The Malaysia Championship Series is the premier national motor racing showcase for Malaysia’s touring cars, with four rounds of the championship running from May to December at the Sepang International Circuit. Competing with the best is the TOC Motorsports team.
What better way for TOC Automotive College to experience first hand the world of competitive motorsport? Adelaine Foo, the CEO and Founder of TOC explained the idea behind the race team project and how all it started:
“We teach a diploma in motorsport to the students. The teachers teach how to prepare the car, but it is all theoretical. So it was about having a project where the students get to be involved, so that they are not just learning from the books and in the classroom, they are actually learning on the track. But it also provides an avenue for the teachers to learn themselves as many of our teachers are not involved in the motor racing industry.”
Team Manager of TOC Motorsports is Allan Cabiles who is TOC’s Training Director. A true racer at heart, Allan has over 20 years’ experience in the automotive industry and is a specialist in automotive education. He runs the team in terms of racing and the technical side, doing the co-ordination with the driver and all the team members of students and teachers, which generally is in the region of around 60% trainers and 40% students.
The team is organised with specialists being responsible for different areas of the car’s performance, such as the engine, the chassis, the body and the aerodynamics, plus someone who looks after the logistics.
Allan Cabiles explains the aims and objectives for the students who become involved in the racing:
“There is a big difference from learning inside the classroom and actually experiencing motorsport. Inside the classroom we may be able to explain everything but if the students can actually experience it first hand then that is the ultimate learning curve. We want to expose them as much as we can to real practical experience, as they do with their internships. When they are exposed to the real motorsport environment they can really link what they have learnt in the classroom with their experience at the race track, so that they can become even better students.”
The team’s driver is Frenchman Jean-Charles Dahout. Jean-Charles was fairly new to race driving when he first became involved in the project. His normal day job is Workshop Manager for Citroen in Singapore and the relationship goes back to when TOC became the Citroen training centre and Jean-Charles was sent from France to teach the teachers.
Feedback and communication between the driver and the team is of paramount importance. This improves the speed of development and with Jean-Charles’ technical background, the team has improved significantly with a real two way technical feedback conversation.
TOC Motorsport started the racing project in 2011 with a complete road car- a Proton Satria Neo- which they had to strip right down and rebuild to prepare for racing, and the car has been significant developed.
Adelaine Foo explains that this is learning the hard edge of racing:
“With our team, we have to manage our driver, we have to manage the car, the car sometimes may not perform, it gets into problems. When you are running your own race team you prepare months in advance. You strategise and think of what improvements you want to make to the car and you make them, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes the engine blows in the middle of testing and nobody sleeps for two weeks prior to the race!”
The MCS presents a real racing challenge for the teams. Each round of the championship comprises either two sprint races with a maximum of 10 laps each or 30 minutes duration, or a mini endurance race of 60 minutes, with a compulsory 3 minute pit stop.
But sometimes all the hard work pays off, coupled sometimes with a sprinkling of luck. In the first round of 2016 the TOC Motorsports team were twice on the podium with two second place finishes.
The remaining rounds of the MCS at Sepang are: August 4-7, November 11-13 and December 2-4, so come along and support the TOC Motorsports team and this very ambitious project.