A few days before the start of the 2017 WEC we caught up with Mok Weng Sun at the WEC Prologue in Monza
Mok Weng Sun steps up to the FIA WEC for the first time in 2017 with a huge cv in Asian GT racing behind him. Winner of the Malaysian Super Series, and triple winner of the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance race at Sepang, Malaysia, triple Championship winner of the GT Asia Series and, in 2016, winner of the GT Class Championship in the Asian Le Mans Series, a Championship title that catapulted him, and his Singapore-based, Clearwater Racing team, onto the entry for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.
And they weren’t there just to make up the numbers either, pole position in the hotly contested GTE Am class and fourth in class, the podium close enough to touch!
So how does a team from Singapore, and a gentleman driver, make it to the biggest race in the world, and then onto the entry for a global Championship?
“That’s a good question, and it’s a long answer, but essentially it’s about pushing hard and making the right choices."
“After 11 years in the sport it is very, very cool to graduate to racing on the global stage."
“What’s interesting though is that I’m not as apprehensive as I was last year. ahead of my first appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Now though, after a great week at Le Mans in 2016, I feel much more prepared, I know much better now how to deal with the faster cars and I plan just to soak up every single experience that the season throws at me!”
What was it that proved to be the breakthrough from an increasingly busy, competitive and crowded Asian racing scene, onto the world stage?
“The Asian Le Mans Series was an absolutely crucial step on the ladder for me, and for the whole team.
I started out in single class racing in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, then into GT3s where all of the cars are more or less in parity with each other through Balance of Performance."
“When I first dipped a toe into the Asian Le Mans Series, I started with the odd one-off here and there for the first couple of years, it was my first experience then racing with a couple of Protoypes out there in the field. That was my first time racing in a field with significantly faster cars."
“As the Asian Le Mans Series grid grew, with more LMP2s and now with a sizeable grid of LMP3s too, it was a good experience learning how to deal with the traffic, learning how to do it safely, and how not to give up so much time when you are doing it. A real new challenge, and when you get the hang of it, really an enjoyable part of the challenge, measuring your own progress in that sort of environment.
It was great preparation for me to go to Le Mans last year, really a season long dress rehearsal."
With a growing number of truly talented teams and drivers emerging on the Asian racing scene that have the Le Mans 24 Hours on their bucket list, or indeed on their business plans, what would be your recommendation for their path towards that?
“Asian Le Mans Series, and the Sprint Cup are the first place to start if you are seriously targeting Le Mans, and that’s whether you are in a GT car, or in a Prototype. There are some great races and Series in Asia but nothing prepares you for mixed class racing like mixed class racing!"
“You have to get the foundations built right to both understand the challenge, and build up the skill sets. Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup, and then the Asian Le Mans Series are the first stepping stones on that path, and having done it for a number of years, including two full seasons we felt we were ready as a team, and I felt myself ready for it as a driver, only when I’d earned my spurs out there on track.
Le Mans was a test of that and, very happily, I found myself enjoying it, which is incredibly important. We also found that we were reasonably competitive too, again something that was down to the preparation we had had over the previous seasons, that gave the whole team the confidence we all needed not just to take part, but to compete!"
Did it surprise you just how many people knew about the team when you arrived in Europe?
“Yes! It is really humbling, clearly the team and the car already had a fanbase before we got here so the message about Asian Le Mans Series and our other racing is getting around!
And not just in Europe either. I was invited to take part in an Australian racing forum and was amazed at just how much these guys already knew about out programmes.
They knew we were coming to the FIA WEC, and they knew that this year we have been lucky enough to be allowed two cars at Le Mans.
We haven’t raced in Australia for a number of years and it’s amazing that the fanbase has followed us since then, through the Asian Le Mans Series, Le Mans 24 Hours, and now on into the WEC!
Now we’re looking forward to hopefully expanding that fanbase even more, and to seeing some familiar faces in France in June. It’s been quite a ride!"
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