One of the first major entries for November's Bathurst 24-Hour race hit the track today with ex-Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong leading a test session at Queensland Raceway, west of Brisbane. Yoong had several runs at the wheel of the...
One of the first major entries for November's Bathurst 24-Hour race hit the track today with ex-Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong leading a test session at Queensland Raceway, west of Brisbane.
Yoong had several runs at the wheel of the Newcastle-based SAE Racing team BMW Super Touring car, in company for the first time with fellow drivers Luke Searle, Geoff Full and Alan Gurr.
"I haven't had much experience in touring cars for a while so it was good to get the feel of the car and to spend some time with the team," said Yoong, who will return home to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday.
"The car we drove today is not the same as it will be at Bathurst. It will be converted to long distance specification with a more durable engine and other changes, but I think it will still be a good car to drive.
"A 24-hour race is all about reliability and about not making mistakes. We have a pretty sensible group of drivers and I see no reason we can't do well.
"However, I am a racer and always want to win and realistically I know we'll have our work cut out against entries like the Porsches and the Mosler."
Yoong, 27, who raced with Australian Mark Webber in the Minardi team last year and completed four rounds of the CART Champ Car series this year, visited Bathurst's Mount Panorama circuit last week.
"It was pretty much as I expected, having seen videos of it in the past. It's definitely one of the best circuits in the world and that's the reason I've jumped at the chance to do the 24-Hour -- I really want to race at Bathurst," he said.
Luke Searle, 27, son of SAE Racing team owner David Searle, said Yoong was quickly on the pace in today's test and provided plenty of feedback to the crew.
"Alex has driven just about everything and always been very, very quick," Searle said.
"He's got so much knowledge and is very good at translating what the car is doing.
"Alex is a real professional and he's going to make a great contribution to our team."
Gurr, 21, will be the team's youngest driver at Bathurst, but he has had plenty of experience, including Formula 3, Formula Holden and four seasons in 2.0-litre Super Touring cars.
Full, 43, has raced at Bathurst for more than 15 years in a variety of touring cars including V8 Supercars and his own GTP Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII.
"I'm really looking forward to Bathurst. It's great to be back in a BMW Super Touring car. It's so good to drive and will be an easy car to do 24 hours in," Full said.
The Bathurst 24-Hour will start at 2 pm on Saturday 22 November, after practice and qualifying on the previous day and evening.
More than 30 entries have been received already for 55 places on the starting grid.
The Channel Seven television network will devote at least six hours' live coverage to the race, mixed with its telecast on Saturday night of the Rugby World Cup final match, which will be watched by fans on two giant screens at the top and bottom of Mount Panorama.
Tickets to the Bathurst 24-Hour are on sale from $32 for adults through Ticketmaster7, on ph. 1300 136 122 or www.ticketmaster7.com.au.