Following his team’s victory in round 2 of the Singapore Karts Enduro Championship, where they also sealed the overall championship title, we caught up with NUS Motoring Club President, Jonathan Lim of Team Sofa King Slow, to find out his views on the local karting scene!
SK: We understand that you started Karting and motorsports in community karting events. Could you tell us when you started and what are your thoughts on community karting events in Singapore?
JL: This was way back in 2007, with a now defunct local grassroots karting forum called The Karting Edge, where I took part in a couple of races with them at the Plentong circuit in Johor. Soon after I joined, most of the members transferred to a new site called KartingSingapore.com, and organized a race series at the just-opened Kartright Speedway in Jurong, and later the Changi Kart Circuit. This series was extremely popular and lasted till about 2013 when CKC closed.
I think community karting events are crucial to the motorsports scene, as they are the most accessible way for anyone to start racing. Unfortunately for the past 3 years there have been very few grasroots karting events being organised anywhere, and the few that are held are far too expensive for the average novice to find appealing.
This is compounded (or caused) by the BCA’s frankly misguided and draconian speed restrictions on rental karts and their requirement for driving licenses. Notwithstanding the fact that even the higher 50km/h limit makes proper racing extremely difficult, but the ridiculous 30km/h limit for non-licence holders effectively locks out the demographic that the sport needs to attract the most: the youth. No two ways about it, these BCA rules are killing this sport at the community level in this country, as the many young fans out there who have the passion and the skills to go racing have absolutely no avenue to do so.
SK: How old were you when you started karting?
JL: First time I experienced a go-kart was on my dad’s lap in Perth when I was 3. Other than that, I joined a one-off kart race when I was 15, and only started racing regularly at 16.
SK: Having taken part in both community karting events (e.g. Singapore Karts Enduro Championship) and community car racing events, what do you find are the things in common between the two?
JL: Definitely the sense of camaraderie, openness and friendliness. It’s not easy being a car enthusiast in Singapore, and opportunities to go racing are even harder to come by – either there aren’t enough events being organised or their barriers to entry are too high (e.g. in terms of cost or the kind of machinery you need to own). As a result, most grassroots racers tend to look out for each other, by maintaining friendly rivalries; offering encouragement and advice; and welcoming newcomers with open arms. After all, we’re a small enough community as it is; no point creating divisions or bad blood when we need as many people as possible to keep the sport alive.
SK: What advice would you have for new karters?
1) Just head out there and join as many events as possible! Racing is, unfortunately, an expensive hobby, but there’s no better way to gain experience and hone one’s skills. Furthermore, due to motorsport’s catch-22 situation in Singapore, participating in events in the present means a higher chance of more events being organised in the future.
2) Don’t be afraid to talk to and make friends with other racers. You’d be surprised how friendships can continue even away from the racetrack, and besides, you never know who might have lobangs that might lead to further racing opportunities…
3) Get a couple of decently realistic racing games and a steering wheel for your computer at home. Many racing sims these days have very accurate phyiscs, and are an excellent tool for learning racecraft (such as braking points and racing lines), and getting an introduction to a vehicle’s handling dynamics (such as how one’s inputs affects a vehicle’s behaviour, as well as why understeer and oversteer occur and how to prevent them).
SK: Personal question 🙂 How great did you feel when you overtook veteran driver Kenneth Wong on track after 7 years?
JL: It totally didn’t occur to me while I was on track to be honest… I was concentrating on driving as fast as possible to seal the victory for my team. It was only after we came back to the pits and I saw Kenneth getting out of his kart and taking of his helmet that I thought, “Hang on a minute, this feels awfully familiar…” I guess I was rather amused how after so long things had come full circle, with the disciple finally beating the shi fu!