“Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2” attracted participants from East Malaysia and Brunei

Two types of motor sports called Gymkhana and drift are slowly gaining momentum in East Malaysia, thanks to the close-knit community of drift enthusiasts from Sarawak, Brunei, and Sabah. In 2018 alone, several programs related to drift and Gymkhana are being organized all over East Malaysia.

Earlier this year, Sarawak Auto-Enthusiast Society (S.A.S) in Kuching organized New Year 2018 Gymkhana and Drift Charity. In mid-March, Kelab Sukan Permotoran LD (LDMC) of Miri organized Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 1 at Coco Cabana. On May 20, SAS organized Kone Attack Gymkhana Round 2 at Giant Hypermarket, Kota Padawan.

Miri Gymkhana & Drift Challenge Round 2 at Boulevard Hypermarket Miri parking lot

Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2 took place at the parking lot of Boulevard Hypermarket Miri. Photo by Jacky Chong Zheng Ting

The most recent event was Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2, taking place at Boulevard Hypermarket Miri parking lot for two days (June 30 and July 1). Coming up next is Suzuka Kone Attack Challenge organized by SAS in Kuching on July 21 and 22 at Dewan Suarah car park, Kota Samarahan. East Malaysia drift enthusiasts are already marking their calendars for September 1 because Bintulu Drift Party 1.0 is happening. It includes programs such as drift clinic, drift practices, tandems, team drifts, and BBQ.

Round 3 of Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge is rumored to be held sometime around the month of October. Meanwhile, drift enthusiasts from Sabah are coming up with similar event towards the end of 2018.

After successfully organizing Round 1 of Gymkhana and Drift Challenge at Coco Cabana on March 18, Kelab Sukan Permotoran LD (LDMC) advanced with Round 2 at Boulevard Hypermarket parking lot on June 30 (Saturday) and July 1 (Sunday). Participants came from Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Mukah, Sibu, Bintulu, and Brunei for the two-day event. A few participating drivers utilized the service of car carrier trailer to transport their vehicles to Miri for the competition. 2018 happens to be Visit Miri Year and this event is fully supported by Miri City Council.

30 participants took part in Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2. They are, in no particular order – Tan Yaw Ming, Darrel Rengga, Umesh ‘Ryutaru Messy’, Hee Wei Seng, Johnny Yong, Michael Wee, Percy Phylix, Locksley Ng, Elmyn Michael, Raymond Vincent, Tan Shin Hao, Albert John, Vester Chin, Mohamad Shahril, Roy Chai, T.K. Wong, Stanley Wong, ‘Obi’ Wan Asraq, Andy Huang, Chong Chuan Lung, Ong Chai Chiang, Chong Tze Cheung, Benedict Lai, Ngo Luk Hung, Bernard Liaw, Faisal, Azim, Wallace Liew Zia Fang, Nefilander Ningkan and Andy Hwang.

Ee Young Cherng, Alan Kon and Jagjeet Singh

LDMC President Alan Kon (middle) with special guests from Kuala Lumpur – Ee Young Cherng (left) and Jagjeet Singh

Technical advisors and special guests, Ee Young Cherng and Jagjeet Singh travelled all the way from Kuala Lumpur to oversee the course set-up. Simultaneously, they were scouting for potential drivers to be sent for competitions in Kuala Lumpur, in which some qualified drivers will be selected to compete at international level – the Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition.

In his speech during drivers’ gathering at The Fisherman Wharf on June 30, LDMC’s President Alan Kon thanked various groups and individuals for their selfless contributions to the event success. The two-day event was supported by Miri City Council and sponsors, namely: Ceramic Pro Miri, JL Pro Tint Sdn. Bhd., Bass Mechanic Car Performance Parts and Accessories, TouchOil (East Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd., Davis Loh Jack Yau, BS Motorsport, Johnny Yong, Michael Wee Chee Wei, and Wallace Liew Zia Fang. Also lending support to the event are Sarawak Auto-Enthusiast Society (S.A.S), BASC Bintulu, SidewayZ Squad, Miri Gymkhana Team, Brunei Gymkhana Team, and Sabah Gymkhana Team.

Alan also voiced his appreciation to the individuals who assisted in promoting the event through social media exposure. They are Lai Tzong Tah, Caius Cecil Frankie, Nigel Staring, Teo Kwang Ming, Jacky Chong Zheng Ting, Zi Xiang, Leslie Chai and Kiang Meng.

