NEW DELHI: REMEMBER Alex Yoong, former Formula One driver for Minardi? The first Malaysian to race in F1 back in 2002 is coming to India as one of the foreign drivers who have been brought in for the X1 Racing League. He will be racing for DG Racing Ahmedabad.
The 43-year-old finds a lot of similarities with the motorsports scene in the subcontinent and back in his homeland. And Alex feels a franchise-based racing league has more of a chance to succeed here rather than an one-off F1 race.
“Formula One does nothing to improve basic infrastructure, the most important thing to popularise the sport. It is like a hurricane that comes with sponsors, sucks up all the moolah and goes on to its next destination. A franchise-based model has worked for cricket and taken the sport to the next level and this league is the best way to take the sport to the masses,” he said.
Lack of quality tracks is another similarity between the two nations. Both have an F1 track in Buddh International Circuit (BIC) and Sepang International Circuit but little else. “Smaller and more accessible tracks are the need of the hour. I’m not just talking of one or two, keep five-six ready. Cheaper facilities can draw in crowds and that is the first step towards making the sport popular.”
Alex has raced in a variety of cars and in many different championships and even at this age, racing is what excites him the most. His close friendship with founders Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim, racers themselves, was what compelled him to take up this challenge.
“It was an immediate yes from my side. Both Aditya and Armaan are good friends and I liked the concept a lot. I expect Indian fans to be their passionate selves as usual and hope to have a great time here apart from helping young Indian racers in their journey.”
Not many people know that his son Alister has raced quite a few times in Chennai’s Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT), one of the venues this time around, as a part of the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship. And Alex plans to consult his son in order to find out ways to win there.
“Yes, he knows the track better than I do. It is a smaller track and will be a challenge. Hopefully, he can guide me on how to win!”
The racer only had a short duration in F1. Does he regret that he could not take his chance? “It was a fantastic opportunity for me and the country as a whole. I would not change a thing about the whole journey even if I got the chance. It was one of the most memorable years in my life.”