Motorsports: Mok Weng Sun aims for world championship

Clearwater Racing drivers (from front) Mok Weng Sun, Matt Griffin and Keita Sawa with the Ferrari 488 GT3 they are using in the Asian Le Mans Series. They will know next month if the team are accepted for the prestigious World Endurance Championship.
Clearwater Racing drivers (from front) Mok Weng Sun, Matt Griffin and Keita Sawa with the Ferrari 488 GT3 they are using in the Asian Le Mans Series. They will know next month if the team are accepted for the prestigious World Endurance Championship.PHOTO COURTESY OF BUGGER SHOTS

His Clearwater team want spot in endurance series after good debut in iconic Le Mans race

Barely six months after making history as the first Singapore-registered team to compete in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans car race, Clearwater Racing are poised for another run at the record books.

The team, led by Singapore-born Malaysian Mok Weng Sun, have applied for a full-season entry into the 2017 Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) World Endurance Championship (WEC). They will lease and drive the Ferrari 488 GTE in the GTE-Am category.

Should their application be successful - the final line-up for all four categories will be announced on Feb 2 - it would make Clearwater the first team from South-east Asia to compete in the prestigious WEC.

Clearwater qualified on pole at last year's Le Mans before eventually finishing fourth.

Mok, who is licensed by the Singapore Motor Sports Association, told The Straits Times yesterday: "We're jumping into the deep end but at Le Mans last year, we weren't intimidated by the other drivers and cars and we proved we could be competitive."

One added benefit of being involved in the WEC is that teams are guaranteed entry into the Le Mans race. The June 17-18 race in France is the third leg on the nine-stop series.

Mok said: "We definitely want to go back and with more experience at this level, improve and get into the top three."

The 49-year-old team principal is a private equity fund manager who started racing competitively in 2007. He is a three-time Asia GT champion and has won the Sepang 12 Hours thrice.

He was in Thailand competing in the Asian Le Mans Series alongside team-mates Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin. All three will form the line-up for the WEC.

Clearwater and their 15-man crew, assisted by Ferrari's AF Corse outfit, will conduct testing in Italy in March ahead of the first race, the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 16 at the Silverstone circuit in England. The eight-month WEC ends with the 6 Hours of Bahrain on Nov 18.

Former Formula One drivers Mark Webber and Sebastien Buemi have competed in the WEC and won in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Clearwater's managing director Arj Pillay Kulasegaram said: "The challenge will be to adapt to the specific WEC rules and regulations as quickly and consistently as possible and developing a keen strategy to keep us at the forefront of this WEC run that we've undertaken."

Mok declined to reveal the budget - preparing for the 2016 Le Mans cost a six-figure sum - but called it a "sizable investment".

The team will look for sponsors to help defray some of the costs.

This being his WEC debut, Mok noted that he was unfamiliar with several of the circuits, including the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico and Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas - both of which stage Formula One races.

But he remained bullish about Clearwater's chances. He said: "This is endurance racing. You don't need to be the fastest over a single lap. It's about being smart and bringing the car home cleanly and scoring points in every race.

"If we can get multiple podium finishes and possibly win a race, we have a good chance of doing well. It would be a dream to win the world championship."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'Mok aims for the world c'ship'. Print Edition | Subscribe