There were four categories in the Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge (Round 2), namely: Gymkhana for Front-wheel Drive (FWD), Gymkhana for Rear-wheel Drive (RWD), Gymkhana Open (for both FWD and RWD vehicles), and last but not least – Drift.

On day 1 (June 30), participating drivers showed up early on competition venue to register their names and paid entry fees. Prerequisites for the challenge include valid driving license, proper attire (examples: closed-toe shoes, long pants, helmet, racing gloves), no fuel leakage from participating vehicles, fully functioning seat belts and brakes. Technical inspection varies from event to event, but once the participating cars’ appropriate class and number have been established, drivers are given the mandatory ‘Drivers’ Briefing’ and shown the map. After the briefing, drivers are taken for a walk-through. This critical part will see drivers walking the course while trying their best to memorize the map.

Tan Yaw Ming from Kuching competed in his Proton Wira and emerged as champion in the FWD category, while Umesh R ‘Messy’ from Sabah bagged the first runner-up trophy. Second runner-up placing went to Darrel Rengga from Kuching. Both Umesh and Darrel rented the same Perodua Myvi belonging to a Mirian and LDMC’s Treasurer, Ian Ling Yii Yang, because their vehicles did not make it to Miri. Other participating drivers in the FWD category were Hee Wei Seng, Locksley Ng, Albert John, Vester Chin, Elmyn Michael, Raymond Vincent, Mohamad Shahril, and Tan Shin Hao.

Miri Mayor Adam Yii presented a trophy to Tan Yaw Ming

Miri Mayor Adam Yii presented a trophy to Tan Yaw Ming, champion of Gymkhana FWD category. Photo credit: Jagjeet Singh

The champion for Gymkhana RWD category was won by Roy Chai of Bintulu. First runner-up title went to T.K. Wong of Sabah, followed closely by second runner-up Stanley Wong. Other participating drivers in the category were Hee Wei Seng, ‘Obi’ Wan Asraq, Andy Hwang, Johnny Yong, Michael Wee, Chong Chuang Lung, Ong Chai Chiang, Benedict Lai, Umesh R ‘Messy’, Ngo Luk Hung, Bernard Liaw, Faisal Hanafi, Azim, and Wallace Liew Zia Fang.

In the Gymkhana Open category, Roy Chai emerged as the champion while Tan Yaw Ming took up the first runner-up spot. YouTube car vlogger and self-proclaimed MGP (Miri Gymkhana Prince) – Hee Wei Seng from Miri took home the second runner-up trophy. Other drivers competing in this category were Andy Hwang, Stanley Wong, Darrel Rengga, ‘Obi’ Wan Asraq, Ong Chai Chiang, Michael Wee, Locksley Ng, Umesh R ‘Messy’, Benedict Lai, Albert John, Johnny Yong, Mohamad Shahril, Faisal Hanafi, Azim, Liew Zia Fang, Chong Tze Cheung, and Chong Chuang Lung.

Drift Gonzo layout was introduced for the first time in East Malaysia on day 2 of the competition. Prior to this event, Drift Gonzo had been done only twice in Sepang. As with Gymkhana, participating drivers were first given a mandatory Driver’s Briefing before the walk-through. Drivers are allowed to do a practice run before competition began. Various time penalties are given for knocked over cones, missed turns, incorrect routes, vehicle spinning, and so on.

setting up an obstacle in drift gonzo layout

Setting up an obstacle for the drift Gonzo layout

In the solo run drift category, T.K. Wong obtained the highest score and became champion while Stanley Wong and Roy Chai won first runner-up and second runner-up respectively. Best eight drivers in the solo run were Stanley Wong, T.K. Wong, Roy Chai, Desmond Chong, Bernard Liaw, Ngo Luk Hung, Nefilander ‘Nefii’ Ningkan and Andy Huang.

By this time, big crowd began to gather around the car park. Everyone was eagerly waiting for tandem passes or the ‘Best 8 Battle’. It was a chasing race where the best of the eight heats go to the next four, then to the next two, eventually leading to the final. Two drivers were paired off and two passes were allowed for each heat. Each driver will take turn to lead. If both drivers have perfect runs, the judge will time the gap between vehicles to determine the winner. One factor to help win the pass is to maintain a close gap while chasing under drift proviso. Stanley Wong and Desmond Chong were the final pair battling it out in a breath-taking showdown as both drivers displayed exciting driving styles.

