Mini bikes, maxi racing
It's a family affair for Singaporeans who go across the Causeway to race on pocket bikes
Mohamad Dani Reza may be just 10 years old, but he's already a bona fide motorcycle racer.
Last Sunday, the boy was zooming around in a converted supermarket carpark in Kota Tinggi, Malaysia, on a pocket bike with others his age.
The boy fractured his wrist after another pocket bike collided into his, but managed to finish the race and came in fourth.
The boy's father, Mr Sufandi Noh, 43, said: "In the beginning, when you see your kid get injured, of course your heart aches. But I told him this isn't about aggressive riding, it's about building self-confidence and teaching him road safety."
Singaporean rider Mohamad Dani Reza, 10, on his 50cc pocket bike. TNP PHOTOS: BENJAMIN SEETOR
Mr Sufandi and his son are among a group of Singaporeans who cross the Causeway to take part in these specialised races for pocket bikes.
As there are no racetracks in Singapore, Malaysia is the closest location where they can legally race their bikes.
Mohamad Dani. PHOTO: FACEBOOK
These miniature motorcycles are about a metre in length and up to half a metre in height. Despite their small size, these bikes can reach speeds of about 40 to 50kmh, and are more agile than full-sized bikes.
When The New Paper visited the makeshift racetrack last weekend, the air in the usually quiet carpark was heavy with the smell of petrol and filled with the revving of the pocket bikes' 50cc engines - about 20 times smaller than those of MotoGP racing bikes.
The event is part of a series of races sponsored by Econsave, a Malaysian supermarket chain, which converts its carparks into temporary racetracks to host such events. Winners of the race get a cash prize of up to RM200 (S$65).
Young pocket bike enthusiasts.
Mr Sufandi, a marine technician, estimates there are close to 500 active racers across all ages who take part in these weekly races across Malaysia.
He got into the sport about seven years ago after noticing some people racing in the Kallang Leisure carpark.
After doing some research, Mr Sufandi bought his first bike for $400 while on a work trip to Beijing, China.
"The bike is cheap but it's all the modifications and upgrades that are going to cost you a lot," he said with a laugh, admitting he has spent more than $20,000 on modifications.
Mr Sufandi had three bikes with him at the race - two China-made models and his showpiece model, a $5,000 Italian-made bike.
"But there's something wrong with it today because of the rain," he said.
The rain proved challenging for all the racers.
A rider crashes during the aged 12 and below race.
Mr Sufandi's bike was seen losing power on his final lap during the qualification round. He still made it to the final race where he came in second.
At the race for children aged 12 and below, two racers skidded and flew off their bikes. One of those bikes hit Mohamad Dani's hand, leaving him with a fractured wrist.
"The pain is bearable and I enjoy racing, so I continued," he said.
After the race, his mother and family friends could be seen pressing an iced compress onto the boy's hand.
Despite his son's injury, Mr Sufandi will continue making these race days a family affair as he believes it helps them bond.
His wife, Roziana Wati, 33, helps with administrative matters during the race while his daughter, Nur Hani Darwisyah, 12, plays cheerleader.
Mr Sufandi said: "The best part of this is that the family is together."
"When we drive up (to Malaysia), we talk in the car and I know what's going on in my children's lives too."