Nine local drivers revving to do the country proud at Formula Drift S’pore 2012

There is a record 9 local drivers taking part in Formula Drift Singapore this year (photo courtesy of Alvin Tay)There is a record 9 local drivers taking part in Formula Drift Singapore this year (photo courtesy of Alvin Ta …

Despite the lack of a dedicated drift pad and the relatively high costs of building and maintaining a drift car, drift fever reigns in Singapore. For proof of that,  just look at the nine local drivers -- a record number -- who will represent the country at Formula Drift Singapore 2012. Here, we give you the lowdown on who they are.

Ivan Lim
Age: 31
Occupation: Sales manager
Team: Kumho Tires Binter
Car: Nissan Silvia S13
Drifting since 2005
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2008

A pioneer in the Singapore drift scene, Ivan Lim is one of the most experienced drifters around, having participated at regional drifting competitions. A trained car mechanic, Ivan has received training under Japanese drift legend Ken Nomura at Sekia Hills in Japan too. He was the first Singaporean to compete at Formula Drift USA and is one of only two Singaporeans to have taken part in every single instalment of Formula Drift Singapore.

Ivan's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"I'm very excited that there are a lot of new guys coming up — it is encouraging to see the younger generation coming through to ensure continuity of the sport. It is essential to have a renewal process so we can have new blood injected as the sport develops. I hope it goes on like that."

Jansen Tan
Age: 31
Occupation: Product Development Manager
Team: Falken Tires / Stamford Tyres
Car: Nissan Silvia S15
Drifting since 2002
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2008

Jansen Tan has been a key name in the local drifting community and was the highest local finisher back in Formula Drift Singapore 2009. Work commitments and marriage preparations saw him take a one-year hiatus from competitive drifting in 2011. But he did not stay away from his love for cars, as he built his V8-powered Nissan S12. Back in the business this year, he is aiming to take part in the entire Formula Drift season, and not just the Singapore leg.

Jansen's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"So long as there is Formula Drift here, there is something for us all to aim towards. An international competition of this level gives us a purpose to strive harder and improve our skills and our rides. More private companies are coming in to support the sport and over the past year, there has been at least one drift clinic per quarter for us to practise. I hope this continues as it will be helpful for everybody."

Felix Lim
Age: 35
Occupation: Self-employed
Team: Team Stamford Tyres HKS Garage R
Car: Nissan Silvia S13
Drifting since 2008
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2008

Felix Lim is the other Singaporean, aside from Ivan Lim, who has competed in every Formula Drift Singapore since 2008. It all started with him getting hooked on watching drifting videos from Japan. Thereafter, Felix Lim found out about a local drift clinic and decided to sign up to learn more about drifting. Since then, he has been part of the Stamford Show Team and regularly perform drift demonstrations at public events.

Felix's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"The technical regulations for Formula Drift are strict and hence a stretch on the budget for a beginner, so perhaps a local drift series would be useful in helping to instill confidence in the ones just starting out. It would be totally awesome to have a Singaporean stand on the Formula Drift podium one day — that will definitely encourage more Singaporean drivers to participate."

Benjamin Chiam
Age: 20
DOB: 12 October 1991
Occupation: Full-time national serviceman
Team: Hot Wheels Drift Team
Car: Toyota Supra 1UZ V8
Drifting since 2008
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Thailand 2009

Benjamin Chiam started drifting even before he got his official driving licence. Participating in drift competitions around the region since the age of 17, Benjamin was influenced by his neighbour, who happened to be Ivan Lim. They became quick friends and under Ivan's guidance, Benjamin progressively became more involved in the sport, even spending two years in Thailand just to learn more about drifting.

Benjamin's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"The only way we can make drifting more popular in Singapore — on the sporting side — is to have a track first, and then things will naturally go from there. That's how it is in every other part of the world. Formula Drift has evolved over the years in Singapore with newer cars, bigger engines, better drivers and lots more smoke. There will be more interest to come, as drifting is also all over the internet now, making a lot of people interested and wanting to start."

