Yoong signs with WPS for enduros

Malaysia's former Formula One driver Alex Yoong and Kiwi driver John McIntyre will team up with David Besnard and Mark Noske to pilot the two Wright Patton Shakespeare Racing (WPS Racing) entries in the V8 Supercar endurance events later this ...

Malaysia's former Formula One driver Alex Yoong and Kiwi driver John McIntyre will team up with David Besnard and Mark Noske to pilot the two Wright Patton Shakespeare Racing (WPS Racing) entries in the V8 Supercar endurance events later this year.

WPS Racing team owner Craig Gore today confirmed the signing of Yoong and McIntyre to drive in the Sandown and Bathurst rounds of the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series.

The signings are a coup for WPS Racing, with Malaysian-born Yoong one of the most accomplished drivers ever to emerge from Asia and McIntyre a three-time endurance winner in New Zealand.

"The fact that offshore-based drivers of their ability are seeking to get involved in the V8 Supercar series is a tremendous endorsement for the sport and its management," said Gore.

"I'm rapt just to be able to offer both John and Alex a drive, let alone them accepting it.

"This gives WPS a high-powered team for the endurance events and we are looking forward to a competitive performance from the boys."

They will be joined in the WPS stable by regular drivers Besnard and Noske.

"We haven't finalized the pairings at this stage so we may have an all international team and a local team or a combination of the two," said Gore.

Yoong, who is in Queensland this weekend gaining experience in the V8 category through a drive in the Konica Minolta Series, said he was thrilled to have secured a start in the endurance events.

"Even though it is a new team, WPS Racing has shown it has a great desire to be at the top of its sport and that makes it an exciting team to be involved with," said Yoong.

WPS Falcon BA in action WPS Falcon BA in action

"Being from Malaysia I have always known about Bathurst and the V8 Supercars and I think you would have to say it is the best touring car category in the world.

"The endurance drives for WPS give me some good exposure to the category and I would like to think I could secure something more permanent in the future."

The 27-year-old Malaysian, who last year competed in the US Champ Car World Series, has a celebrated history in motorsport internationally.

He began racing motorcross at age eight and went on to become a teenage driving sensation in Asia before shifting to Europe to race in categories including the British Formula Renault Sport Championships, the British Formula 3 Championships, the Italian Formula 3000 and the International Formula 3000 Championships.

In 2001 he joined the European Minardi Formula One team and became the first Malaysian F1 competitor and the first Asian non-Japanese F1 driver in nearly half a century.

He finished a career-high seventh in the 2002 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

McIntyre has a similarly impressive record in the sport and last year had two race wins in Australia -- at Phillip Island and Winton -- in the Tranzam category.

He is a three-time endurance winner in New Zealand, including a victory earlier this month, and is a former winner of the NZ Motor Sports Person of the Year (young male) award.

McIntyre, who had his first Supercar drive in Australia in 2002, said he was looking forward to getting back into the category.

"It has taken a lot of effort in the Tranzam and Porsche GT3 Cup series to get to this point so it is fair to say I'm excited," he said.

"I suppose I have a never-say-die attitude and that has paid off.

"I first tested with WPS in April and the development from then until now has been very impressive. There is also a great spirit and passion among the guys and you get the feeling it is going to be a very successful team."

McIntyre said he and Yoong planned to have a test session ahead of the endurance events.

"Alex and I are looking forward to concentrating on Car #48 for the test day. We will have a chance to set up the car and get the seat position to a setting we are both comfortable with," he said.

-ay-

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Series V8SUPERCARS , CAMS