The official season opening team test sessions were held in Suzuka Circuit on the 2nd and 3rd of March 2000. A total of 20 cars from 13 teams turned up in the two days of two sessions per day official tests run in warm spring sunshine.
Malaysia's Alex Yoong with the LeMans run new team, TEAM MALAYSIA was not over-awed by the presence of Formula 1 star T.Takagi and ChampCars star, N.Hattori amongst other top Japanese and European F3000 racers. He just went about his job with strict instructions from his team boss K.Homma to not bother about times but to learn how to work well with his team engineer, A.Takemoto and mechanics as well as to get use to and learn the Reynard race car.
Over the four sessions of the two days, Alex progressively worked his times down from 1m 49.884s to 1m 48.308s. He completed 69 laps of the 5.864 km full Grand Prix circuit in his 1999 car, some 2.6 seconds behind fastest man, R.Michigami of Team DoCoMo Dandelion in the all new year 2000 Reynard 2KL car.
Alex finished the four day session in 16th position out of 20 cars. Alex is expected to get his full year 2000 kit for his Reynard 99L by round 3 to be held in the Mine Circuit on the 21st of May. He will race the 99 car in round one at Suzuka 26th March and round 2 at TwinRing Motegi on the 16th of April. Second after two days was T.Tachikawa of Team Cosmo Oil Cerumo at 1m 45.787s in a 99 car while F1 returnee T.Takagi was third with Team PIAA Nakajima at 1m 45.895s.
Team Director, Homma commented on Alex's work as, "A solid two days of work. It will turn out good for him later as his fitness will keep improving with the mileage he accumulated."
"He followed my instructions to not worry about the times and to target going very quickly when he returns to Suzuka for round 1's qualifying on the 25th of March. At the next tests at Motegi on the 18th and 19th of March, Alex has to do the same and not crash out trying for quick times and lose valuable practice laps." Homma added.
Alex was slightly sore at the end of the two days but still felt physically good, "It's extremely physical driving the Formula Nippon cars. You can so easily lose it big time if you are not fit and lose concentration. I went through the 130R Bend at 245kph and still that's not fast enough compared to Team LeMans' Hideaki Noda."
"I know where I'm slow.at the S Bends and the 130R but now's not the time to go flat out. I need all the mileage I can get and I'm very satisfied with mine and my team's work over the two days. We've got some way to go. But to finish in the top ten in the race it's achievable."
Meanwhile, Alex is preparing with his sponsors Japan Race Promotion for the Team Launch Press Conference scheduled for the 8th of March 2000 at the Malaysian Embassy in Tokyo which will be hosted by the Ambassador of Malaysia.
A total of some 100 journalists from Japan and wire services are expected to attend.