James Lee, Jon Lee and Team Principal, Mr Lawrence Soh at the Rok Cup 2015 (Round 4) podium ceremony on 11 July 2015, KF1 Circuit. Photo Credits: Jennifer Han
(1) Firstly congratulations on finishing as the Singapore Senior Rok DVS champion for 2015. Many in the local Asean karting community already know or have heard of you. For the benefit of those who haven’t, can you share with us your karting history and your performance credentials in the competitions you’ve entered since first racing competitively?
I started racing in the Cadet category when I was 9 years old. Besides winning the Singapore Karting Championship, I have also stepped on the podium for oversea races such as finishing 2nd runner up in the Sangari International race and Rotax Invitational during my cadet years.
Most recently, I was crowned Singapore Karting Junior Champion. In my Junior years, I have also finished on the podium for the Xeramic Challenge held in Sepang Malaysia and other Asian Karting Open Championship races in Macau, Indonesia and the Philippines.
(2) Has 2015 been your busiest race season since racing competitively? Apart from the Rok Cup which you finished champion and will be heading to the ROK Cup World Final in Lonato later this October, I also understand you are racing the Asia Max Challenge and X30 Challenge series as well.
Well, not exactly as compared to year 2013 when I was racing in the Asia Rotax series, AKOC series and SKC rounds, not only racing in Singapore and Malaysia, I have to fly to a few other ASEAN countries to compete.
2015, the races are mainly concentrated in Singapore and Malaysia but they are held very near in terms of race weekends.
Yes, I will be racing in the ROK Cup World Finals in Italy, representing Singapore in the ROK DVS category.
Currently I am also leading the X30 Challenge series after 2 rounds and looking forward to next 2 rounds in November.
As for the Asia Max Challenge, I have raced 4 rounds, due to school commitments; I may not be able to complete all rounds.
(3) Which drivers have been your main competitors during the year? Has there been a driver that are you have been benchmarking yourself and your performance against this year?
I would say that the main competitors will be the local Senior Champions like Amin Noorzilan and Thaddeus Lee.
I do not benchmark myself against anyone, just try my best & achieve the best results I can in each race.
(4) What are your racing plans for 2016?
It is difficult to say now as I will need to focus on my studies, especially since 2016 will be my first year in junior college.
I would like to continue racing in the Asia Max Challenge but maybe try out the DD2 category and probably do another year of the ROK and X30 series too. Single seater or car racing is also an option if budget allows.
(5) As someone who has seen the recent growth of karting in Singapore since Kartright Speedway opened, what do you think about the current state of junior racing in Singapore? If you were asked for an opinion, which areas of Singapore karting can be further enhanced by the series owners, track owners and the SMSA?
The Juniors basically are the drivers that graduated from the Cadets. During my year, there were fewer Cadet drivers and some of them did not continue into the next phase thus we see much lesser Junior drivers.
Having said that, since the opening of KF1 track in Kranji, we can see many more Cadet drivers participating in local and Malaysia races. So, I think the number of Junior drivers will increase eventually.
I think that besides asking the track and series owners to do more, the Local Media need to help make Singapore Karting scene more popular and interesting to the public. Very seldom do we get news on our local racers and races.
As for SMSA, probably the association can do more by reaching out to potential sponsors that can help out local talented and aspiring drivers.
(6) Your schooling and ECA schedule looks as comprehensive as does your racing schedule. How do you achieve the balance of performance between good results at the track and in school?
From Monday to Friday, I spend almost three quarter of my time each day in school, while Sundays I attend tuitions. Stay focus and diligently finished all projects and homework assigned. Honestly speaking, I do not spend much time in practicing on the kart compared to a lot of other drivers.
Most of the time, I just join the races and do my practices on race weekend itself. This allowed me to have less absenteeism from school to go racing.
(7) What are your academic plans next year? JC or Poly? Do you intend to study at the local universities or further your studies overseas?
I’m studying in Victoria School and currently in my Year 4 of IP which is a 6-year programme - Victoria-Cedar Alliance Intergrated Programme (VCA IP) jointly offered with Cedar Girls’ Secondary School (CGSS) and their afflicated college, Victoria Junior College (VJC). Thereafter, I will be admitted to VJC next year and hopefully to a local university after that.
(8) Have you ambitions of what career you intend to make for yourself in a couple of years? Likewise, what are your racing profession aspirations moving forward?
My ambition is of course, to be a racer. If not I’m looking into medicine. My racing aspirations will depends on how much sponsorship we can secure in the future. I have already tested a single seater race car last year, hopefully I can do some races too.
