respond to constant changes of direction at low to medium speeds. As this track was built as a go kart track, the speeds that a road car could achieve are not very high but the infield section where the corners are tight and follow one after other challenge the driver to constantly keep the rotation in check until the earliest opportunity to straighten out for the higher speed straightaway.

From modern continental hot hatches to retro JDM 90's legends to humble family saloons, check out the awesome variety of rides taking part! 
 
 
 

 




Probably my favourite pic of my car during this event, perfect timing by Dion allowed him to get a snap of my car taking off with a touch of wheelspin on my solo run
 


Here's a video by Dion during one of my runs. The white puffs toward the apex are from the substance used to clear an oil spill which necessitated caution


 
Motorsport is usually a male dominated sport but diversity was present here as the lady participants here pounded the track with their machines with gusto!
 
 
 
 
 
During midday, additional entertainment was in store with a couple of purpose built track machines available for taxi rides along with lovely race queens strutting around the pits for photo opportunities
 


 


 
I enjoyed myself very much and was happy to walk away with a podium position despite the obvious lack of familiarity of the track. Although my car did seem more suited for wide open tracks in its setup, I was able to put into practice a fair bit of my car control skills and had fun trying to keep sideways during the tight twisty infield section (perhaps sliding a bit more than I should!)

 
 
Here's a video of the summary of events that were organized by the DriveRite team in 2015



Both the efforts by AutoMoment ( www.automoment.com.sg ) and DriveRite to bring the motorsports to the man on the street were even picked by the online media as evidenced by this Yahoo news article  Grassroots motorsports gaining popularity in Singapore.


 I'm really glad to see the options for local motorsport expanding so rapidly so car enthusiasts can really get to enjoy their rides safely in such events. I'm looking forward to more participation in 2016 so see you there too!

 
 
Here's a shoutout to those who helped make this possible:
 
DriveRite
Achilles Radial
Ardeca Lubricants Singapore
Whiteline SEA
Thian Seng Motors
Lim Tan Motor
 
Photo credits:
 
Dionysus Yeo aka Dion
Automoment
W3R Photography
Rev Magazine

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