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Getting around Hong Kong doesn’t require a supercar but 300hp helps

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 July, 2016, 10:47pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 July, 2016, 10:47pm

Professional racing car driver Darryl O’Young, 36, says he gets all the high-speed performance he needs on the race track

“I’m currently driving a Volkswagon Passat V6 3.6L wagon here in Hong Kong. I really like wagons because they can be convenient for city use and just getting around. It really helps that this car has 300 horsepower, but it is also an easy car that my wife can drive as well to get around town.

Sport combined with comfort is something I look for on the road as I only own one car, but if I had a second, it would probably be a bit sportier.

This car has an interesting history as it was actually a Macau Grand Prix safety car, which they used for several years on the legendary Guia circuit. A friend told me a few of them came back on the market at a low mileage, so I picked it up. I’ve been asked if I like to name my cars, but I don’t usually name anything I drive as I’ve never had a personal connection with any of the cars I have driven or raced to date.

My car tastes haven’t really changed over the years, but because I’ve been involved with motorsport since I was a kid, I’ve always just looked for a car with a sporty performance. Now I also look for comfort for the road because I get all the high-speed performance I need on the race track.

This wagon is great to drive in Hong Kong. Most people don’t really expect the car to have 300hp because it’s a Passat wagon, so it’s viewed as a car that parents might drive to take kids around town.

I do get some funny looks if someone recognises me driving the car because everyone expects a race car driver to be driving a supercar rather than a wagon. However, if I had a second car at home, it would probably be a 911 because I’ve always had a weakness for older Porsches, particularly the 964 or 993. I had better save more cash as the classics keep rising in value.

It’s not very exciting but day to day, I normally just drive to the office, to meetings and back home again. How would I improve the wagon for Hong Kong? Well, with the bumpy roads here, I think suspension would be an area I’d like to adjust on the car. The dampers don’t take bumps too well as the car is pretty heavy, so a bit more stability over the bumps would probably help with better overall car control. As in everything, when there is horsepower, fuel consumption is normally pretty high, so I guess better fuel efficiency would never hurt anyone, especially with the gas prices in Hong Kong.

On the subject of left-hand-drive vehicles, I feel that it would be appropriate to let supercars and classic cars only produced in left-hand-drive to be allowed access to the Hong Kong roads. There is a tradition of seeing some really beautiful cars on the streets of Hong Kong, so it would be great to see that kept alive.

On driving in general here, I think Hong Kong has many roads where drivers can enjoy cruising in their cars, but to ultimately feel the performance of a sports car, it needs to happen on a race track. I hope one day Hong Kong will have a race circuit so people who enjoy the sport can take their road cars on to the track and truly enjoy them in a carefree way. There are currently talks about a new circuit, so hopefully that can come to fruition.

Everyone is talking about electric cars at the moment, so it would be cool to learn more about them as their performance continually improves. I think it makes a lot of sense for a city like Hong Kong, where the distances we travel aren’t too far. I’ve never owned an electric vehicle but I think Hong Kong is doing well adapting to this technology and promoting electric power, especially bringing the Formula E race to the city.

If I had a second car at home, it would probably be a 911 because I’ve always had a weakness for older Porsches

Are electric cars replacing joy? I’d probably say not, but are they the future of cars? Probably yes, as electric cars will continually increase in performance and convenience, so it will make sense that car manufacturers will continue to move in that direction.

I hope that with the first-ever Formula E race coming to Hong Kong in October, car fans, media and the general population of Hong Kong will learn to appreciate the sport and build an interest for motor racing. Hong Kong has demonstrated year after year that interest in automotive as well as racing is quite big, with Hong Kong having a strong history developed through the Macau Grand Prix. So hopefully having the big race here through the streets of Central will raise interest to the next level.

My next race is in Fuji, Japan, in the GT Asia Series. I’m driving with Hong Kong team Craft-Bamboo Racing in a Porsche 911 GT3-R. Last year, I was able to win the series championship title in an Aston Martin, but we made the switch to the all-new Porsche this year, so we are taking some time to come to grips with the new car. It always takes some time to learn and develop with a new manufacturer, so hopefully we will be back to the top of the podium soon.

Getting off a race track and transitioning into driving on a public road isn’t too difficult for me. There’s actually a very simple analogy. When people run in a marathon, they simply wouldn’t keep running everywhere after the event, they would walk. Driving is exactly the same thing as the amount of energy and concentration needed to drive at top speed is very similar to going for a run.”