Leona’s roar

Al­though mo­tor­sports is still male-dom­i­nated, never-say-die Leona Chin aims to break the glass ceil­ing for the fairer sex.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Personality - By THOMAS HUONG huong@thes­tar.com.my

HOME­GROWN mo­tor­sports ath­lete Leona Chin can iden­tify with Ral­liart’s slo­gan “The Spirit of Com­pe­ti­tion”. The gutsy lass with a sweet smile and bubbly per­son­al­ity is hop­ing to level up in her ca­reer by break­ing into GT rac­ing this year.

“I hope to take my mo­tor­sports ca­reer to the next level, by join­ing the Audi R8 LMS Cup. How­ever, this will need lots of funding and we are sourc­ing for spon­sors,” said the fi­nance grad­u­ate who hails from Subang Jaya.

Leona is buoyed by her sec­ond place over­all fin­ish in her de­but ap­pear­ance in the Re­nault Clio Cup China Se­ries 2016, a one-make race or­gan­ised by FRD Mo­tor­sports with races in China, Thai­land and Korea.

She ven­tured into mo­tor­sports when she was 20 and quickly be­came known as “girl drifter”.

In the past 10 years, Leona has joined var­i­ous en­durance, ral­ly­ing, drift­ing and cir­cuit races and her achieve­ments in­clude first place fin­ishes in the 2013 In­ter­na­tional Rally of Perlis (Class 5) and 2015 South­ern Thai­land Gymkhana (Ladies Class).

In the 2015 Cater­ham Mo­tor­sports Asia Cham­pi­onship in SIC, Leona also came in sec­ond and third place forr Round 6 and 9 re­spec­tively.

Leona also be­came an am­bas­sador for Mit­subishi Mo­tors Malaysia last year after star­ring in the fa­mous “Sales Girl Drifts Cus­tomers in Pickup Truck” prank video which gar­nered more than 6.2 mil­lion views on YouTube.

In the hi­lar­i­ous video, Leona played a “dumb” car show­room sales­girl who gave male cus­tomers an un­for­getable drift ride in a Mit­subishi Trit­ton pick-up truck.

More re­cently, Leona also starred in an­other video for Mit­subishi Mo­tors Malaysia, where the Trit­ton pulls a 31-tonne CAT 769D dump truck.

“I am proud of rep­re­sent­ing Mit­subishi - a strongs and pres­ti­gious brand with a great mo­tor­sports back­ground,” she said dur­ing a re­cent pho­to­shoot with new Ral­liart mer­chan­dise.

Founded in April 1984, Ral­liart was Mit­subishi Mo­tors’ ticket into rally and off-road rac­ing scenes.

Ral­liart was in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of cham­pi­onship-win­ning mo­tor­sport ve­hi­cles.

The Mit­subishi Mo­tors Ral­liart team was renowned for win­ning the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, Asia Pa­cific Rally Cham­pi­onship and the Dakar Rally.

Mit­subishi Mo­tors took seven con­sec­u­tive wins and 12 over­all vic­to­ries in 225 years of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Dakar Rally.

While the di­vi­sion no longer heav­ily de­vel­ops Mit­subishi’s rac­ing ve­hi­cles, it still has plenty to of­fer to mo­tor­sports fans of “The Spirit of Com­pe­ti­tion” in the form of car ac­ces­sories, bou­tique mer­chan­dise and sport­ing ap­parel.

The lat­est col­lec­tion of of­fi­cial Ral­liart mer­chan­dise in­clude round neck T-shirts (from RM68), polo T-shirts (from RM81), Ral­liart caps (RM54), dry bag (RM69), belt (RM165) and Ral­liart Adi­das team bag (RM328).

Mit­subishi Mo­tors Malaysia has 18 Ral­liart bou­tiques naa­tion­wide.

Visit http://mit­subishi-mo­tors.com.my/ral­liart for more details on Ral­liart mer­chan­dise.

“I re­ally like the Ral­liart slo­gan - The Spirit of Com­pe­ti­tion. The mer­chan­dise has mod­ern and trendy de­signs, and caters to mo­tor­sports fans. I es­pe­cially like the dry bag which is wa­ter­proof and has a 15-litre ca­pac­ity, as I can use it for out­door activities.”

Last year, Leona also be­came a proud owner of the fifth-gen­er­a­tion Mit­subishi Tri­ton VGT Ad­ven­ture.

“It’s a very pow­er­ful all-rounder pick-up truck. I fetch my mom and fam­ily, and can use it for out­door ac­tivites, and carry my work­ing gear to mo­tor­sports events.

“My mom was sur­prised at how com­fort­able the truck was; it has so many pas­sen­ger car-like com­forts. Re­verse park­ing a pick-up truck isn’t easy but the Tri­ton has a re­verse cam­era for more con­ve­nience.”

The Tri­ton is Leona’s first pick-up truck, and the lat­est Tri­ton 2.4 with the MIVEC turbo diesel en­gine was also her drive dur­ing the 2016 Bor­neo Sa­fari in Sabah, which is widely ac­knowl­edged as one of the tough­est off-road ve­hi­cle events in Malaysia.

For the Bor­neo Sa­fari, Mit­subishi Mo­tors Malaysia had fielded four new Tri­tons which com­pleted the 400km jun­gle drive with­out any change of ve­hi­cle parts dur­ing the ar­du­ous jour­ney.

“Our Tri­tons did not have me­chan­i­cal is­sues, and this was a great suc­cess for Mit­subishi. I found it an ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and I was lucky not to have been bit­ten by any leches,” she laughed.

Leona has also been busy par­tic­i­pat­ing in Mit­subishi Mo­tors Malaysia road­shows all over the coun­try.

“It’s been a lot of fun do­ing the road­shows; meet­ing so many fans in Pe­nang, Jo­hor Baru, Miri, Kuching, Kota Kin­a­balu and demon­strat­ing the drift ca­pa­bil­ity of the Tri­ton with them as pas­sen­gers.”

In the past two years, Leona has been im­press­ing au­di­ences in China after star­ing in tele­vi­sion va­ri­ety shows such as Xuan Feng Che Shou (cool wind pro­fes­sional driver) and Car God Ar­rives.

She also owns ku­raz­mo­tor­sports.com which is an on­line shop for car parts and ac­ces­sories.

Still, as a lady in an over­whelm­ingly male-dom­i­nated pro­fes­sion, Leona has to con­tinue to prove her­self to scep­tics.

“Peo­ple still look down on me. They think I am just a pretty doll. But when I get into a car, I turn into a monster,” she laughed.

Leona with the Tri­ton VGT Ad­ven­ture X.

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