The winner for ‘Best 8 Battle’ / drift showdown in Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2 was Stanley Wong.

Photo by Elena

Ee Young Cherng (right), playfully poured water on Stanley Wong as he received his drift showdown trophy

Other than trophies, there’re no monetary reward for the said challenge. Nevertheless, every participant displayed true spirit of sportsmanship throughout the challenge. Gymkhana and drift enthusiasts from Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei are continuously making efforts to liven up motor sports scene in their region.

Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2 received participation from Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Brunei and Kota Kinabalu

Participants from Kuching, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu, Brunei and Kota Kinabalu came to Miri for “Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2” at Boulevard Hypermarket parking lot

Initially, LDMC had planned to host Round 2 of Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge at the old airstrip of Lutong. However, one month before the event, old Lutong airstrip becomes inaccessible to the public. Therefore, LDMC decided to rent a portion of Boulevard Hypermarket parking lot for two days to host the event. Even though the paved surface is not as even as a standard racing tarmac, it provided ample space for Miri Gymkhana and Drift event coordinators to set up a basic course for the challenge. LDMC committee members and drift enthusiasts from East Malaysia are truly grateful to the management of Boulevard Hypermarket Miri for allowing such event to be held at their premises.

Currently, Miri does not have a proper venue for the Gymkhana and drift enthusiasts to practice their art. The Miri Go-Kart Racing Track at Permyjaya caters exclusively for go-kart and is not a multi-purpose motor sports park. At the moment, Sarawak does not have a full-fledged internationally sanctioned motor sports park. The Gymkhana and drift enthusiasts in Miri are desperate to have a proper venue to hone their skills and to host Gymkhana and drift related events without having to fork out huge sums of money to rent commercial car parks. When renting parking lots, be it commercial or private, there are various issues that LDMC needs to consider.

It is only natural for parking lot owners to be concerned about scuffing and tyre marks left on the pavement. Drift cars are usually light-to-moderate weight RWD coupes and sedans. Luckily, asphalt scuffing or marking is not a sign of a reduced pavement life; in the long run, an asphalt pavement going through hot weather and marking will have the same life span as an asphalt pavement placed in cooler weather with no marking. Most marking will disappear in time under normal traffic conditions. The scuffing and tire marks are typically an aesthetic issue that would not affect long-term performance of the asphalt pavement. LDMC team and local drift community are very thankful for the consideration, tolerance and understanding shown to them by the venue owners.

Now that the old Lutong airstrip is no longer accessible to them, the Miri drift enthusiasts have to search for a suitable alternative. They are extremely grateful to the owners of old Lutong airstrip for allowing them to utilize that venue for quite some time before it is sealed off. Plenty of fond memories were made while they learned the art of drifting on that old airstrip.

Alan Kon with Adam Yii

Miri Mayor Mr Adam Yii (right) is supportive of the event. On the left is Alan Kon, President of Kelab Sukan Permotoran LD (LDMC)

If you follow closely the activities of East Malaysia motor sports enthusiasts, you will notice that they often organize events either on commercial parking lots or abandoned airstrips. A spacious and square-shaped land with flat pavement is favorable for activities such as Gymkhana and drifting. However, competitions held in a parking lot may lose its thrill aspect because spectators will not have a clear view of the competition from ground level. The local drift and Gymkhana enthusiasts are desperate to obtain an allocated facility to practice their art.

The most ideal venue would be a proper race track as it can accommodate full-size drifting challenges. The cost of building a ‘world class’ circuit is not cheap, therefore the local drift and Gymkhana enthusiasts are not asking for too much. They are grateful if relevant parties can build a mini motor sports park which contains configurable, multi-use racetracks that are large enough to accommodate full-size drifting challenges. Rightfully, taking the safety of everyone into account, the motor sports park need to be compliant with international safety standard (preferably FiA approved) and equipped with basic amenities such as pit lanes, grandstands, paddocks and garages.

