BY CHERYL TAY
While the Formula 1 drivers are the main stars for this weekend's SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, there are also the support races, which are essentially other race series outside of Formula 1 that hold a round or two of the championship on the same weekend.
This offers more race action and also the opportunity to learn about other tiers of motorsports.
This year, in addition to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA), there are two new support races to the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix — the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific and the GP2 series, which served as a stepping stone to Formula 1 for drivers such as Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg.
Singaporeans driving under the floodlights of the Marina Bay street circuit this weekend include Yuey Tan in the PCCA, Greg Teo in the Ferrari Challenge, and Ringo Chong who will be driving for both the PCCA and the Ferrari Challenge.
Chong, 46, is the most experienced racing driver of the three, going way back to his younger years when he won rallies and kart races in the car parks.
Familiar with the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, Chong has raced at every one of it since 2008 and even won the Aston Martin Asia Cup (AMAC) round in 2009. He finished second in Class B of the PCCA at Singapore last year.
Having won the overall title of the inaugural Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific series last year, the China-based driving instructor is looking to repeat that success. He is now standing fourth in the driver championship with two more rounds to go including Singapore.
"I'm still healing from my liver abscess and I hope to be at 100 per cent by Friday. It will be tiring to drive in two series, so now I'm trying hard to rest and train up well. Wish me luck and cheer me on as I aim to win the Ferrari Challenge this weekend for Singapore — I want to do it again!" said Chong.
While Chong is racing in the Trofeo Pirelli category of the Ferrari Challenge for professional competition drivers, Teo is competing in the Coppa Shell category which is a separate classification within the overall results for amateur gentlemen drivers.
Teo, 37, has driven at the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix in 2008 in the PCCA and in 2009 in the AMAC.
Currently third in class, the Citispa managing director is driving for Ital Auto Racing (backed by authorised Ferrari distributor in Singapore) and eager to triumph on home soil. He said, "If there is one race I have to win this season, it is this home race. It is awesome to be back racing here!"
The fifth stop of the 2012 PCCA, Tan, 30, is hoping for better luck this weekend. Although he clinched his first category win in Round 5 at Ordos, Inner Mongolia, he did not finish three of the eight races so far.
"It's a dream come true to make it into my fourth SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. I mean, I never dreamed of making it the first year and it is good to be part of possibly the best F1 race on the planet. I am hoping for a top 10 overall finish and to get onto the podium in Class B. It will not be easy, as the quality of the grid has improved immensely over the years with top Asian drivers in the mix," the Dorr McElrea Racing Team driver told me.
Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at www.cheryl-tay.com.