Brian Wong Joins Intersport Racing - Will Co-Pilot Le Mans Prototype Challenge Car In 2010
Following an outstanding 2009 season in the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, Brian Wong has been designated to join Mitch Pagerey driving Inersport Racing's American Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) car for 2010. Intersport Racing is the American Le Mans Series' longest running privateer team with starts in 100 Series events. Following the Series' announcement at Road America designating changes to the class structure, Intersport Racing was the first team to purchase the new American Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) chassis.
Wong has assembled an impressive winning resume in very short order. With experience in everything from Legends Cars, Late Models and the NASCAR Camping World East/West Series - both on oval and road courses, the 20 year-old Wong finished second in the IMSA Patron GT3 Challenge championship even after missing two events due to school commitments. In 12 starts, Wong led the Series in wins taking the checkered flag 9 times. In addition, he dominated qualifying posting 9 pole-starting positions. With the exception of one mechanical failure that resulted in a DNF, Wong finished 2nd in the races he did not win.
The Newport Beach, California native splits time between California and attending Northeastern University in Boston as a 3rd year Communication major. Wong is looking forward to the challenges of driving a prototype with completely different characteristics than the Porsche GT3 Cup car.
"This is an amazing opportunity," said Wong. "I see the Challenge class as a perfect format for me to grow my racing career and move up in the American Le Mans Series. It's great to see the Series taking steps that will allow a driver like me to grow his skills. I'll be racing in a World Class series with arguably the best drivers in the World and on the greatest tracks in North America. It's the perfect scenario for a guy like me. I know I can do well here."
"I can't say enough about the Intersport team," Brian continued. "It feels like it will be the perfect fit for me. They have the experience, the history and I know they can get Mitch and me to the front. Plus I really like the sense of family. It's nice to know that the race program is managed under one roof and the lines of communication are short, open and to the point. These guys know how to get it done."
"We really feel Brian makes the perfect co-driver with Mitch Pagery," added Clint Field. "We met Brian at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the end of the season and had a chance to see him behind the wheel. He's extremely quick. More importantly, we were impressed with his maturity and his understanding of what goes into running a team and his ability to identify is role. He's very focused."
"We also liked that he and Mitch both come with a background in the Patron Challenge class," Clint continued. "We think this will be helpful in setting up the car to suit both drivers. It should simplify and streamline communication between drivers and the crew."
Intersport continues to build during the off-season and expects announcements regarding their flagship LMP1 program in the near future.
"Our commitment to IMSA and the American Le Mans Series is unwavering and stronger than ever," said Clint. We are working hard to expand our effort and grow the Intersport team. IMSA and the ALMS continue to work in order to grow sports car racing in North America. That provides us the incentive and the confidence to continue to invest our racing dollars with the American Le Mans Series."
Earlier this year, in a progressive step designed to keep ahead of the rest of the industry, the ALMS announced the overhaul of its four-class structure beginning with the 2010 season. The four classes will be Le Mans Prototype (LMP), Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC), Grand Touring (GT) and Grand Touring Challenge (GTC).
American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton proclaimed: "Our sport has always been about evolution, and our plans for 2010 and beyond reflect it. I think the American Le Mans Series is ideally positioned to benefit from the current and future focus of all auto manufacturers. Recent announcements by major auto manufacturers and our government leaders confirm that racing series which provides opportunities to showcase and develop relevant new technologies - with an emphasis on the environment - are the future. We have never been more confident in our positioning and look forward to expanding our green racing initiatives to better serve the teams and manufacturers competing with us."
The new class structure is designed to retain the core attributes of what has made the ALMS the most successful professional sports car racing series in the world - world class Le Mans prototypes and GT cars - while also adding new high-value opportunities that expand the accessibility of this platform to new participants
"The new Challenge classes shows us the Series is listening," continued Field. "We see the LMPC car has the perfect addition to our LMP1 program and an extension of our IMSA Lites program. Our program can now provide a true path of growth for drivers who want to succeed in sports car and endurance racing. With the addition of the LMPC car we now provide fully supported programs in three steps-- IMSA Lites, LMP Challenge, and our flagship prototype, LMP1."
LMP Challenge, an exciting new class, was introduced earlier this year in Europe through the collaborative efforts between the ACO and ORECA/DPPI. The ORECA-Courage FLM09 that comprises the class has a minimum weight of 900 kilograms similar to its LMP brethren, but its 450 hp is considerably less than the LMP cars, which range from 500-700 hp. The LMP Challenge car is a true Le Mans prototype, but represents an affordable "value engineered" entry to Le Mans prototype racing. The FLM 09 is a very sophisticated race car with a full carbon fiber chassis, carbon brakes, and an Xtrac sequential gearbox with paddle shifting. All LMPC cars will race on single-supply Michelin tires.
The ALMS class change is supported by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), the organization that operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans and establishes the rules and regulations for Le Mans style racing worldwide.
LMP1 and LMP2 cars will compete as a single LMP class in 2010 with exception of the endurance classics - the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans Powered by MAZDA6 - that will continue to adhere to the ACO technical rules for LMP1 and LMP2. Among the LMP race cars eligible worldwide will be the Acura ARX-02a, Acura ARX-01b, Ginetta-Zytek 09HS (hybrid), Lola B09/86 Mazda, Lola B06/10, Radical SR9, Porsche RS Spyder, Audi R15 TDI, Peugeot 908, Aston Martin Lola and Pescarolo.
One of the founding teams of the American Le Mans Series, Intersport Racing has established itself as a premier independent team in sports car racing. The Dublin, Ohio-based team has taken on mightiest of factory prototype teams in recent seasons and posted noteworthy class victories in that span including an LMP1 triumph at Detroit in 2008 and 2006 at Sebring.
Team owner Clint Field won 2005 P2 class championship, three years after father Jon accomplished the same feat. Clint also reigns as the youngest prototype champion in Series and IMSA history.
In 2008, became first prototype team in Series history to campaign on cellulosic E85, a pioneering effort in the Series' Green Racing initiative and the first privateer team to start in 100 American Le Mans races.
The team campaigned the full-season in 2009 with a Lola B06/10-AER with the father-son combination serving as the primary drivers.
The American Le Mans Series will open its 12th season with America's greatest sports car race, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida from March 17-20. The green flag will fall at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday, March 20 with live coverage on SPEED.