Motor racing: Clearwater drive to the top despite finishing fifth

Mok Weng Sun's Clearwater Racing team at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the second stop of the nine-leg World Endurance Championship.
Mok Weng Sun's Clearwater Racing team at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the second stop of the nine-leg World Endurance Championship.PHOTO: MOK WENG SUN

A problematic race could not stop Singapore-registered Clearwater Racing team from continuing their good run of form in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) series yesterday.

The three-driver team, consisting of Singapore-born Malaysian Mok Weng Sun, Japanese Keita Sawa and Irishman Matt Griffin, finished fifth in the GTE-Amateur category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

They faced a challenging race after being involved in an early-race collision at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France.

Mok, who leads the team, said: "We got hit by a car five hours into the race which caused a tyre blowout and some body damage. (We) lost two laps as a result, otherwise we'd be right in it, fighting for the outright win (in the category)."

Then, with less than 75 minutes to go, a gearbox compressor leak limited the No. 61 Ferrari's pace, forcing Griffin and Sawa to slow down and nurse the car home.

The result comes after a victory in Silverstone in April and a second-place finish at Spa-Francorchamps last month that left them five points behind Britain's Aston Martin Racing in the WEC GTE-Amateur standings.

With the four cars that finished ahead of them not involved in the series, Clearwater leapfrogged to the top of the table with 90 points, 15 ahead of Aston Martin Racing.

In the top-tier LMP1 category, the Porsche LMP Team of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley finished nine laps ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing. They were the only two teams that finished in the six-car field.

This is the second year that Clearwater are competing at the prestigious Le Mans race. They were the first Singapore-registered outfit to participate in the annual endurance race last year, when they finished fourth.

Despite posting a worse result this year, Mok remained upbeat.

"It was a relatively good race. The car held together after the contact to finish the race," he said. "That's rare for a 24-hour race where cars can break down and have mechanical damage. It's a good start to the championship, to finish the race and capture the maximum amount of championship points, but the competition is tough."

They head to Germany next month for the fourth leg of the nine-race series and will finish the season on Nov 18 in Bahrain.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2017, with the headline 'Clearwater drive to the top despite finishing fifth'. Print Edition | Subscribe