(9) Your father, James Lee is a champion karter who spent time with yourself and your brother to work on your racecraft. Your mother helps support the PR side of your racing activities. For the aspiring youth and parents that wish to pursue their racing dreams, can you impart any words of advice or encouragement regarding the family support and encouragement? Are there any sacrifices that must be made to pursue one’s dreams?
Well, racing is an expensive sport. Unlike some of the drivers who have the funds readily for them, I was lucky enough to be able to race because we are able to do it with on a shoe string budget through my dad’s arrangement as a mechanic and team manager. I was also lucky to have some sponsors that came forward to support me.
For anyone who aspires to pursue their racing dreams, the most important thing is to firstly get the support of his family members. It is just like any other sports but more costly, with the family support, I am sure the dream will not end so easily. I don’t think there are any sacrifices that need to be made just that in this sport, financial capability is important.
(10) Would you like to give a shout-out to your sponsors? I understand that you have a new team sponsoring you. What CRG chassis are you using and what do you like about it?
I would like to thank Eagle Eye Centre and CooperVision for giving me a crystal clear vision whenever I’m racing (regardless rain or shine). At the same time make me look so good (without glasses) each time I stand on the podium with all the cameras flashing at me.
Yes, my Singapore races are sponsored by team TPCRG (The Podium Club) which is run by Mr.Lawrence Soh.
I am racing on the CRG KT2 chassis which is a 30mm all round chassis. The chassis is easy to be set and has a lot of grip at the front for fast turn in thus making it very suitable for twisty track like KF1 circuit.
Lastly to any firms, companies, privateers and associations who are interested in getting involved to support a local talented aspiring driver, please check out my website at, www.jonleexh.com, any form of sponsorship is welcome.
On reclaimed land in the vicinity of Changi is an area which hosts Singapore’s Aviation Airshow every 2 years.
In May this year, the area turned home to the Changi Karting Circuit; Singapore’s 2nd and newest karting track. At just under 1.1km in length with over 12 turns, the track is a different beast from Singapore’s other track; Kartright Speedway and provides residents in Singapore an opportunity to race at more than a single circuit throughout the year.
With its last community race at Malacca in 2012, the Karting Singapore community returned to the race track on the 13 July 2013. Not everyone who wanted to be there could attend as the Karting Singapore community had to postpone the original event date of 22 June due to the worst haze to affect Singapore in the last 16 years.
Fortunately, clear skies prevailed on event day and at 5.00pm with darkness fast approaching, the event began proper. After registration, participants were sent to the briefing room to sit for the safety video and the track briefing. The format for the day for everyone was a 10 minutes practice followed by 12 laps of racing around CKC’s full length track configuration.
The 32 that showed up were a diverse group of participants from all walks of life - but all were united in the interest of racing. In summary there were about 20 competing in the Under 70kg class and 12 competing in the Over 70kg class. Whilst over half had previously attended previous Karting Singapore events, we had a sizeable number of new members joining the community as well. After all the admin had been done, the participants took to the track for the real business of the day. In the first practice session, Riku Alatalo, one of the top sim racing drivers in the world, took pole with a 1.00.356 followed by a regular polesitter, Ron Tay on 1.00.501 and local motorsports writer, Jonathan Lim on 1.00.655. The karts were reassembled on to the grid and the field of 32 drivers were split into 2 segments of 16 names based on their fastest qualifying time.
Finals 2 saw an upset victory when Calum Kozma the race winner in 12.34.831 mins was given a 20 second penalty by CKC’s supervising race officials for a race position of 7th. Having finished less than a second behind Calum Kozma, the Winner of Consolation Finals 2 award went to Low Fai Ming.
Finals 1 saw the fastest 16 drivers in qualifying take to the grid. With 16 karts on the grid, there were battles all through the field with karts running 3-4 karts abreast on the rear straights and into the sharp hairpin. Even with the tight field, 6 drivers produced fastest laps under 1.01 minutes (Riku Alatalo 1.00138, Ron Tay 1.00.174, David Lau 1.00.374, Jonathan Lim 1.00.539, Kevin Pang 1.00.736 & Shawn Hahnmann 1.00.781). The win for the day belonged to Ron Tay who finished the race in 12.17.203 mins with Riku Alatalo finishing only 9 hundreds of a second behind. 3rd and 4th were equally hard fought with David Lau finishing 3 hundreds of a second ahead of Jonathan Lim. Shawn Hahnemann, the first of the Over 70kg class, Kevin Pang and Jeffrey Sim were the next few finishers in queue for the battle of 3rd place.
