Christian Bakija doesn’t have any trouble describing the appeal of motor racing.
“It’s fast and fun. I think I’ll just leave it at those two words,” he said.
The 15-year-old from Faulconbridge turned heads in motorsport circles last year when he was selected to take part in an elite driver development camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in July. He finished the year test driving Formula Fords at a racing academy in Victoria that identifies promising athletes and helps guide their progress in the sport.
While many teenagers would be champing at the bit to start racing competitively after such a promising year, Christian is happy to take things slowly — off the track at least — in a sport defined by speed.
His focus for 2014 remains on testing Formula Fords before hopefully racing the following
year — in a new Formula 4 junior racing category being introduced in Australia as a pathway to Formula 1.
The approach is part of a long-term plan the Springwood High School student admits might “sound cheesy” but is already winning him plaudits.
“I’ve mapped my life in a way,” said Christian. “I have ‘x’ amount of time to get into all these different classes [of motor racing] to get into Formula 1 which is the big goal.”
His determination impressed champion Karter and Formula Ford driver Greg Woodrow, the man behind the Race Academy where Christian tested his skills in December.
Woodrow said promising drivers needed more than talent to succeed in the sport.
“Not only do they have to have talent but they’ve got to have the right attitude and the right mental approach as well, and that’s what I’m seeing with Christian... We see him as an opportunity to be that new star but we are also very aware there’s a lot of hard work and there’s a long way to go between now and then.”
Although his main focus will be on honing his skills at the Race Academy in Victoria this year, Christian will continue go-kart racing, a sport where he came second in the junior division of the Combined Districts Club Championship last year.
How often he gets to test his Formula Ford skills in 2014 will depend on sponsorship opportunities. With each trip to Winton Raceway costing more than $2500, it is an expensive passion.
“Today in motorsport if you want to make it, with two parents on a normal wage, you are not going to be able to make it,” said Greg Woodrow. “They’re going to need some assistance.”
For more information about sponsoring Christian Bakija contact his father Steve on 0418 413 266.