Race buffs get their fill at lab and garage

Ferrari test driver Marc Gene (third from left) with the winners of The Straits Times-Shell contest, who were hosted at the Shell Sky Suite and toured Shell's trackside laboratory and Ferrari's pit garage.
Ferrari test driver Marc Gene (third from left) with the winners of The Straits Times-Shell contest, who were hosted at the Shell Sky Suite and toured Shell's trackside laboratory and Ferrari's pit garage.PHOTO: SHELL/GETTY IMAGES

Fast cars may be the highlight of this week's Singapore race, but for a few lucky Straits Times readers, it was a different mode of transportation that proved equally unforgettable yesterday.

As part of a tie-up between the newspaper and energy giant Shell - a long-time partner with Formula One team Ferrari since the 1930s - three contest winners and their guests were treated to a memorable bumboat ride across the iconic Singapore River before being hosted at the Shell Sky Suite.

Once at the exclusive hospitality suite, the guests got to meet the Scuderia's test driver Marc Gene, who had 36 F1 starts and scored five career points.

For the 30-minute exclusive guided tour, the three winners visited Shell's trackside laboratory and were shown how testing of race fuel being used by the famous Italian outfit is done.

The highlight of the evening was a close-up look of the highly-restricted and bustling Ferrari garage as drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were busy putting their cars through their paces in last night's practice session.

Said Christanto Suryadarma, 51, an ardent Ferrari fan since 1998: "This was a dream come true and I would like to thank The Straits Times and Shell for giving us this amazing opportunity.

"Seeing the cars up close, you really see what works of art they are."

The eight-student members of the Nanyang Technological University's Diesel Car Racing Team, who competed at the Shell Eco-marathon earlier this year, were also invited to the suite.

All of them had front-row seats to live trackside action of the Pit Building at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, which stages the sport's only full night race.

Said another contest winner Karen Yeoh, 52, who brought her husband Lim Khoo Sun with her: "This is our first time watching the Grand Prix and we'll never forget the experience. We're very lucky to have won this special pass today."

Started in 2008, this is the eighth edition of the Singapore Grand Prix. Last year's race was won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, his second triumph in the Republic.

The popular Briton went on to clinch his second world championship.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2015, with the headline 'Race buffs get their fill at lab and garage'. Print Edition | Subscribe