The official results and medal awards for the day were:
Clubman (Under 70KG Class)
1st - Ron Tay
2nd - Riku Alatalo
3rd - David Lau
4th - Jonathan Lim
5th - Kevin Pang
Clubman (Over 70KG Class)
1st - Shawn Hahnmann
2nd - Pravin Laure
3rd - Andrew Loke
4th - Mark Lange
5th - Charles Theseira
Winner of Consolation Finals 2 - Low Fai Ming
Quotes from Winners:
Ron Tay, winner (Under 70kg)
3 Years ago, i joined Karting Singapore for my 1st race at Kartright. Time flies and this time round, I have the chance to once again take part in a Rental Kart Race with my karting friends at the new Changi Karting Circuit. I think to most of us, it was not just a race but it was also a good catch up session for most us. There were a few new guys who were very quick and fast around the track too making my win this time to be a closed one. I enjoyed myself very much and I’m definitely looking forward to the next event. Thank you Mark and guys at Karting Singapore for everything.
Shawn Hahnmann, winner (Over 70kg)
A beautiful sport that gives u an adrenaline rush like no other.. and the thunderkart event gives u that adrenaline.. It’s thrilling, exciting n most importantly fun !!! Great big thanks to Mark Lange for making such a beautiful sport enjoyable but also dirt cheap for all to enjoy. In summary, Karting Singapore’s community day out at CKC was great fun and the track management went out of their way to make the event an enjoyable one for everyone.
With prizes given out to the podium winners at the end of the event, Karting Singapore’s Mark Lange also handed out the long overdue 2012 championship series awards to the following drivers:
Thunderkart 2012 Series (Clubman Under 70KG Class)
1st - Ron Tay
2nd - Kevin Pang
3rd - David Lau
Thunderkart 2012 Series (Clubman Over 70KG Class)
1st - Hamizan Ali
2nd - Mark Lange
3rd - Charles Theseira
Quotes from Winners:
Ron Tay, Series winner (Under 70kg)
I’m happy and thrilled to have won the 2012 Driver Series. Having joined Karting Singapore 3 years ago from being a newbie to a ’semi-amateur’ with the guidance of the other experience Karters. This win is considered as a motivation for me to going in Karting. This season proves to be challenging as 2 out of 4 races were held over at Malacca Track instead of our usual familiar Kartright. With the end of this season race, I’m already looking forward to next year race season with opportunity to maybe race in even more tracks. Thank u to Mark and all Mods in Karting Singapore for all the events that you all have organized.
Hamizan Ali, Series winner (Over 70kg)
“It’s nice to finally achieve a good overall result after 4 years of being in KartingSingapore. It has been exciting to have been able to race with familiar and new faces alike. I’m happy to have been a part of every race this year, despite the ultra-short sprint races @ KartRight That said, I have to admit that luck was on my side considerably more often this year compared to previous years. After all, it’s all rental karts so there’s always bound to be a time where each of us would occasionally draw a lemon kart. So getting a lemon kart less often this year definitely helped me in terms of championship points. I would like to thank Mark and the organising co for making KS events possible, managing the transport aspect (for overseas tracks) and of course, always trying to keep the costs down.”
Having been postponed from a month earlier, Race 3 of the 2012 series was held on the evening of 8 Sep 2012. Back it was then to Kartright Speedway in Singapore for more racing action.
Race 3 saw many new faces among the 30 drivers racing for position across 2 categories with the majority of drivers in the hotly contested Under 70kg Class. The action was fast and furious - moreso because the evening’s proceedings had to be completed within an hour of time. This meant that the 2 Heat events would require to be held to 6 laps each. With a mixed grid created based on the electronic equivalent of drawing lots, the Pre-Finals set the tone for the evening with intense racing as the fast drivers gridded towards the rear had to battle their way to the front within the short 6 lap window.
The Finals were made up of 3 separate sessions; dividing drivers based off their Total Time taken to complete the PreFinal of 6 laps. Drivers in both classes were mixed throughout the 3 sessions with the bulk of the Over 70KG Class in the 2nd split. Once again, racing action was intense - drivers learnt about their kart characteristics only upon entering the first corner - this made it extra exciting as the drivers who accustomed themselves to their kart faster, gained an advantage. The lead grouping finished their 6 laps between times of 4.49 - 5.05 mins, the middle grouping in 4.50 - 5.10 mins and the final grouping in 4.59 - 5.35. The fastest lap of the Finals went to Jonathan Lim who drove a 46.27
The podium winners in the 2 classes went to:
1st - Charles Theseira
2nd - Hamizan Ali
3rd - Mark Lange
1st - David Lau
2nd - Ricky Leong
3rd - Kevin Pang