Heat Check: a Round Trip to Malaysia and Australia
Monday morning, I check the calendar... in less than two days I’ll be in the car, pushing for some quick laps at the steaming hot Sepang Circuit. I take a peek outside, the amount of snow we’ve had this year is impressive indeed. Got to love the way how sunlight bounces off the snowy ground and lightens up everything around it.
By Tuesday night I’ll need to be in Malaysia in order to make the first Wednesday morning practice. But I’ve no flights booked yet, so better check if the booking’s been finalised yet. A big one: round trip from Tallinn to Kuala Lumpur to Adelaide to Beijing and back to Tallinn. With flexible dates for the latter. After a phone call, clarifying some dates and details, I receive the booking. Now just finish packing my two suitcases, have a walk with my dog,
and off we go! A quick transit in Helsinki, meaning a routine mirror selfie before the long-haul. Yeah alright. Fall asleep, wake up in Singapore and transfer to KL.
KL has basically the same weather throughout the year, around 30-35 degrees during the day and humid like a good sauna. The first few days are always a bit tougher coming from a cold environment of below zero but that’s not an issue. Wasn’t before and isn’t going to be this time.
The Audi R8 LMS 2019 Spec looks absolutely amazing. Racing for the first time in Asia, it entered the Asian Le Mans Series for the 4 Hours of Sepang. Unfortunately, I wasn’t racing, but excited having been there nevertheless. Moreover, the last round of Asian F3 Winter Series also took place there and provided an absolutely thrilling finale. Have to say, Absolute Racing is looking strong going into the 2019 Asian F3 regular season. And nice to see Martin Young taking the leading role in the Absolute formula team. I’ve known him since Fortec days, we met in the 2013 Formula Renault Rookie Tests in Barcelona. They say that the world is a small place – well, the world of car racing is tiny.
Before I left for Adelaide, a cheeky Nando’s hit just the right spot. Glad to see they’ve hid their plastic straws from general use as an effort towards cutting down on the excessive use of plastic – good call in my opinion.
Adelaide 500. My first ever time in Australia. What an experience! I couldn’t believe how hot it was. I arrived on a Thursday morning straight into the action at the street circuit located downtown Adelaide, road closures and everything. I arrived just in time for the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup season briefing. I had been appointed an official mentor of the series, alongside my last year’s driver partner – expert racer Franky Cheng of China – and Weiron Tan – a rising star from Malaysia. Our job is to help the customer drivers of the series and make sure they do the right thing behind the wheel. Anything from analysing data and onboard video to race specific pointers both on and off the track. Being a mentor also means being an ambassador for the series, taking part in media and social media activities. Back to the weather though… It was absolutely brutal! We’re talking constant 40-degree heat and immense sunlight. Apparently, it was a heat wave we managed to arrive to. No AC’s as we were situated in the tents just like in the old days. By the end of the first day, I had realised that more extreme measures had to be taken in order to keep going. Electrolytes, vitamins, and a load of water. Concluding the weekend, I had consumed about 5 litres of water during each of the work days at the track, 5 litres! And that felt completely normal... The easiest way for me to manage drinking that much was to keep a bottle ready in my hand wherever I went. Kind of got used to that though after a few hours in. By the way, how much have you drunk today, enough?
The gents provided a ton of action out on the race track. Big congratulations to each one that made it through the weekend – Adelaide is a hell of a track to master, even more so under the extreme weather conditions. It’s narrower and more technical than it might first seem; extremely dusty and slippery at first but rather receptive of grippy rubber, which drivers needed to adjust to each session. Regardless, our drivers managed to get a good grasp of the technicalities quickly. We were delighted to see some expert racing, which was unbelievably close yet respectful. This time around, the local Aussies took both race wins, congrats to Tony and Geoff by the way! But the margins were small, and pressure from the visitors was full on. It’ll defin
itely be a thrilling weekend next time when the cup visits Zhuhai International in China.
It goes without saying that the racing culture in Australia is well-developed and wide-spread. Everybody in Australia knows about the Aussie Supercars, and the audience expands abroad as well. High-level tele-broadcasting of all the sessions, stunning camera angles, onboards on most of the cars etc. – all the thrills and adrenaline is brought straight to the audience. The event in Adelaide was huge with a festival-like vibe to it. It was the 21st time Adelaide 500 was held, and 254 000 people attended over the four days. Sunday being the real magnet, all 92 500 tickets were sold out. Makes sense too, Red Hot Chili Peppers was headlining on Sunday night to close the deal. Big stage like a proper music festival – awesome.
I left for the airport on Monday morning. The destination – Beijing – for some training and meetings, and unlike the previous time I was there, I packed a coat and some warmer clothes this time around.
The 2019 racing season has officially started. I can’t wait to bag some more wins! More about it in due time. Until then, have a good one!
*Photos by Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup