After losing a year of racing because of his O levels, Amin Noorzilan, one of Singapore's brightest young drivers, is back.
Although he has yet to return to the form that won him three consecutive national junior karting titles from 2010 to 2012, competing in Round 3 of the X30 Challenge on Saturday has strengthened his ambition of becoming a full-time racer one day.
The first-year Temasek Polytechnic electrical and electronic engineering student was one of the senior participants in the event but found himself stumped by kart balance and engine problems.
Amin placed 11th in his first race and eventually overcame his dismal start to improve and finish seventh in the second race held at the KF1 Karting Circuit in Kranji.
But the disappointing results did not dampen his drive. The 18-year-old said: "I'll try to practise more and see what problems come up with my car, and try to resolve the issue before the next race.
"Hopefully I can prepare myself more for anything that's going to happen."
In contrast, he had finished second in the two earlier rounds of the X30 Challenge.
The X30 Challenge is a four-round competition with five categories - cadet (for drivers aged eight to 13), junior (12 to 16), senior (15 and above), master (30 and above) and veteran (45 and above).
Billed as Singapore's largest karting championships, Saturday's event saw 76 competitors from seven countries.
The competition gave Amin a chance to refresh his reflexes and footwork. A year before he took a break to prepare for his O levels, he raced in four rounds of the CSAI Italian Karting Championship, where he was placed in the top 10 each time.
Having raced since he was eight, when his father Noorzilan Ahmad introduced him to the sport, Amin aims to progress from open-cockpit single seaters to a higher racing category one day.
He said: "I hope to be a race driver, whether in F1 or any other racing category because I love to race."
Despite karting being an expensive sport, his technical manager father and housewife mother have been supportive.
AutoInc Racing, the local outfit he races for, also sponsors him when he competes overseas. That helps to ease the burden on his parents. His Italy stint cost more than €55,000 (S$84,000), which was partly paid for by his team and kart manufacturer Birel.
The overall top three in the junior and senior categories will race at the X30 World Final at Le Mans, France, next year.
In the cadet category, Matthew Facey claimed the top spot, while Samuel Dicker clinched the junior category.
The winner of the senior category was Yeo Hong Yang, while the master and veteran categories went to David Bondi and Lee Lung Nien respectively. Round 4 will be held on Nov 21.