A tale of two racers pursuing their dreams at TOC

 
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How old do you have to be in order to become an accomplished racer? Well, for young Petronas drivers – Muhammad Alif Azri and Sharul Fahmi, both 18, from The Otomotif College (TOC), age has never been the issue. The two boys were spotted for their talent since they started go-karting at the age of eight and twelve consecutively.

For Sharul Fahmi, it was a childhood dream come true the day he got handpicked to become an actual racer. Fahmi tried his luck at a basic go-karting program organized by the Youth and Sports Department of Selangor in 2006. It was a talent search founded by the state and Fahmi was lucky enough to be chosen to represent the state in the Fomula KBS held by
the Malaysia Ministry of Youth and Sports. He was then selected to enter a Racing School under Petronas Malaysia called the “Petronas Fomula Xperience (PFX) in 2009 and in the same year, identified as one of the top ten participants to undergo training and evaluation at the next level.

“I’m currently enrolled under the course of Diploma in Automotive Technology at The Otomotif College (TOC). Reason is because I would like to learn all the basics about cars in general before topping up with a degree in motorsports. I do have past experience in racing and I think it would be an added advantage to have more knowledge about the automotive industry. This gives me the chance to venture into different areas with the two different qualifications I have. In other words, I’m not limiting myself to one choice,” Fahmi elaborated.

For a racer at his age, Fahmi became the envy among his fellow classmates for his courage and ability to handle high performance cars.

“I aspire to become an engineer for Formula 1. Of course, I would like to become an F1 racer myself. My dream would be to establish my own go-kart team and discover all those hidden talents and unleash the potential of our younger generation after completing my studies. I would like to cultivate these young talents and bring them to the national level to do our country proud
as professional racers. I believe a solid automotive education is essential for good career advancement. Hopefully, one day I can say to them that I’ve been there, done that and I’m here to help them achieve the same dreams,” said the ever optimistic Fahmi with a smile.

The youngest counts himself lucky to have made the right choice in enrolling into TOC. “You see, I have another friend studying the same course at another college, and their facilities, equipment and environment is much inferior compared to what TOC has to offer. I feel blessed in the sense that I’m really enjoying my time studying here and I love all the theory and practical sessions we have. I particularly love learning and experimenting with all the diagnostic tools and machines we have,” he stated.

Fahmi was particularly impressed with the state-of-the-art in-house dynamometer. TOC boasts of being the first college in Malaysia that has their very own four-wheel Dynojet with the ability to run front wheel, rear wheel and all wheel drive vehicles on the same dyno. The sports car is often parked on the roller or rollers, which the vehicle then turns on and the output is measured. One run can cost up to RM 1.3 million per session. TOC Motorsport students are privileged to enjoy the use of this high-end apparatus the college sourced for them to learn fine-tuning sports cars.

The calculation of the power produced by the engine or motor is done by measuring the torque and rotational speed simultaneously. Dynamometers can be used as part of a test bed for a variety of engine development activities such as the calibration of engine management controllers, detailed investigations into combustion behavior and tribology. TOC’s Diploma in
Motorsport Technology students are given hands-on training on how to use this technologically advanced dynamometer by qualified and experienced trainers.

As a TOC student, Fahmi’s favorite subject is Engine Mechanical. He feels that it is an important subject because the engine is the heart of a car and all that controls it. His college senior and fellow racer, Alif Azri agrees with him.

“Being a race driver is not only about driving, and you have to know everything about the car,” said Alif who has a grand total of 22 podium finishes and 6 fastest laps to his name. Alif participated in the 2009 Formula BMW Asian Championship and his skills were recognized by Petronas Motorsports. He was then chosen to undergo training in Germany.

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Alif gave credit to his mechanic and manager who was his mentor until he was 13. By then, he had already learnt 80% of what one has to know at a go-kart competition.

“I could do everything single-handedly, from fixing a tire into a go-kart to fixing my own engine and chassis at the age of 11! Of course that inspired me to go further and gain more knowledge,” Alif shared.

At the age of 16, Alif started to follow the experienced pit crew just to be exposed to the world of motorsports.

“I remember a particular day when I was at a Drag Race. I followed the crew and witnessed how they set up a car. They really wanted to get the car perfect for action. It seemed so complicated to me – the way they set up the car’s Engine Control Unit from the laptop. Later, I learnt at TOC that they were using an aftermarket programmable engine management technology to fine tune the car. I remember watching the pit crew work on the car from 11pm to 3.30am! It definitely takes a lot of skill, knowledge and experience to get it right,” declared Alif.

Coincidently, TOC grants their students the opportunity to play around with engine tuning as of that done in the F1 team. The software of the MoTeC Engine Control Units used in TOC is constantly updated with the latest software features which are available anytime. One can control the entire engine system including ignition, temperature and others. In fact, most racing champions use MoTeC.

Alif expressed his eagerness to move on to the subjects when he can get hands-on experience in using this industry-standard equipment.

“I hope to put my knowledge gained from TOC to good use upon graduation,” said Alif. “Life as a racer is indeed exciting and rewarding but I can’t be one forever. That’s for certain. Malaysia is in a unique position as one of the few automotive countries in the world and we will need qualified and competent professionals to fulfill the demands of this ever growing industry. My education at TOC will prepare me well to enter this industry at the right time. When I visited their campus, I was immediately convinced, any student must do the same, and then, you will believe.” he concluded.

The Otomotif College (TOC) is the pioneer in Motorsport education in Malaysia and offers high quality automotive certificate and diploma courses with options for degree pathways to renowned universities worldwide. Established in 2005, TOC has grown by leaps and bounds to its current local & international student population of about 1300 at its Petaling Jaya campus. TOC students benefit from the cutting-edge facilities, top grade trainers, technologically advanced equipment and software besides a guaranteed career placement and development.

TOC has offices in Penang and Sabah to provide detailed information about automotive courses, careers, and our unique lifetime job placement. For the newly opened Penang office at Kristal Suites, Bayan Lepas, call 04-640 2867. Sabahans can visit the office at Kompleks Asia City or call 088-488 950.

To ensure that students make well-informed decisions TOC organizes the OTTO Camp (Open Day) to showcase some of the sophisticated equipment and see first-hand how they work. Prospective students and parents will be able to catch a glimpse into the exciting automotive world at the upcoming OTTO Camp at our Petaling Jaya campus on January 15, 2011 from 10.00am-4.00pm. Due to high demand, students must call 03-7955 2811 or visit www.toc.edu.my to register for the limited seats.

Drop by our booth B33-37 and B44-48 at The Star Education Fair on the 8th and 9th January, 2011, Hall 2, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), from 11am to 7pm.