PROTON R3 Cusco Rally Team features new Junior driver, Kenneth Koh
The PROTON R3 Cusco Rally Team will feature Kenneth Koh, a new Junior Driver alongside 2011 APRC 2wd Champion Karamjit Singh, and 2011 APRC Junior Champion, Akira Bamba. Kenneth, who is from the town of Klang, Malaysia will be part of the APRC’s new Junior Cup competitors and next week will arrive in New Zealand for the first round. While new to international rallying, Koh is very experienced and has a long rallying history. Add co-driver Jagdev Singh and the pair will no doubt figure highly in the Junior class. Read on to learn a bit more about Kenneth in his own words as he tells us how he ended up here today.
“Rallying is in my DNA. I’ve been rallying since the age of 2, but not driving, SPECTATING and SUPPORTING! My dad is has been rallying in the 1990’s, so the passion towards rallying has started way before I can walk. As I grew up, I’ve met numerous Malaysian rally legends like, Henry Yap, Ron Teoh and also Karamjit Singh. They are my inspiration and I respect them because I wanted to be a World Class Rally Driver like them. I did not have the opportunity like any other kids to start driving early. I grew up watching kids driving race karts in shah alam circuit wanting to try it out.
At the age of 17, a close friend of my dad offered me to drive in a club event with his car. I finished 3rd in class. I learnt a lot that first time and I told myself to work hard for what I want. He continued supporting me for the next 2 years and in that period, I won numerous club events in the Junior Category and 1.6 litre category.
In 2011, I leased a rally car to attempt a full season of the Malaysian Rally Championship. It was really tough for me as I didn’t have any sponsors. I worked hard and was able to secure a few sponsors to support me to for Round 1, MRC Johor. I started the rally with only RM50 in my wallet as I finised all my savings on the car. My co-driver in that rally is 18 year old Nicole Anne Perreau which was also her first time in a rally. Despite all that, we finished 5th overall outright in the Malaysian Rally Championship standings and 1st in 2WD and P11 class. Thankfully, my family was supportive and loaned me the funds I needed to continue. Round 2 of the Malaysian Rally Championship was quite disappointing as we were lying 6th overall on the 1st day, and as we started the 2nd day, our drive-shaft broke and we scored zero points. Despite this set back, I put my head down and focused on the next round. Round 3 was in Malacca and we finished 3rd overall on the podium! We also created history by being the youngest driver and co-driver to be on the podium in Malaysian Rallying History. The rally was tough as it was raining heavily and conditions were very muddy. Round 4 was the last round of the championship, run in the areas around the town of Bahau. Unfortunately, while lying in 4th overall, the car had some mechanical issues which forced me to stop in the stage. Despite this, we still finished 4th overall on the 1st day, and the lead was cut short. We finished 5th overall in Round 4. The 2011 season ended with me and Nicole finishing 5th overall in the Malaysian Rally Championship, 1st 2wd, 1st junior and 3rd in P11 and P10. We’ve also created history by being the youngest rally driver to finish 1st in 2wd class in Malaysian Rallying History.
Although it’s only 1st year driving in the Malaysian Rally Championship, it is already a dream come true for me. The main lesson I’ve learnt is that nothing is impossible & never give up! I’m very grateful to my family and friends who supported me all the way. This is only the beginning and I hope that I will have greater opportunities to challenge myself and show what I’m made off.