Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia--March 19, 2003--Late Monday evening, Malaysia's first Formula 1 driver received a call from his manager in England, Rick Gorne, to pack his bags to leave for Monterrey in Mexico within the next 12 hours. Gorne had just received a call from Dale Coyne Racing for Alex Yoong to be ready to drive in the second round of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series organised by CART, scheduled during March 21 - 23, 2003, the same weekend as the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix.
"I've always known that something was going to pop up for me, but the real trick was to get a drive that I wanted without needing to buy the drive. It's fine if the team can capitalise on my performance to get sponsorship for the team. I aim to repay their faith in me through my performance as well as get more funding for the team as a result of the performance. My manager has been working hard since fall to secure this drive for me, but I did not expect to be called up until Round 3 in Long Beach," added Yoong.
Dale Coyne Racing has been with C.A.R.T. for twenty years. The team finished 9th with Swiss driver, Joey Camathias, in St. Petersburg, Florida in the opening round on February 23rd. The team's other driver, Roberto Gonzalez from Mexico, retired from the race.
Yoong went to the Mexican Embassy Tuesday morning for his visa and caught the Tuesday afternoon's 3 p.m. Malaysian Airlines flight for Los Angeles from the KL International Airport to connect to a flight and arrived in Monterrey, Mexico on Wednesday morning.
"It's a bit of a mad rush to make it here, but I'm adjusting quickly to the American time zone. The challenge now is to take full advantage of the three untimed sessions and two qualifying sessions to get up to racing speed by Sunday as I've not been inside a proper race car since last October. The compulsory HANS head restraint device, which I'll be using for the first time, should, hopefully, fit well and not present a problem," enthused Yoong, before he left for the aiport.
Malaysians will, indeed, have a double celebration as Kuala Lumpur hosts the second round of the Formula One World Championship while, fourteen hours away on the other side of the world, Malaysia will be represented by their own Alex Yoong in the Champ Car World Series in Mexico on the same weekend, culminating in both the F1 and Champ Car races on Sunday, March 23rd.