14-year-old kart prodigy shifts to car racing

The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 13 2014 07:30 PM | Updated as of Apr 14 2014 03:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Karting’s Rookie of the Year Sean “Rockrapidz” Smith will be welcoming a new challenge in his young career – car racing.

Toyota Quezon Avenue is sponsoring Smith’s campaign in the coming Vios Cup, where the 14-year-old racer is its youngest competitor.

“Sean Smith loves to race and I was interested to meet the boy. He is a young and enthusiastic boy, who has the passion for racing. I know everything happens for a reason, and our encounter was not by choice but by chance. His parents are very supportive in his endeavor to represent Toyota Quezon Avenue Inc. in the Vios Cup. I see a future in this boy, eager to learn and ready to meet challenges,” said Lincoln Lim, president of Toyota QA.

Smith, who already had two podium finishes in the national karting series this year, believes that car racing is his ticket to his ultimate dream – Formula 1.

“Due to lack of funding, I did not have any plans in moving this year until Toyota QA offered this amazing opportunity and it changed everything,” said Smith. “And the idea of a one make, one race is the series I always wanted to be in. To succeed here, the skill of the driver takes precedence over technical and financial aspects. It’s fair racing, where nobody can get an unfair advantage by paying more money! Everyone has exactly the same equipment.”

Although he is new to car racing, Smith said his background in karting has taught him valuable lessons about racing and competing with other drivers. But for Smith, the biggest challenge with the transition to cars is “mastering the gear changing,” since he was already used to the single-geared mechanism of go-karts.

The half-Pinoy, half-British karting prodigy’s goal in the Vios Cup “is to have a successful first season and to gain valuable new experiences in this exciting sport.”

“I’m excited to learn new things,” he said, “Technicalities like shifting, braking, [the] size of the car, exaggerated over and under steer is something I will get the hang of after 200 laps of testing.”

The other thing Smith is as passionate about aside from racing is to elevate the Filipinos’ interest and support for local circuits. He said that he aims to “win it and promote Philippine Motorsports.”

When asked what he preferred between kart and car racing, Smith admitted: “I really prefer car racing because it makes me feel a step closer to my dream of F1 (Formula 1) racing.”

His dream may have sprung from his racing influence, fellow Brit, Lewis Hamilton.

“I watch all his videos,” Smith said of the 2008 F1 World Champion, “from his karting maneuvers all the way up to F1.”