Shanker Ramachandran, like most Malaysians who are pursuing their love of motorsports, originally joined the motorsport fraternity as a team crew member as he could simply not afford to race. This month, however, another dream came true when he was appointed to A1 Team Malaysia's technical crew as one of the team's mechanics.

"I've always wanted to get to the top of international racing participating at the highest level and we can't get much higher than A1 Grand Prix," said a delighted Shanker, "It is a real privilege for me to be working alongside Malaysia's best two racing drivers, Alex [Yoong] and Fairuz [Fauzy], and the opportunity given to me by A1 Team Malaysia to work alongside engineer, Greg Wheeler, on a state of the art A1 Grand Prix race machine is truly a dream come true for me."

Shanker was employed by A1 Team Malaysia two weeks ago and was immediately whisked off to join the team's testing at Paul Ricard over 24-26 August. He is now at Silverstone where all the 25 national teams' cars are based to be readied for the first round of the series at Brands Hatch in a little more than two weeks from now.

As far back as 1992, Shanker, who was then a typical Malaysian 17-year old, never failed to turn up at the Shah Alam race circuit at every race meeting to mingle with the racing drivers and teams hoping to land a race seat.

"But it was not to be," he recalled, "With the possibility of breaking into the limelight as a race driver being practically nil, my father agreed with my decision to enrol for a mechanical engineering certificate course in 1992 - as I thought that, if I couldn't race myself, I could try to make it into a race team as a mechanic or service crew."

In between his studies, this 'petrolhead' from Klang, a coastal port city just west of Kuala Lumpur, could be found around the race teams at almost every race meeting around Kuala Lumpur and Sepang. He has been involved with race teams in Malaysia's Formula Hayabusa and Merdeka Millennium Endurance series ever since 1995, after he finished his studies with a Certificate of Automobile Engineering.

Immediately before joining A1 Team Malaysia, Shanker was looking after the Formula BMW Minardi team in the Formula BMW Asia series for two years. Upon his graduation from the Workers Institute of Technology in 1995, he joined Malaysian sports car manufacturer, TVR Sports Malaysia Sdn. Bhd and, in his five years there, he was given the opportunity to receive training at TVR Engineering in England.

Now 30 and not yet married, Shanker revealed that there is a lot of pressure from his parents to settle down and start a family, but he insisted that he isn't thinking of that just yet.

"The time will come, but not now," he smiled, "I can only think about progressing myself further through the Malaysian team and, besides, there is a lot of travelling to be done, so being a bachelor helps.

"I like to see myself elevated to a position as a chief mechanic and, hopefully later, as the engineer working under the chief engineer of the most successful A1 Grand Prix team, A1 Team Malaysia," he said of his new ambitions.

Both drivers have taken a shine to the new recruit, who will begin his globe-trottting lifestyle at Brands Hatch on 24-25 September.

"Shanker is extremely enthusiastic and is now a key member of our team, a team that represents Malaysia at an exceptionally high level of sport on a global platform," Yoong said, while Fauzy admitted that 'we all know what it means to have a dream. Shanker's is coming true for him, and it's great to work with him."

Team boss Jack Cunningham revealed that there were plans to get more Malaysians involved with the team, in line with A1GP founder Sheikh Maktoum's dream to establish a true World Cup of Motorsport.

"We will be recruiting more personnel into the team before the season starts and, as it progresses," Cunningham said, "Three more young skilled Malaysians are expected to join the team before the first race this month, in the roles of data engineer, logistics supervisor and another mechanic.

"A1 Team Malaysia wants to be successful and only the best that deserve a role within the team will be chosen. Shanker knows he has quite some hard work to do now - but we wouldn't have selected him if we didn't think he was capable of making the step up to this level."



Loading Comments...