YOONG EXPERIENCES HIGHS AND LOWS IN MAIDEN LE MANS 24 HOUR RACE
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 19 June 2006 -- A1 Team Malaysia driver, Alex Yoong, competed in his first Le Mans 24 hour race, the blue riband event of global sportscar racing, this past weekend, joining Stefan Johansson and A1 Team Netherlands boss, Jan Lammers, in the RfH Dome Judd car.
The team rang strongly for over 12 hours and were lying third in the race until an accident put them out of the race. Although the RfH team were unable to complete this gruelling challenge they fought hard every lap and despite a few problems, showed that they are strong competitors.
Yoong drove three stints, alternating time in the car with his team mates, and was in the car, running in third place, at the time of the accident. He had left the pits and was braking for the chicane, but went off into the gravel. It is thought that a throttle problem caused this, but the team will not be able to confirm this until the car is inspected fully.
Yoong was saddened to be out of the race and said afterwards, "I down-changed and braked for the chicane but the car surged forwards throwing me into the gravel, breaking the steering on both wheels, so I just wasn't able to get back to the garage. It felt like the throttle was stuck open, but we are not sure. When we get the car back, we'll be able to download the data and review it thoroughly. I'm pretty sure there was a mechanical failure."
Despite his disappointment, Yoong enjoyed his maiden Le Mans event, reporting, "It's such a unique experience, with a very long lap and a challenging circuit to master. I drove in darkness which I've never done before and that took a while to get used to. It's quite difficult as you can't really see where you're going and need to find reference points all around the circuit to get the right braking points."
He adds, "I'm gutted that we're out of the race. I think that, barring any really drastic problems, we could have finished in our podium position. But it was a fantastic experience, I must thank the team for all their efforts, they were excellent. The car was good too. We'd had a few little problems, but managed to overcome these and were definitely looking strong for the second half of the race. I can appreciate why so many drivers return here year after year. It's a real driver and car challenge and it's easy to see why it's so addictive. I hope I'll be back next year for another crack at it!"
The Le Mans 24 hour race is a stand-alone event within the sportscar racing calendar. Yoong will continue to drive with the RfH team in the Le Mans Series, with the next race taking place in Nurburgring, Germany on 15-16 July. He will return to A1 Grand Prix action on 1 October at the season opener in Zaandvort, Holland.