Above: Roland Chong of Kartmaster (left) and Raymond Low of Drakar Racing are co-team principals of Kartmaster Drakar Racing Team.
By Cheryl Tay
Establishing an international motor-racing academy in Singapore is a tall order, but that has not stopped several passionate individuals from setting up outfits to pursue this goal.
Instead of pitting themselves against each other, a merger of two karting teams was announced last Saturday.
What was previously Kartmaster Team, headed by Roland Chong, and Drakar Racing Team, owned by Raymond Low, is now a combined effort known as Kartmaster Drakar Racing Team.
Sometime late last year, both team principals decided it was best to join forces to achieve greater results.
Said Low: "We realised that both of us want to see Singaporeans excel on the international stage. For Singaporeans to excel in motorsports, there has to be a platform for young drivers to build a strong foundation and that can be done only through karting.
"There are raw gems out there waiting to be unearthed and, given the right tools, support and opportunities, they can be polished into bright diamonds.
"We decided to pool our resources and expertise to form Kartmaster Drakar and we aim to provide a professional environment for young local talents to learn, train and compete."
The Kartmaster Drakar team admitted that it is a "lofty goal" and "a long and arduous journey" to aim to become a local motorsport academy with a Singaporean race on the elite international stage, but that has not deterred them from trying.
Said Chong: "We do realise that our ambition requires big commitments. We are not naive to suggest we can achieve that goal now.
"It is a big project that requires the support of all Singaporeans, the corporate partners, the media and the public sector. We start by putting the little bricks in place in a bid to see that dream come to fruition."
The pioneering drivers of Kartmaster Drakar are Singaporeans Mohammad Nasri Naufal, Jon Lee, Josh Lee, Santosh Bala Kerisnan Thevar and Indonesians Anderson Martono and Darryl Wenas.
They will be competing in the Singapore Karting Championship (SKC) and also the Asian Karting Open Championship.
Funding is crucial for sustainability and Kartmaster Drakar has managed to secure corporate partners such as UrbanGroup, Aston Martin Singapore, Magma Studios, Liqui Moly, Fullerton Resources and DHL.
The karting scene in Singapore has picked up over the last two years and the launch of Kartmaster Drakar follows on the heels of AutoInc Racing, another local karting outfit formed last December.
AutoInc Racing are owned by Benjamin Tan, managing director of independent luxury-car broker AutoInc, in partnership with RL Karting Malaysia and Zhuhai-based ART Motorsport.
Since their inauguration, the seven karters of AutoInc Racing have been aggressively engaged in pre-season testing to prepare for the national karting season that begins this month and ends in December.
A new venue has been added to the SKC - three of the five rounds will be held at the F1 Village, where Turns One and Two of the F1 Marina Bay street circuit are.
The writer is a freelance motoring journalist and an established motorsports blogger.
This article was first published in The New Paper.