Backed by new sponsor, Leona Chin pledges to continue driving and developing future women racers

Leona Chin is “fuelled” to continue racing for at least two more years after securing a new sponsor. This comes a month after an accident at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) that made her question her future.

But, armed with a deal from Castrol, Chin is confident she can continue to show that women drivers are no pushovers.

Chin also knows her dream of churning out future drivers depends on her results on the track. As such, she is determined to finish on the podium the next two rounds of the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) – on Aug 9-11 and Sept 6-8 – after missing out in her new-look car this past weekend.

But her mood was different a month ago, at the opening round of the MCS.

Chin – overall champion in her category in 2021 – was in the middle pack of the first race in her neon Yellow Suzuki Swift, nicknamed ‘Pikachu’, when she was hit from the side, causing her to skid onto the grass.

‘Pikachu’ was heavily damaged, while Chin suffered injuries to her neck and leg.

Undaunted by the accident, Chin received the all-clear to continue racing, and having spent RM100,000 on ‘Pikachu’ before the accident, was short of money.

She sent proposals to several companies asking for sponsorship. She even included videos of her crash to explain why she needed help.

“Many said it was too late in the year as they had already allocated or spent their budget,” said Chin, SIC Motorsports Association of Malaysia’s Most Inspiring Female Motorsports Athlete 2019.

“I didn’t give up. I know I can still compete against the guys. Eventually, someone from Castrol commented on my video.

“We started corresponding and eventually signed a deal.”

Chin hoped the sponsorship would continue next year.

“I’m driving an older model. I’m confident of doing well this season, podium finishes or wins, but it will be harder next year,” said Chin, who turns 38 on July 23.

“I hope to continue racing for at least two more years. I have started looking at the other aspects of motorsports, but the competitive fire is still burning brightly.”

Chin has started coaching and mentoring young drivers. In 2022, she partnered with Morac Go Kart Track 1Utama to organise the women’s only ‘The Pink Stuff SODI Ladies Cup’ go-kart championship.

“I hope to mentor and coach more youngsters and show them there is a future in motorsports, even though getting sponsorship can be a challenge,” said Chin.

“I will slowly transition to the off-track activities, but for now, I will get as many drives as possible,” added Chin, who will compete in China next month.

“The plan is to organise more events to share my knowledge with future drivers as I hope to see more females become drivers.”

As Chin revs up her engines for future races, bet on her to continue shattering barriers to prove that women deserve to be behind the wheel of race cars.

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