Interview by Peter Burns – Asia Motorsport Development
Q: Can you tell us about your background and why did you choose TOC?
A: I was born in Kuala Lumpur. My Mum used to work at Petronas, but she has recently retired. My Dad works in a company in Canada. My passion for automotive came from my Mum being at Petronas and being able to go to Sepang for Formula One. Also it comes from my Grandfather who really liked cars. He had an old Ford and he literally woke up my passion for cars, to show me the engine and teach me. When he used to send his car for service he would drag me out of bed and take me with him so that I could watch the mechanic and see what he was doing. So that’s where my passion came from.
When I was at secondary school I wanted to be an engineer. You had to go through a foundation degree but I realised that I didn’t want to design or make a car as much as I like maintaining it. So I was thinking where I could go to study and further my love of cars and that’s when I found out about TOC. I thought that this would be a good place to start off my career in the automotive industry and my passion for cars. I am currently doing a diploma in automotive technology and I’m in my second year.
Q: Why did you volunteer for the Caterham motorsport experience?
A: I volunteered because as a kid with my Mum I used to go to the Sepang circuit and sit in the grandstand on the outside looking at the Formula One cars, but I never had the experience of what was happening on the inside in the pits and paddock. This fascinated me and I always wanted to know what this was about, so when I heard our trainer Mr Peter say that I could volunteer for this I decided that I wanted to try and see what it was all about. I knew that you can build the Caterham cars yourself so I really wanted to know about the car itself, what it was like, what engine is it running, what kind of suspension and things like that.
Q: How did you find the experience?
A: The race in March this year was my first time and I was very nervous about the timing. You have to be very crucial and things really have to be very precise and Mr Campbell kept the pressure up on all of us. I felt that the enjoyment came when you have done everything to the car, and the car goes out and comes back with no problems. You feel very satisfied that everything is done and the driver found it nice, he found the race enjoyable and your car is back safely, which is very nice feeling.
What fascinated me was the time limits and the crucial importance of getting everything done. People on the outside probably don’t realise the importance that things have to be done to a very tight time schedule and there can be no excuses! It did take some getting used to, but after a while you can see what needs to be done and when. With all the rules and penalties you can see why this is so important and it gives everyone of us involved a sense of discipline. It makes you realise that just doing something is not enough, it has to be done properly.
Q: I can see that it has worked on you then! You said that you enjoyed the experience but what specifically have you learnt?
A: First of all I now know how to do up the safety belts on a six point harness! The other thing Mr Campbell has taught me is to always keep checking the car.
This was the first time I learnt that there was something called a catch tank and also about a dry sump, which I ever knew was on racing cars. However it is logical when you think about it with the fuel and lubricants being sloshed around at high racing speeds. Also I learnt that you have to think about the fuel. As Mr Campbell explained, if the car has done 10 laps you need fill it up, but if it has only done 6 or 7 laps then you don’t have to fill it up.
I would very much like to be at the track with Caterham again and I want to try and see how far can I go and what more can I learn, as some of the other guys have done.
For my internship I went to BMW and did quite a lot of engine overhauling, but there they give you a week to do it. Just take your time, do it slowly, the customer will give you all the time in the world because it is an engine overhaul, but in racing you have to do it fast and properly.
Q: From your experience so far, what have you learnt that will benefit you and what you are doing with your course?
A: The most important thing I have learnt is timing and how to be organised. As Mr Campbell told us, you’ve got to be precise and make sure things look neat and tidy, such as all the cars being on display in the garage in a set precise order. So when I go to my second internship I will know that you can’t simply push things around and let them lie there and don’t care about it, you have to be neat, tidy and precise.
Q: What are your career aspirations?
A: After I finish my diploma I have plans to do my degree. I am still thinking where to do it, but there are three possible places- Malaysia, Australia or the UK. I’m still thinking about cutting back time because I am doing my diploma and I might be thinking of the UK with the University of Southampton if my grades are right, but I haven’t made my mind up yet.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years time?
A: I would like to start from the bottom as a technician. I feel that when you become a technician you will know all the things that have to be done on a car and how long it actually takes to do it. You must have a complete understanding of what goes on, but from experience you also learn that it is not as simple as some people might think. Often some people in their career quickly graduate to higher positions without having a complete knowledge of what is involved and they expect everything from the people below them, but they can’t deliver it because it takes time. So I would like to start from the bottom and learn all these things, then slowly progress up the career ladder when I have the experience.
If I can I would like to work in motorsport and automotive with a company that can give me a bit of both, probably with one of the big manufacturers. I like BMW because on the engineering side if they think something can be done they put it to the test and try it. This is the can do attitude that I have learnt from motorsport, it is focusing on how you can do it and then find the means to do it. Make it, test it and learn how to improve it, that’s why I like BMW.
Thank you Amaresh and good luck with your career.