ALEX YOONG GETS BIGGER, HEAVIER AND LONGER THIS WEEKEND A1 Team Malaysia driver, Alex Yoong, makes the switch from the open-wheel A1GP car to the larger sportscar prototype racer this weekend, competing at the Le Mans Series event in...
ALEX YOONG GETS BIGGER, HEAVIER AND LONGER THIS WEEKEND
A1 Team Malaysia driver, Alex Yoong, makes the switch from the open-wheel A1GP car to the larger sportscar prototype racer this weekend, competing at the Le Mans Series event in Valencia, Spain, in a six hour endurance race.
Yoong joins A1 Team Czech Republic driver, Jan Charouz for the second of the six rounds in the Series, and along with two American events, and the famed Le Mans 24 Hours race. The duo expects to contest each event in a new Lola Judd LMP1 B07-17 (A1GP calendar permitting).
The amphitheatre style circuit at Valencia, which allows spectators to view the entire track from any vantage point, is a favourite for drivers and fans alike. The Le Mans Series makes its first visit to the track this year and with a forty six car grid - the maximum capacity for this facility - the 4 kilometre track will be a busy place on Sunday afternoon.
A1 Team Malaysia's busy winter schedule of A1GP competition hasn't allowed Yoong to test the prototype sportscar prior to his first race weekend, but the experienced driver will quickly adapt to this style of racecar. The Lola Judd is over 300 kilos heavier than the A1GP car at 925 kilogrammes versus 600 kilogrammes and is longer and wider too. Although the horsepower is greater in the sportscar, the additional weight slows it down, so the overall speed of the two different types of machinery is similar, with the sportscar having 700 bhp horsepower to the A1GP's 520.
Yoong says of changing cars, "I don't see this as a problem as I had the same situation last year when I was driving with the Racing for Holland team. I have to change my driving style slightly and the mental approach is different, as you can't attack quite so much with the endurance style event. Car set-up also differs and although you still drive flat out in the sportscar, just as you do in the A1GP car, there's a conservative tinge, as it's such a long race."
Despite a lack of pre-event testing of the sportcars Yoong is looking forward to this weekend, "We've seen that this car is quick, so we can battle with the best in Spain, and with such a long race, our goal will be finish the race. The car is brand new though and only completed one event so far, so it hasn't done much mileage and the most important factor is reliability. If the car can go the distance, there's every chance of a strong result."
"As well as being a race in itself, this weekend is also a testing ground in preparation for Le Mans 24 hour race, the next event for us after Spain. It'll be very important to get as much information as possible about the car which we can use to help in our goal of a Le Mans win."
Yoong was forced to miss the first round of the Le Mans Series due to a clash with the Shanghai A1GP event, but while Yoong was sampling the high-tech Chinese track, the Charouz team were pounding the historic Monza circuit finishing ninth in the LMP1 class.
The Le Mans Series 1000km of Valencia race weekend starts on Friday with free practice, followed by further practice and qualifying on Saturday with the race starting at 1.30pm on Sunday 6 May.
-credit: team malaysia