INTERVIEW WITH AARON LIM -- A1 TEAM MALAYSIA DRIVER A1 Team Malaysia announced yesterday that Aaron Lim will drive for his nation at the next round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. He will be racing at Brands Hatch in the UK from 1-3 May. In...
INTERVIEW WITH AARON LIM -- A1 TEAM MALAYSIA DRIVER
A1 Team Malaysia announced yesterday that Aaron Lim will drive for his nation at the next round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. He will be racing at Brands Hatch in the UK from 1-3 May. In this interview Lim talks about his expectations for the weekend and his thoughts on the challenges ahead.
Q. You must be delighted to be racing for A1 Team Malaysia. How do you feel about this?
A. I've waited a long time, nearly two years! I couldn't be happier; it really is a dream come true for me. It is a great opportunity for me to drive in a top level international series with a highly professional team. But not only this, I'll be driving for my nation and this makes me very proud.
Q. Is A1GP the most competitive series you will have raced in?
A. It is not only the most competitive series that I've been involved with, but it also has the highest level of drivers. With ex-F1 drivers like Robert Doornbos and Narain Karthikeyan as well as a current F1 test driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi, and others who have raced in other top level series like Indycars and GP2, I don't think there's any other series which such a strong line-up of drivers. Most of the drivers, if not all, have more racing experience than me -- but to gain the experience you need to race, so having this opportunity will be a huge benefit to me
Q. What are your thoughts about the track?
A. I have no doubts that it will be very tough. It's one of the more difficult tracks in the A1GP calendar. The track is technically demanding. By this I mean that there are different types of corner, so you need to have a different approach for each one. If you get the line wrong you'll lose a lot of time. There is also the famous Paddock Hill bend. This has a blind crest, dropping down through a right hand bend. You have to be brave on the entry, keep the power on, and carry this speed through it. But it's easy to get it wrong and there's a big gravel trap waiting to catch you, but if you end up in it you probably won't get out of it.
Q. What are the biggest challenges for you in the move from just driving the A1GP car to actually racing it?
It is the format of racing that is new to me: qualifying, with the single run 'flying lap' will be a big challenge, as when you don't have so much experience, to get everything right on one lap is the toughest thing.
In the rookie session we don't get to use the PowerBoost button, so that's another part of my learning. We'll only have one chance to practice this, which will be in the final practice session and then it will be straight into qualifying. In qualifying you are allowed to use your PowerBoost on one of your four qualifying laps and that should make a big difference to your lap time, so it will be very important for me to understand how to use this to the best effect.
Above all of this, the biggest challenge will be the pitstops. I've never done races with pitstops, so it will be my first time. There's many parts to getting this right: the 'in' lap, which you need to do as quickly as possible right up until the line when you must put your speed limiter on; coming into the pitstop area squarely, leaving smoothly and cleanly, getting up to speed as quickly as possible on the 'out' lap. There's a lot more to a pitstop than people think!
Q. How are you preparing for the weekend?
A. It won't be much different to any other weekend, as I've always been in a position to take over from the main driver if he was ill or injured. So I've always kept my fitness level high and will keep to my regular training programme
I will be visiting the A1GP simulator in Italy before Brands Hatch, as this is our only opportunity to drive on the track before the Friday morning practice session. I'll go with the engineer and we'll be looking to work on the car setup. I have been before but at that time we weren't focused on this track and I was sharing the simulator time with Fairuz. This time we'll be concentrating on my driving style, lines and set up to suit me. I'll also be over in the UK early to make sure I'm acclimatised - the cool weather and time change can affect you mentally and physically for a few days, so I need to make sure I'm fully adjusted to British time and weather.
Q. Do you expect to score points?
A. It would be fantastic if we were able to score points, but I'm going to take each session as it comes, and each race as it comes. I haven't done a full A1GP race weekend before, so to expect points is ambitious, to finish the race has to be the real goal at this stage.
Q. You haven't raced for over a season, are you going to do more?
A. As I'm sure you know, you need substantial backing to be able to race at this sort of level -- and the grades below this, particularly at my level of racing means that I'd need to be Europe based. I don't have the funds to do this unless I can find sponsorship. I'm always trying to sort this out, so if something was to be forthcoming I'd be racing as often as I could. The more time I can spend driving and racing the more progress I will make.
Q. And what are your expectations for the weekend?
A. I want to take it slowly and build through the weekend. I have a great relationship with the engineering team, as I do with all the crew members, so I know they'll really help to settle me in and support me in each session. I'm not looking to be the fastest driver in the practice sessions; I'm aiming to use these to prepare me for the races. If that means we're running with full tanks, or worn tyres, then that's what we'll be doing. My goal is to finish both races. If we can be in the top ten that's a bonus, but I'm not underestimating the challenge ahead.
Q. What does it mean to you to be racing for your country?
A. I love the concept of A1GP and the way that you represent your nation when you race in the series. It adds so much as you know that everyone at home is willing you on and supporting you. I'm very proud to be Malaysian, so driving a car which carries the national flag of my country, is liveried in its sporting colours and is watched by people at home is very special to me. I can't wait to be lining up in the drivers parade and just making that step up from rookie driver to THE race driver!