S'pore amateur team stun with Le Mans pole

Clearwater Racing, a local team led by Singapore-born Malaysian Mok Weng Sun, made history on Thursday when they secured pole position in the GTE Amateur class of this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It is the first time a Singapore-registered outfit is competing in the French event, one of the most prestigious and dangerous endurance car races in the world.

Held annually since 1923, it sees 60 teams across four categories - three professional and one amateur - each with three drivers working in shifts - racing non-stop for 24 hours at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Danish driver Allan Simonsen was the last fatality in 2013. In total, more than 20 people have died during the Le Mans race week.

Mok, a 48-year-old private equity fund manager, is the team principal. He started racing competitively in 2007 and is licensed by the Singapore Motor Sports Association.

He is a three-time Asia GT champion and has won the Sepang 12 Hours three times.

Mok is one of three drivers at Clearwater, alongside Japanese Keita Sawa and British professional racer Rob Bell.

Said the 48-year-old Mok: "We're really proud to fly the Singapore flag and this has given the entire team a huge boost. It's a long race so starting on pole won't have a huge impact on the outcome. But it's a big thrill and shows we're competitive and hopefully can get onto the podium on Sunday."

During qualifying, Bell had clocked 3min 56.827sec on the 13.629km track, which was the fastest time of the 13 teams in their amateur division. Aston Martin Racing were second (3:57.198), followed by Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing (3:57.513).

All 60 cars will be flagged off at the same time at 3pm (9pm Singapore time) today and Clearwater's Ferrari 458 GTE will start 47th on the grid, behind all bar one of the professional teams.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore amateur team stun with Le Mans pole'. Print Edition | Subscribe