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The Otomotif College (TOC) and Ultra Racing work to inspire new generation of motorsports enthusiasts.
As the crowds were entering the Sepang International Circuit for the Japan Super GT weekend on 9 and 10 June 2012, they could not help but stop at the adjacent car park and watch cars of different makes and models negotiate graceful twists and turns as drivers sought to outdo each other. Welcome to the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials Challenge 2012, an event where amateur and veteran drivers alike come together to share their love of fast cars and motorsports.
The premise of a gymkhana is simple and often requires little more than a parking lot and road cones. At the the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials Challenge 2012, paired drivers drove parallel to each other as they weaved around the cones in a predetermined setting. The Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials Challenge is organised by Kuraz Events and Wheelspin Malaysian Motorsports Group. Its manager, Akina Teo is a 15-year veteran of motorsports who hopes to inspire public interest in motorsports, especially among youths. Gymkhana events aren't new in Malaysia, and are very much a grassroots event motion that is supported by the efforts of dedicated organisers and a devoted fan base. Hoping to provide students a safe, legal and practical outlet to hone their motorsport passion, The Otomotif College co-sponsored the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials Challenge 2012.
Akina Teo with Leona Chin and Faye Kusairi, the roses in Ultra Racing Motorsport Division.
The gymkhana events are fully sanctioned and legal, and come with a low entry fee and no-frills setup to make it accessible for amateurs. In fact, one can even participate in the event with a stock car and no racing experience. Events like these are often a first introduction into the world of motorsports for many aspirants. The no-frills setup are deliberate on the part of the organisers. Glitz, glam and pro racers may look cool and sexy, but they aren't rookie friendly. By keeping the events low profile, rookie drivers can build up their skills and confidence without feeling pressured to go up against the pros. In fact, at the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials Challenge 2012, the organisers kept the competition level by pitting similar cars and driving experience together.
A common misconception about motorsports is it being a dangerous combination of high speed and reckless driving. Controlled, legal events like the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials Challenge 2012 actually promote better driving skills, car care and road and safety awareness. Flawless driving, good control and sound judgement are the determining factors to victory in a drift event where most of the action happens in first gear. If anything, barrelling through corners at high-speed is the kind of mistake that separates the amateurs from the veterans.
More importantly, events like these offer a legitimate avenue for drivers to race and drift at, and at an affordable rate too. Akina hopes gymkhana events will curb the problem of illegal street racing. "Events are carefully monitored, and drivers are warned if they drive recklessly and can be red-flagged if they continue to misbehave. We also enforce strict safety rules for both drivers and spectators, and in no way will we compromise on them," says Akina.
Akina Teo explaning the course layout of the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials 2012 to The Otomotif College's Alfred Foo.
Akina emphasizes that the gymkhanas aren't just for the drivers, it's also for the spectators and motorsports enthusiasts too. It's not uncommon for someone to come away from a gymkhana with a newfound interest in tuning high performance cars or simply learning to drive better. Being a car modification specialist, Ultra Racing and Akina also offer drivers sound advice for tuning up cars. "The point is to instill passion in the sport. As they gain more experience, drivers are naturally interested in modifying their cars to perform better. But they should also take into consideration skill and budget constraints. There is no point in putting extensive and expensive modifications to a car if the driver is incapable of handling it safely."
At gymkhanas, it's not uncommon to find rookies, including students (including TOC's very own Awangku Faresmane) mingling with the pros as they generously share out tips for the budding drivers to improve their performance. Akina says "the pros do want to see the circle of drivers widen, and they are most happy to mentor rookies so they have more people to compete against!"
Drivers compete head to head to clock the best lap time at the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials 2012.
At the Ultra Racing Gymkhana Trials 2012, 47 drivers took part in the two-day challenge and came away happy and hungry for more. Needless to say, they're definitely going to have their wish granted in a bigger way, as the events are stepping up from one-off occurrences into a regular series! If you've always wanted to venture into motorsports, now's a great time to try! Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
For more information about Ultra Racing gymkhana events, check out Kuraz Event's Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/KurazEvents