Will he be Singapore’s first F1 driver?By Daniel Teo
Jon Lee (centre) with seniors Santos Bala (left) and Opai Naufal (right) (Photo courtesy of Kartmaster Drakar Racing …
The future is bright for motor racing in Singapore.
There are even hopes that we can have our very own Formula One driver blazing the tracks at the Marina Bay Circuit one day.
And he may come in the form of Jon Lee.
The 12-year-old is part of the newly formed Kartmaster Drakar Racing Team, which was formally unveiled last Saturday at the Kartright Speedway Circuit in Jurong.
The two-time Singapore Karting champion told Yahoo! Singapore, "It's my dream to race in the F1 one day and make Singapore proud.
"Go-karting has always been my passion since young and I see myself becoming a professional race car driver in the future," he added.
With a vision to become a nursery of talented young drivers in Singapore, the go-karting team, which was born through the merger of Kartmaster Racing Team and Drakar Racing Team, hopes to develop young racing talents in Singapore and provide more opportunities for people to get involved.
"We hope to provide a platform for the younger ones to find their passion in go-karting," said Roland Chong, co-team principal of Kartmaster Drakar.
"I think motor racing in Singapore is heading in the right direction. We have kids as young as eight-year-old getting into karting.
"One of our aims is to get more people participating in the sport. That is what we are here for."
The F1 Singapore Grand Prix has undoubtedly raised the profile of motor racing on the island, but the cost of the sport remains a huge barrier for the average Joe on the street.
A competitive go-kart can cost as much as S$15,000 but Chong insists his team is here to help bridge the financial gap if the driver proves his passion and talent.
He added, "You might not have the financial means, but if you have the talent and the passion we will definitely do what we can to help.
Besides the high cost, parents could prove to be another hurdle for aspiring motor racing drivers.
Jennifer Han, mother of Lee, believes parents need to be educated on the safety measures in place.
She said, "I think it's a matter of educating parents about the safety measures in the sport and for the kids to overcome the fear.
"But financial support is definitely the greatest hurdle before one can kick off in the sport."
Asked if she supports her son in becoming a professional motor racing driver one day, she said, "We believe that whatever career he chooses to pursue, academic achievements are equally important.
"It is definitely not easy juggling between studies and go-karting. So our advice to him is that he must manage and balance both.
"For now, we are taking it one step at a time. It's going to be a very long process before he becomes a professional race car driver. "
The Victoria School student, whose younger brother is also in the same go-karting team, hopes more can be done to boost the sport in Singapore.
He said, "I hope the government will support karting more and give the sport more coverage. I also hope more people can participate in the sport.
"You never know until you try."