Motor racing: With tracks closed, Singapore drivers find other ways to keep fine-tune their skills

Sean Hudspeth (left) has been using garden tables and chairs as weights and Christian Ho has been staying sharp by racing on a simulator. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SEAN HUDSPETH AND CHRISTIAN HO

SINGAPORE - Local race driver Christian Ho's great start to year, where he finished on the podium at two World Series Karting (WSK) races in Adria, Italy, was brought to an abrupt stop due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing the Italy-based teenager to return to Singapore three months ago.

With no access to a track in Singapore or Malaysia, the 13-year-old, who races with Sauber Karting, has been stuck in neutral gear here but tries to keep his improve his skills training at home on his racing simulator about three to four times a week.

Each session on his set-up, which comprises a racing simulator seat, steering wheel and his PC, lasts for about three hours.

He sometimes competes against his friends and also participates in online league races, including one that was organised by the WSK series, in which he qualified in pole using the Tatuus Formula 3 car on race simulator, Rfactor 2.

"The simulator is much harder to drive and control because you don't get the same level of adrenaline and you can't feel the car as much as in real life, which means some people go all out and drive wild," said Christian, whose team is part of Sauber Motorsport that manages the Alfa Romeo F1 team driven by 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi.

"But I do think that the simulator can help me to improve my race craft and prepare me for the real races."

His off-track training regimen has remained largely the same. He sets aside about an hour on most days to run on the treadmill, lift light weights or do core work and stretches.

He is one of several Singaporean drivers whose seasons have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak but have found ways to hone their craft as they wait to be given the green light to race again.

Andrew Tang, who came in fourth in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in 2016, keeps his reflexes finely tuned through hours spent on his race simulator.

Andrew Tang racing at the CIK-FIA Asia Pacific Championship. PHOTO: KSP PHOTO AGENCY

Inputs like breaking and turning on the machine are almost the same as in real life. He explained: "I've tried to keep sharp using the simulator and it's pretty good because the simulators are quite developed although it's not exactly like what you'd experience in a real car.

"But you can't simulate the physicality of it. When you're driving a car, you can feel a lot of the G-forces, but that's absent in the simulator. When you don't have much choice, it's really the closest thing you can do."

Tang, who participated in the Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race in 2018 and is a driving coach, also clocks in high intensity interval training five times a week.

For Sean Hudspeth, who recently joined GT racing team EasyRace, where he will represent Ferrari at the 2020 Italian GT Championship, the lockdown has only whetted his appetite for hard racing.

He has been keeping himself in prime condition with some improvised workouts ahead of the upcoming season, which begins in Mugello on July 17-19. He flew to Italy on Wednesday but in the preceding month spent in London, he did not let the closure of gyms in the English capital deter him.

A garden table and chair became makeshift weights for strength training.

He said: "Different years have different circumstances, and this year there are gym closures, lockdown and all that, but I'm doing the best that I can and focusing on being well prepared for the season."

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