The first thing that strikes you about B-Quik Racing is their iconic black and yellow liveries. Turning their Audi R8 LMS race cars over the years into 585 horsepower bumble bees, they immediately catch the eye as they hurtle around Asia’s circuits. With two series titles in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup with Daniel Bilski, a class win at the Sepang 12 Hours and a Team Championship in last year’s Thailand Super Series to their name, B-Quik Racing also have the requisite sting in the tail needed to succeed on the unforgiving tracks of Asia.
The second thing that strikes you in the B-Quik Racing paddock is the family atmosphere that prevails. From the mechanics to the team personnel to the drivers and to the team owner, Henk Kiks, everyone is in it together, pulling in the same direction. When we sat down with Henk - driver, team boss and B-Quik CEO - we found that this family feeling runs throughout the B-Quik business, into the racing programme and back again.
“I think it’s down to the current developmental cycle of the B-Quik business. A lot of the people who worked for me in my first shop are still part of the company. The guy who was the tyre fitter 18 years ago is my operations director. The secretary is now my business development director. It is a big family. It’s not something you can just create, it has to be organic. I cannot serve 146 stores and 1.3 million customers, my people have built my business. They have all grown up in this business. You really have to cherish these things.”
You see B-Quik is more than just a racing team. B-Quik is, in fact, a quick service car repair business with its workshops found all across its home country, Thailand, with new stores now also open in Cambodia. The business employs almost 3,000 staff and functions as the title sponsor of the eponymous race team.
The family atmosphere can also be credited to the fact that these two main functions of the business are fully integrated. The mechanics and engineers in the B-Quik Racing garages during races are also co-workers – the best and most promising employees in the B-Quik workshops, elevated to the race track through B-Quik’s “Dream Factory” programme that runs through the business. As Henk explains:
“Racing is the ultimate testing ground for everyone. It’s like a fast-forward of reality and there is, of course, a big learning curve there for our staff. But we want to give them a chance to get out of the workshops and develop themselves further in one of the most challenging environments for engineers - racing. So we have set up a race engineering programme.”
“The programme starts as a volunteer basis. We ask our staff, ‘who wants to work on these race cars at these events’, and we have hundreds of applicants. We then make a selection of those applicants based on attitude in the stores, competence, performance etc. The 30-40 who get through that round enter the first year, which is an apprenticeship. In the second year, they work on the cars, working up through the Cup cars we have and then on to our GT3 vehicles, like the Audi R8 LMS ultra. In the third year, the very best are kept as full members of our race teams.”
But the programme doesn’t stop with engineers, as Henk explains, B-Quik have set up the “Dream Factory” to open the door to something that seems like a genuinely unobtainable dream for many – becoming a full race driver.
“Racing in Thailand is improving rapidly, and we want to support that. Also, we want to support our staff. They can work through our systems in the store and become store managers, and higher, but what if they don’t want to get into management? Well, those guys can become race engineers and even racing drivers.”
“For our young driver programme, the participants must have worked for B-Quik for two years. We have a selection process, where suitable candidates are interviewed by their store manager, and 100 people are sent through to the first outright stage: a five-day go-karting programme. We get guys outside of B-Quik to come in and assess their performance on track, see who is improving, who has talent. Then after the five days we take around 16 people, who progress to the next five-day programme, which is racing school. After that we are left with 4-6 finalist, who then start their racing careers in our small race cars.
They start in the Honda Brios, then if they do well, they can progress to the Toyota Vios, which we use for endurance racing – so that means more seat time. Then if they do well there, the next step up is the Porsche 996s or Chevrolet Camaros, then it’s up to the Porsche 911 Cup cars, and finally the full GT3s, like the Audi R8 LMS ultra.”
“In terms of our expectations, we just tell them to enjoy the journey. We want them to gain experience and exposure to what racing is and what it takes to make it in the industry.”
So, at the end of it all, what does racing mean to Henk Kiks, the mastermind behind the racing DNA built into the B-Quik business model?
“There are only a few things in life that take your mind away from your everyday life. For me, in the past it was wind-surfing or skiing, and now it’s motorsport. I get to the track and my holiday starts! When you get in the car, there is only one thing on your mind, the adrenaline is pumping, it doesn’t matter what type of race it is. You’re focused on when you need to get on the power, and where you want to go with it! It doesn’t sound like it, but it’s a great way for me to unwind.”
And with that Henk is off to the race track, amongst the whir of endless activity around him, surrounded by B-Quik guys and girls pursuing their dreams, he is the most relaxed man there.
B-Quik Racing head to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram on October 26-28 for the Thailand Super Series finale with Daniel Bilski joined by Rahel Frey in the team’s yellow and black Audi R8 LMS ultra. Good luck all!