SINGAPORE, 19 AUGUST 2012: Talk about character. The never-say-die spirit. The refusal to yield to the stiff competition. The steely determination to prove everyone wrong. That’s Opai Naufal.
The 23-year-old put a miserable two months behind him with a spectacular win in the Senior Category at Round 2 of the Singapore Karting Championship (SKC) at the Marina Bay F1 Pit Circuit yesterday.
Opai had a torrid time at the Asian Karting Open Championship (AKOC) the past two months, failing to meet his high expectations at both Round 1 in Macau in June and Round 2 in Manila last month. Inclement weather and self-enforced errors saw that the talented driver failed to earn a podium finish in both races.
But hell-bent on righting all that was wrong, Opai was determined to make his statement – Look out guys, he’s back.
His intent was clear right from the start. Flying off the blocks, such was his focus that he didn’t even notice race officials calling for another formation lap as he raced through his first two turns.
When the race officials were satisfied and race finally resumed, Opai, who started from second place, saw a gap in the first turn and went for the throat. He made his move, overtook the leader Thaddeus Lee from AutoInc, shut the door and never looked back.
Such was Opai’s domineering drive that the race officials could have given him the winner’s trophy there and then.
“I saw the gap and went for it,” said Opai, who now has two Senior SKC wins under his belt this season. “I told myself to be patient, drive carefully, maintain my lead and not make any mistakes. Then, in my last five laps, I went for broke.”
As his kart raced through the finishing line, Opai pumped his right fist repeatedly in the air in a show of unbridled joy.
“It has been a tough two months, with lots of disappointments in AKOC,” said Opai. “This win, I proved to everyone I still have the quality to be champion.”
Opai was not the only Kartmaster Drakar driver who has cause for happiness.
In the Cadet category, Josh Lee, 10, started the race in second spot and was coolness personified. He drove patiently and managed to hold off his rivals to keep his position to the end. It was his second second-placed finish of the SKC season.
“I drove okay and was more concerned about not making any mistakes,” said Josh. “The guy ahead of me was really quick on the track today, and the guy behind me was a big threat. So I just knuckled down and try and keep myself in second spot.”
His elder brother Jon Lee, 13, wasn’t that lucky. The talented Victoria School student started the Junior Category race in pole position, but dropped off the standings within the first few laps. He eventually finished 4th.
“I had to cede my pole position after the first turn and dropped back to 4th as I was trying to avoid a collision,” said Jon. “I managed to fight my way back to 3rd, but my brakes aren’t working very well and a slip in the later stages of the race saw me go back to fourth again.”
His Kartmaster Drakar teammate Santos Bala, also racing in the Junior Category, failed to complete an overtaking move and spun in the final lap and finished 6th.
In the Veterans’ category, Kartmaster Drakar’s Leon Khoo, 51, finished third to complete a happy day at Marina Bay.
“It was a brilliant day,” said Kartmaster Drakar’s co-team principal Raymond Low. “It was a fantastic team effort today and I am particularly pleased with Opai’s performance. I think this is a timely win for him, personally, and a big boost for the team.”
Kartmaster Drakar would like to thank all our mechanics for their tremendous hard work and effort setting the driver’s karts right.
We would also like to thank all our sponsors, family and friends who came down to watch the race and support us during the race.
Also big thanks to our sponsors, Bernard Magrez, Nicolas Feuilatte, Villa Maria, Beam Global for the excellent champagne and wine. Thank you, Shawn Lee from Pure Solution for your kind support and arrangement!
A big big big thanks to Mr. Khim Lee and his impeccable team during this busy period (eve of Hari Raya) for setting up the wonderful reception with delightful spread of food and drinks from CM-PB !
Kartmaster Drakar will next race in Round 3 of the AKOC in Manila on Sept 2.
More photos of 2012 Singapore Karting Championship Round 2 can be found here.