The grassroots motorsports events in the country are a pivotal stepping stone for petrol heads and driving enthusiasts to forge ahead in honing and sharpening their interests. Nonetheless, grassroots events are few and far between, making it increasingly frustrating for motor heads to do what they love doing, pushing themselves and their machines to the limit, in a safe and conducive environment that also promotes fostering of ties between the drivers themselves.
GRA is arguably one of the leading autocross communities in the country and this year marks their sixth in providing a strong autocross platform for enthusiasts to get moving with. One of the biggest hindrances in setting up something like this also has to be the lack of sponsors but having such a solid portfolio, GRA has managed to add to their impressive line-up of business partners for 2011.
This year, you’ll be seeing the likes of BFGoodrich Tyres, Red Line Oil, Vanli Genuine Parts, Gophers GPS, EcoCoats Interior Enhancers and PG Perma Glass lending their support to GRA events. Additionally, Renault Sport has also come aboard this year as the official car manufacturer while everybody’s favourite neighbourhood café, Strawberry Fields, now wears the hat of the official café partner. Car detailer Meguiars is back on the roster as well following a two year absence.
This year sees GRA running five rounds with the first having finished at the car park of the Shah Alam Stadium. Getting the action underway was Marcus Chye of Team Lotus. Having won last year’s championship, Chye and his Exige S will start the new season with the ‘1’ plastered on the doors.
Following on Chye’s tail will be Ivan Khong in the BFGoodrich Subaru Impreza while drifter extraordinaire Ee Yoong Cherng will start third in his V8-powered Nissan Skyline R32. The fight will be a nail-biting one this year as some of the top drivers were clocking in times with differences of less than a second between them.
Things in the Grass Class started in the same manner in which it ended last year, with William Lim from Team Vanli Genuine Parts continuing to stamp his dominance in his nimble Suzuki Swift. After the first round, William now leads Class OA (up to 1,500cc) with Alven Lee from Team Red Line Oil and Kennth Chiew from Team EcoCoats in third. It took a great drive from Woo Keen Pong to come home fourth after having to borrow a perodua Kelisa from Charlene Khoo to compete.
“This year’s championship would be interesting as the competition is tough and the top runners are all running Red Line products, which is great for us,” said Howard Goh from Red Line Oil. However, proper engine lubricants alone weren’t enough as last year’s defending champion in Class OC, Julian Pang, suffered a broken engine during the day. He would have to up the ante if he is keen on retaining his title after Mitch Chong from Team Strawberry Fields took the win in his Proton Satria Mivec, followed by Sia Chee Bin from Team PG Perma Glass.
Things weren’t as tight in Class OB as Charlie Ling from Team EcoCoats and his Toyota Levin AE86 strolled home with the win, leaving the rest trailing in his wake. Coming in a distant second was Benjamin Yoong while newcomer Aaric Ooi completed the podium in his Proton Waja. It’s interesting to note too that Ray Leong of Team EcoCoats, who participated in a Nissan 180SX last year, has since sold that ride and was back with a bone stock Nissan Sentra this time around, managing an impressive fifth place.
The overall leader board had the likes of Chye, Ivan and Andy Kow battling it out for the top spot. It was Ivan that led after four cumulative timed runs, leading Chye by a split second although the pair were having a ping pong battle between themselves with the Fastest Time of the Day (FTD). Andy was also a hair’s length behind in third.
The surprise of the day was Mitch and his fully-lightened Satria Mivec that was close to the top three times. His performance clearly demonstrated the importance of weight, or rather the lack of it, in maneuvering the car around the tight layouts of autocross.
This year also saw the return of Meguiars, who were backing Victor Lim and his Mitsubishi Evo 7. “Meguiar’s is once again happy to be involved with Malaysia’s leading autocrossing fraternity, we are looking forward to synergies with GRA,” said Johan Wong, Operations Manager for Meguiars.
As the official manufacturer of GRA for this year, Renault brought one of their Megane RS250 hot hatches to be unleashed on the track. Ian Khong took to the wheel of the car to put it through its paces, marking the first time a machine of this caliber and magnitude has graced a GRA track.
“The car was quite fast around the course which shocked me, considering the size of the car, it was very maneuverable around the slaloms and donuts,” said Ian, the 2004 Asian Autocross Champion.
Strawberry Fields Café, as the official café for GRA, had set up a mobile café at the venue, providing their trademark variety of food and drinks to the participants and spectators throughout the day’s events.
“Drivers need food and water to keep their driving at top level, and it is great that GRA is in synergy with us to bring great food to great drivers,” explained Alwyn Leong, Head of Operations for Strawberry Fields Café.
Sky Sin and his automatic Proton Putra took second spot in the novice class of the Grass Class, the highest he has ever finished since joining the GRA community a year ago. Benjamin came out tops in Class B while Jarryd Tan from Team Gophers was second.
“GRA is about a driver’s community. We are here to promote grassroots motorsports the right way, and going about it correctly is getting the right understanding that licensing and safety of the driver’s is of the upmost importance,” said Low Jian Nin, Managing Director of GRA.
For more information log onto www.grassracingautosports.com.
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