I made my racing debut in 1993 after graduating from Jim Russell Racing School. My first race was at Brands Hatch circuit in the British Formula First championship. I qualified 10th out of 35 cars but crashed out on the first lap.
WHAT DREW YOU TO RACING?
It's the danger, the sheer speed of the car and the high technology that attracts one to motorsport. It gives you the sense of being in control of the beast underneath you which I find satisfying. I also like the technical side of the sport with its new technology, new ways of thinking. Motorsport teaches you to think outside the box.
HOW HAVE YOU AND THE TEAM BEEN DOING SO FAR AT THE WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP 2012?
We are currently in second place, 12 points behind the leader. In the four races so far we finished fifth, second, sixth and we won the last round. It's setting up to be an exciting end to the season with four more races to go. The main difference between the WEC and Formula 1 is that the length of the race is determined by time rather than distance. In F1, the maximum distance is 200 miles [32km]. In the WEC, this would be the maximum of either six hours, 12 hours or 24 hours. In terms of cars, F1 cars have more performance as the races are a lot shorter. They are open-wheel and open-cockpit. In the WEC, cars are closed-wheel and have either an open or closed cockpit. The engines in F1 are petrol only whereas other technologies such as diesel and hybrids are allowed in the WEC.
WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THE MOTOR RACING INDUSTRY IN THAILAND?
It's still a long way behind. I hope it will grow quickly. The additional benefit of motorsport is that the technology used in a race car today will be passed on to a road car tomorrow. I would like to see not just Thai drivers but engineers and technicians getting involved in world-class motorsports. They could gain the technical know-how, a new way of thinking. Dubbed the "Detroit of the East" and producing over a million cars a year, Thailand could benefit hugely from being involved in motorsport. I would like to see Thailand design and build its own car during my lifetime.
WHAT'S YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUNG THAIS INTERESTED IN RACING?
Make sure you learn something every time you drive a car. Also learn from your mistakes. You will find that experience counts a lot when you get higher up. [On the safety issue], unfortunately, you cannot make racing completely safe. It would also lose its appeal if it was. Some people see danger as a challenge. That's why we went to the moon and climbed the highest mountain. To them, what matters the most is how history remembers their names after they are long gone. You can either wrap yourself in cotton wool and live to be 100, or go out there, take risks and try to achieve something. You might not live as long but it will be one hell of a ride!G
About the author
Writer: Kaona Pongpipat