It’s that time of year again for me as I get prepared for my 11th consecutive season with Porsche Motorsport and the Carrera Cup Asia and I must say, I am more excited and more pumped than ever before!
It’s been an off-season a little different to most. In previous seasons, it was always tough to get sponsors in time and financially, it has always been a massive achievement to get the funding needed to complete a competitive season though through the off season in late 2018, I had other challenges that I had not had before.
The Novu Racing Team made a decision in 2018 to continue into the 2019 season, so funding and the team were good to go and things were in place. However, the departure of my old engineer Minal Kanagasundaram, meant that the mechanics that I had since the beginning of my career were now wanted by him, and of course I wanted them to! So this has caused a little bit of instability through the planning stages and to be fair, is probably not going to help anyone in the end. We still have not quite reached an agreement yet though we are getting there!
It is a bit of a pity actually. I credit a lot of what I have learned from him though since we stopped working together at the end of the 2017 season, it has been borderline friendly. There are of course small details behind the scenes that could have caused this, and my ex-teammate and good friend Rodolfo Avila did warn me about what was to happen all the way in 2015. Though as they say, its easy to believe the word of someone if they are teaching you something. It is a transfer of knowledge and sub consciously, perhaps I buried what I saw happening because the performances from the team and me as a driver were getting better. Improvement is addictive and doing well has always been the main target.
Though what has been on the positive side of the story is that for the 2019 season, I have my Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup team engineer, Marcel Schmidt teaming up with me in Asia. Throughout my European season, he was a joy to work with and I hope we can continue where we left off! He engineered me in 2018 on circuits including the Barcelona Circuit, RedBull Ring, Silverstone, Monaco, Hockenheim, and the Hungaroring! So he certainly knows his stuff. Though it will take a bit of time to get to know the circuits here in Asia, so we will need to get up to speed as a team sooner than later if we are to have a chance with the Pro Am title in 2019.
Winning the title is definitely the only target we have in 2019 and I am sure that it won’t be easy. Though there are some exciting new additions to my season that I am mega pumped about.
Firstly, the Suzuka International Circuit has been added to the Carrera Cup Asia calendar for the first time in the series 16 year history. It has always been a wish that I can race there, dubbed the Spa Francorchamps of Asia. I can’t wait!
Along with a brand new race weekend, the sponsorship spread is looking stronger than ever with all of the sponsors from 2018 signing on for the 2019 season as well. NOVU Medical Aesthetics continues its partnership with Nelson and Terene Loh, working with them for a 5th season out of the last 8, along with Cedarlake Capital, Leica Cameras, Fearnley LNG and The Karting Arena. New additions to the sponsorship arsenal including vineyard, Giron Wines which we welcome to our racing family with open arms!
The new team livery has also been through an evolution, similar to last year’s race car design though for those who know, the white paint has turned into awesome chrome! The car from bumper to bumper is chromed and as 3 time Carrera Cup champion said to be just yesterday, ‘people are going to need sunglasses on track when they get near the car!’
Pre-season testing and the worldwide media launch for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will start off the 2019 proceedings in Porsche spiritual Asian headquarters in Chinas most populated city in Shanghai! I am more excited and more motivated than ever even after my 37th birthday to take the Pro Am title away from reigning champion, Bao Jin Long. It’s not going to be easy but if things were easy, winning would just be the way! Ready to rock and roll with the NOVU Racing Team and the Singapore flag flying high for another season of International Motorsport!