Jason Tan
Age: 35
Occupation: Business owner
Team: Team Driftmasters
Car: Nissan Silvia S13
Drifting since 2008
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2010

Jason Tan was a demo drift driver at first, performing at local motorsports events and carnivals. After accumulating two years of experience from performing drift demonstrations, Jason took part in his first drift competition at Batu Pahat Mall in 2010.

Jason's thoughts on the future of development in Singapore:
"Formula Drift Asia has risen to commendable standards in terms of the level of driver skills, the efficient management, the level of exposure and technical specifications of the car too. The Series has become more professional, with Formula Drift USA 2011 champion Daijiro Yoshihara as one of the judges and international drifting stars like Japanese champion Daigo Saito coming here. A  way forward for Singaporean drifters would be to have a feeder series, like a Formula Drift Asia Pro-Am Series, opening up the path to allow new drivers to earn the ranks and work their way into Formula Drift."

Winston Ang
Age: 40s
Occupation: Regional HR director
Team: Westlake Tyres
Car: Nissan Silvia S15
Drifting since 2008
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2010

Winston Ang started out on the management side of the sport, forming local tracking enthusiast club Traction Circle in 2000 and being on the committee of the Porsche Club Singapore for four years now. He never had the desire to engage in competitive motorsport until he discovered drifting. His first official drift competition was the Batu Pahat Drift Competition 2010.

Winston's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"Commercialism is essential if we want to increase the visibility of the sport. Sponsors are key as are venues. The cost to maintain and run a competitive drift car is significantly higher than one that is used for casual drifting so support is essential. Venues for us to train and practise are also key. Media support is also critical for the exposure and returns for sponsors, along with government support in various forms to facilitate all the above."

Geoveen Hi
Age: 39
Occupation: Director
Team: Westlake Performance Tyres with Exotic Tuner
Car: Nissan Silvia S15
Drifting since 2011
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2012

After managing his own drift team — Team Exotic Drift — since 2008, Geoveen Hi is turning rookie driver this year, as he decided to get behind the wheel and compete as a drifter instead. Relinquishing his team manager role, Geoveen started getting more serious about drifting as a competitor in July 2011 and sought help from friends, as well as from professional drifters. Realising that he actually liked drifting, he stepped up his drift practice in Malaysia and competed in competitions too.

Geoveen's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"Singapore needs to get a race track to begin with, and then there will be a place for local drifters to gain confidence and master their drifting skills. Lack of sponsorship will always be an obstacle, as well as getting the right crew support to ensure that the car is at its peak performance to compete well."

Vincent Ng
Age: 33
Occupation: Sales and event manager
Team: Team Falken 9tro/LTM Performance
Car: 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX
Drifting since 2008
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2012

Choosing to get a Subaru Impreza WRX instead of a common drifting vehicle such as a Nissan Silvia has been a real challenge for Vincent Ng. Despite many advising him to change his drift ride, Vincent believes he will be able to succeed in drifting his choice of wheels well, as he seeks inspiration from Japanese drifter Kumakubo-san of Team Orange.

Vincent's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"The two biggest constraints local drifters face, are the legality of their cars, and a lack of a venue to practise on a regular basis.  A drifting academy and a pro-am series will greatly increase the awareness and get the public to recognise drifting as a sport and a form of entertainment. Most importantly, it will teach new drivers the safety aspects of the sport and keep illegal drifting at bay."

Alvin Tay
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Team: Team Westlake
Car: Toyota Supra
Drifting since 2010
First Formula Drift event: Formula Drift Singapore 2012

Having just completed his national service, Alvin Tay is now ready to put in more time and commitment into competitive drifting. A petrolhead since young, watching drifting movies such as 'Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift' made Alvin want to try his hand at drifting. Once he started, the ever-competitive Alvin planned his goals and Formula Drift was a path he set for himself.

Alvin's thoughts on the development of drifting in Singapore:
"One has to start from the bottom and build up confidence and skill. Organising more grassroots drifting events and an amateur series would be good because right now, the only competition we have is Formula Drift and it is too big a jump for most people to dive into."

Local drivers are calling for a feeder competition and a proper race venue to improve the standards here (photo courtesy of Jansen Tan)Local drivers are calling for a feeder competition and a proper race venue to improve the standards here (photo …

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.