As promised, our Champion Couch Racer was handed a car to race at Round 4 of Saturday Night Fever. And boy did he have a great race, showing the veterans that sometimes a person born with skill can be equally as good as someone with experience, think Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso back in ’07.
Ng Hoi Yew, or better known as Yew, outshone five other Couch Racers. Selection was done a few months ago when Ignition.my organized the Couch Racer Challenge at Motorsport Playground. The idea was to get anyone who visited the Playground to put down their fastest lap on Need For Speed and we will invite the Fastest 16 drivers for a final showdown.
Yew turned out to be the most elegibile to drive at SNF. Selection was done based on overall performance and not outright speed. We had to know that we could trust the driver to handle the car, so not only was speed a criteria, but so was dicipline, the ability to think under pressure, and feel for the car.
We also put the five selected drivers through training to get prepared for the race. We teamed up with veteran racer Admi Sharul to teach the Couch Racer’s on how to handle understeer and oversteer, how to brake correctly and avoid obstacles. We even organised a drift clinic for them to better understand the dynamics of throttle and steering control. All to get the selected driver prepared for the race.
We had promised a Satria Neo R3 to be driven at SNF, but Proton ultimately backed out of the deal and so we resorted to more sporting friends, Mat Speed. They were kind enough to loan us their tuned Satria Neo for Yew to trash
Yew was a total track freshie and the regular track days was the only experience he had on track.
“It was just totally exciting. Before the race, I had no idea how it felt to race at the North Track at night. I only had experienced the full track on open track days. Moreover, its a race. Many things went through my mind. I kept thinking what I would need to do if this or that happens. I also kept seeking advice from a friend of mine. Anyhow, I ended up with no plan in mind before the race, because that was my 1st time.”
Yew raced in all three heats in the Hyrax Oil Campro Chase category where he had to race against 12 other seasoned drivers. We asked him to describe heat by heat what was running through his mind:
1st Heat: I was sooooo excited as I was placed 1st on the starting grid. I was driving a bit too fast starting from Turn 5 till the last corner. The speed I brought in the race compared to the warm up and the practice session was really different. I ended up loosing control during my third lap at Turn 7. That cost me two places and I ended up at seventh.
Lesson learnt: slow down when you know you are already too fast.
2nd Heat: Due to oil leak from the previous category’s race. there was powder from Turn 6 to Turn 7. To play safe, I slowed down the car every time I approached that corner. On the fourth lap, I was overtaken by another Satria Neo at Turn 1. Reason? I was still taking my racing line even though there is a car right behind me. Lesson learnt: defensive line!!!!
3rd Heat: By this round I started to get used to the race and also the track. I had did well by just looking at the comparison of the best lap time for both 3 heats. I also started to have some “dogfights” with opponents.
When asked about the best part of the race, Yew replied, “the best part of the race was during Heat 3. I had about three laps of “dogfights” with Mr Ramsey, who was driving a Satria Neo ClubSport. I have been told that he is an instructor and also an experienced driver. His car was better handling but mine had more power. I ended up loosing my placing to him at the very last corner of final lap. That session was totally unforgettable. Ramsey came to me after the race, “good one, clean fight. That was impressive!”
The scariest moment for all race virgins is almost always the first turn and true enough Yew said that his scariest moment came at Turn 1 at the start of the race. He mentioned that because there were so many cars fighting for position, there were some spin outs and some door to door scrapiing. “I needed to back off, the owner of the car had told me to treat the car like my own before the race, and so I did.”
Yew said that his impressive performance at SNF was ultimately down to the Mat Speed Satria Neo. “The car handling I would say was balanced for me as the modifications done to the handling of the car are only the coil overs, bars, and the alignment adjustment, but I’m not too sure about that. Not much different on the handling part compared to my standard Neo. Somehow, this cars power output is just simply awesome. I was told it has a different cams, management and exhaust system. Although it is not the fastest car in the race, but it just made me come out with the thoughts of doing the same mods on my own Satria Neo.”
Our Couch Racer Series will continue soon as we look for the next victim to be put out on track to experience a race like none other. But as for Round 5 of Saturday Night Fever, that continues on July 30th. Watch for updates.