Best friends Mitchell and Adam gear up for four-wheel adventure

Fit for the race: Adam Khalid and Mitchell Cheah are both 22.

Mitchell Cheah and Adam Khalid are the best of friends and both aim to be successful in their motoracing careers. And the two 22-year-olds seem to be on the right track as they have joined the Sepang International Circuit development programme for four-wheel racing.

Q: Can you both recap the year 2020?

Mitchell: I was supposed to go for a full-season racing in the ADAC TCR (Touring Car Cup) Germany last year but the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the plan. But fortunately, I got a call to fill in the empty seat left by German Nico Gruber to race in the Red Bull Ring round of the ADAC TCR Germany series. It was the best news and immediately, I packed my bags and headed to Austria. I secured a pole position and later finished third in Race 1 despite not having raced for some time. Then, I got another break when I was asked to fill for another driver to race in the FIA WTCR (World Touring Car Cup) season finale at the Motorland Aragon Circuit in Spain. I went through the quarantine period to compete and finished 13th in that race. I didn’t expect to go overseas twice during the Covid-19 situation but it certainly made me realise how much I missed racing.

Adam: Like Mitchell, I was also prepared to race in the TCR Asia last year but due to Covid-19, the championship was abandoned. Luckily, the authorities allowed us to race during the recovery movement control order in September. After five months of training without any races, I got my break when I competed in the Merdeka Millenium Endurance. And I won the race (with Gilbert Tang) for Team SIC Viper Niza. I also raced in the SEA F4 championship series and then later progressed to the Malaysia Championship Series. I managed some impressive results and then earned the chance to go for a shootout last year as Sepang International Circuit wanted to pick another driver for their motorsport development programme. I made it through the thorough evaluation contest.

What’s the racing plan this year?

Mitchell: I would like to race in the TCR Asia series and fight for podium finishes regularly. Hopefully, I can win the championship. They have not come out with the calendar yet because of the Covid-19 situation but the organisers have planned for a five-round championship in China, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand. We’ve never stopped training despite the uncertainties. I also hope to go for the ADAC TCR Germany series if the borders open again.

Adam: I’ve been training like four times more than what I used to do in the previous year. I’m at the peak of my mental health and I’m very hungry for action. Basically, I’m ready for the mission to win podiums and challenge for the TCR Asia championship.

So, what kind of off-track training programme does a driver like you do?

Mitchell: I focus on cardio training, especially on upper body. It’s important to make our muscles stronger. We have our own cardio trainer in Sepang to implement specific training programmes for us.

We train together with the motorcycle riders. And we do a lot of cycling as it builds up the stamina.

Adam: We need to train daily to keep ourselves super fit. If we are unfit, we’ll feel the fatigue when we do the long-distance races. It’s when we are tired that we tend to make mistakes.

Lately, we have also incorporated boxing into our training regiment. It helps to instil the warrior spirit in us.

Who has been your inspiration, and why?

Mitchell: I do watch Formula 1 and other championships a lot and there are a few drivers I like. I raced against Lando Norris a few years back and look where he is now (racing in Formula 1 for McLaren).

But the one who inspires me the most is my dad Anthony Cheah. He races for fun and has been supporting me throughout my racing career. Aside from last year, he has been around to watch me in every race since I started racing. He has made a lot of sacrifices to allow me to continue in this sport and we know this is not a cheap hobby.

Adam: I have lived in Australia before, so I would say that my favourite is the current McLaren Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo and also Chaz Mostert, who is an Australian professional supercar racing driver. Racing is racing but they also care about their health and their lifestyles. They have won world-class races and are creative. But my all-time favourite is Michael Schumacher, what a career he has made in motorsports. I grew up watching this guy and want to be like him. He has inspired my generation.

Usually, riders psyche themselves up by listening to music before a race, what’s your preference?

Mitchell: I have no preference. Sometimes I prefer slower tunes and sometimes, EDM (electronic dance music).

Adam: It has to be the Bulls on Parade songs if I am starting on the front. But if I am starting further back, I kind of go for the rhythm and blues songs.
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