A full-fledged motor sports park usually contains a multi-level Paddock building which houses the race control area, media center, track offices, garages, advance driving school, exhibition space, grandstands, food and souvenir vending areas, and several VIP viewing areas. Most full-fledged motor sports parks have wet and dry skidpan which could accommodate additional events while the main racetrack is not available for use. A skidpan (also known as skidpad) is a circular area of flat pavement used for various tests of a car’s handling. Some may use the grounds to test and demonstrate vehicle capabilities, host product debuts, and conduct safety briefing. A very impressive example of a full-fledged motor sports park is the Barber Motorsports Park at Birmingham, Alabama (USA); it even has a museum for motorcycles! Guinness World Records named Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum as the “World’s Largest Motorcycle Museum”.

The Labuan International Motorsports Circuit reportedly features tracks for race pit, go-cart, mini GP, drag strip, pocket bike, supermoto and superbike. It has a grandstand with hill stand seating, paddock, administrative building and retail premises. Future 4×4 projects and motocross extreme games on a 20-acre site adjacent to the circuit are in the planning.

Alan Kon announced there will be Round 3 in the future although the dates have yet to be confirmed. He has plans to include Motorcycle Gymkhana category in future competitions. That way, both cars and motorcycles owners can participate in the event. The recent Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2 was the third Gymkhana and drift competition organized in Miri. Citizens of Miri are slowly getting to know Gymkhana and drifting. In the past, numerous drag races were organized at the old Lutong airstrip so Mirians are more accustomed to drag racing compared to other forms of motor sports. The first Gymkhana and Drift Challenge was organized at Emart Riam parking lot in 2016. Back then, the number of participants were only a handful. Now, more newcomers are joining the fun and learning how to drift.

Gymkhana is one of the most accessible forms of motor racing. One doesn’t need to be a ‘car person’ to get involved. How does one get involved? The best way to start is simply to get involved in any way you can. Volunteers are always welcome at these events and you can hang out with the people involved and observe for yourself what it is all about. The Gymkhana and drift community in East Malaysia are a friendly and supportive bunch of people. Very often, an inexperienced newcomer feel intimidated to get involved but fear not, even the most experienced drivers sometimes lose their way on the course. Some still get confused when it is time to slide, and sometimes they break free during a drift and skid off to the side.

Tan Yaw Ming won the Gymkhana FWD category

The champion and his Wira – Tan Yaw Ming from Kuching emerged as champion in the FWD Gymkhana category

Gymkhana is considered a low-cost motor sports that requires speed and agility. It is a timed event where participant attempts to beat the clock or other driver’s times while manoeuvring around various obstacles in the fastest time possible. While competitive, Gymkhana is all about having a good time while challenging oneself mentally and building new driving skills.

Drifting is a term given to a driving technique where the driver purposely over-steers while maintaining total control of his/her vehicle through the entirety of a corner. In other words, drifting is when a driver forces his/her car to slide sideways through a turn.

Roy Chai, T.K. Wong and Stanley Wong

Top winners for the solo run drift category (from left to right) – Roy Chai, T.K. Wong and Stanley Wong

Drifting is done almost exclusively in rear-wheel drive cars. As witnessed in Miri Gymkhana and Drift Challenge Round 2, participating vehicles in the drift category included a BMW E30, a Toyota Chaser, two units of Toyota AE86, a Toyota AE70, a Toyota Starlet, two units of Daihatsu Charmant, a Nissan Skyline GT-T R34, a Nissan GTS R32, two units of Nissan Cefiro, a Nissan 350z Fairlady, two units of Nissan Silvia S15, and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. It is no surprise to see majority of the drift vehicles are JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) models. After all, the birthplace of drifting is Japan (in the seventies) and the “father of drifting” is Kunimitsu Takahashi.

Drifting is featured prominently in Japanese anime series “Initial D”, which is hugely responsible for the spread of drifting internationally. Hollywood also features drifting in one of its popular movie franchises, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”. Today, drifting has evolved into a competitive sport where drivers compete to earn points from judges based on several factors.

Members of Sabah drifting team

Suzuka oil team. Participants from Mukah (Benedict Lai) and Sabah (T.K. Wong and Desmond Chong)

Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” Please give it a try. Who knows? You might turn out to be that hero/heroine who would represent our country at international competitions. For your information, at the moment Malaysia is sending two female drivers to Gymkhana competition in Indonesia – the Asia Auto Gymkhana Competition.

What’s your excuse?

Zig Ziglar ~ “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”


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