Daim up to speed, keeps Asian junior motor racing title
S'porean karter, 15, wins last round - his 4th victory in 6 races this year
ALL season, local karter Daim Hishammudin has had to cope with the pressure of retaining his Asian junior crown.
But while others might have found the going hard, the 15-year-old Singaporean did not buckle.
On Saturday, he kept his crown, finishing 64 points ahead of Malaysia's Mitchell Cheah in the Rotax Max Challenge Asia series.
Indonesia's Presley Martono was third.
Being the defending champion, there were naturally more eyes focused on him this season - 35 competitors in his junior category, compared to fewer than 30 last year.
"I know others are watching me but I tend not to be bothered about these things," he said over the phone from Pekan, Malaysia, where he won the last round of the season. "I just focus on myself and my races.
"This season felt easier than the last as we had good set-up in our car and it was faster."
Out of the year's six rounds, the Caterham Racing Academy driver took the chequered flag four times.
He finished second and fifth in the other two races.
So commanding was his lead that all he needed on Saturday to retain his title was a top-14 finish in the pre-final.
Starting fifth on Saturday, he snatched the lead from the fifth lap and never looked back.
All these, despite having to adjust to some big life changes this year.
Having been based in Malaysia for the past 10 years, Daim's family moved to Indonesia in July after his father was posted to Jakarta for work.
With all the races this season held in various circuits in Malaysia, it meant shuttling between Indonesia and Malaysia for school and races.
The family has spent just one full weekend in Jakarta since the move.
Said Daim: "It was tough having to adjust but I think I settled in pretty well."
Added his father Hishammudin Hasan, a director in a consumer goods company: "You've got to give it to him. It's a new environment, new school, new friends and, on top of all that, he has to keep racing.
"I'm really proud that he's taken all the changes really well."
Having won five titles in the past six years, Daim - who has set his sights on becoming a Formula One driver one day - is now mulling over a progression to the Formula open-wheeled races next season.
Said Hishammudin: "We'll have discussions with the Caterham team and firm up plans before the year is out."
This story was first published in The Straits Times on Sept 29, 2013.