Kartmaster Racing Chief and co-principal of Kartmaster Drakar Racing team, Mr. Roland Chong is a well-respected veteran and technical expert in Asia, and has an impressive track record of unearthing and grooming top Asian drivers, even beyond karting.
In this Q&A, Roland Chong share his thoughts and plans on growing motorsports in Singapore.
What makes you decide to enter into a merger with Drakar Racing Team?
Roland: The key word here is team. Motor racing is never an individual sport no matter how talented the driver may be. If the team doesn’t deliver a complete package for the driver he can never be at the top of his game.
Kartmaster has always been strong in the technical side of racing with a history stretching all the way back to the sixties when my father was the rare few locals that took motor racing seriously competing in the Old Upper Thomson circuit. He accompanied me and my brother in every kart races around the region. He taught me everything he knew about motor racing and racecraft.
Personally, I have raced successfully regionally and it has always been a hands on affair. I take care of my own engine and karts including rebuilding engines and tweaking it for ultimate performance.
Moving on Kartmaster was started to provide one stop solution for young karters seriously interested in winning races not just in Singapore but regionally.
It is the years of experience in the technical and racecraft domain at the top level that I bring to Kartmaster-Drakar. The combination of Kartmaster and Drakar is synergistic because a complete package is not just about technical and racecraft knowledge. There is the organizational and operational management area to take care of. There is the marketing area. There is the financing area and a host of other issues to deal with. I am confident Drakar is a very well organized outfit with serious intent in the motor racing world.
In short, there is awesome synergy if I may quote Kungfu Panda.
Raymond spoke about wanting to see Singapore motor-racing succeed. How do you think you can help him achieve that?
As I have mentioned Drakar is a serious organization with serious intent in the motor racing world. My role is to fill in the gaps in the technical and racecraft domain. I have travelled all over the world participating in CIK kart races at international level. The experience I can share with young and aspiring karters will be invaluable. It is never how fast you run that determines your success in life. It is whether your running in the right direction that makes all the difference. Similarly, it is not how fast you can drive but whether you can finish at the front when the race ends that is important.
You are constantly scouting for talent. What attributes do you look for in a young racer? What makes you think they can, or cannot, excel in the sport?
Success or failure in any sport is all about passion. That is the first criteria. Next comes determination. A determined person is one that will train and train until he gets it right. Scientists have shown that to master anything you would have to spend ten thousand hours at it or ten years. However, you must spend those hours doing it right. In other words you need a teacher or mentor who is an expert to guide you through the process without which you would merely be reinforcing bad habits and wrong techniques when you train.
If you have passion and determination you are half way there. When you find that mentor you are three quarter way there. The last quarter or the last mile is the hardest. It is having deep pockets. Or if you don’t have it find an organization like Drakar to help you fulfil your potential.
You have been working with Drakar’s young drivers for a while now. What’s your assessment of their potential?
It is still early days yet to gauge. But from what I am seeing it is very promising. Hopefully, we can do the talking on the tracks rather than blowing hot air now.
We see that you have brought in two of your own drivers into Kartmaster-Drakar. Tell me more about them.
See above. But seriously speaking this is not a new road for me. Take Formula One driver Jenson Button for example. When he was karting my driver Firhan Ali was in the same race as him in Italy. In that race he was third and my driver thirteen. It was my driver’s first year in the European circuit and his result was credible. He proved himself by being the Asian champion. I can tell you more war stories but I rather focus on the now and the future.
Of course, apart from drivers, the karts are important as well. Where karts are concerned, you’re the expert. Will your technical expertise give Kartmaster-Drakar a big advantage?
I would like to tell you the technical area is the most important. But that is not true. Successful race team is always about team effort and delivering a complete package. In this respect Drakar has a huge role to play in the success of our racing team. Every member of the team is important.
Have you set any targets for all the boys this season?
As I have said I would rather do my talking on the tracks. But to be sure if they are not front runners I would be extremely disappointed indeed.