Southeast Asian teams in 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours

Eurasia Motorsport’s entry is the No. 33 Oreca 05 Nissan in the LMP2 class. Photo credit: Eurasia Motorsport Facebook page

The Philippines and Singapore are each set to field their first-ever representative teams in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race.

Eurasia Motorsport will be the first Philippine-entered team in the Le Mans race, fielding a Nissan-powered Oreca 05 in the LMP2 class. It is also a full-season entry for the second year in a row in the European Le Mans Series. A majority of the team’s crew members and technicians are Filipino.

The driver lineup is multinational, consisting of young Chinese racer Pu Jun Jin, Dutchman Nico Pieter de Bruijn, and French LMP2 ace Tristan Gommendy, who is an experienced racer at Le Mans. In the 2014 edition of the race, Gommendy was part of Thiriet by TDS Racing’s lineup that propelled a Ligier JS P2 to 2nd place in the LMP2 class.

After a solid debut year in the ELMS in 2015, Eurasia Motorsport upgraded their chassis from the older Oreca 03R to the new generation closed-cockpit Oreca 05. The car, along with the Nissan engine, is a proven package as demonstrated in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans where KCMG raced to the LMP2 class win with their own Oreca Nissan. In an effort to facilitate a more seamless transition to the new chassis, veteran driver Gommendy has been added for the full ELMS season, joining incumbent drivers de Bruijn and Pu.

Eurasia spent the majority of 2015 in the midfield of the competitive LMP2 class in the ELMS and despite the new chassis and Gommendy’s experience, they have not had favorable results over the first two races this season. A DNF in Silverstone albeit a promising fifth place finish in Imola only has them down at eighth out of ten teams in the LMP2 standings.

The key for the Eurasia team is to capitalize on Gommendy’s experience at Le Mans to guide de Bruijn and Pu who are first-timers at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Eurasia has done an exceptional job of staying out of trouble in four-hour ELMS races but Le Mans is a whole different monster which will push the team’s endurance to the limit.

Clearwater Racing’s entry is the No. 61 Ferrari 458 Italia in the GTE-Am class. Photo credit:

Meanwhile, Singaporean-registered team Clearwater Racing’s successes in the Asian Le Mans Series have landed them an invite to the prestigious 24-hour race—Singapore’s first team to enter Le Mans. They are set to compete in the GTE-Am class with a Ferrari 458 Italia GTE.

Team principal Mok Weng Sun, a Singapore-born Malaysian whose profession is being an equity fund manager, forms part of the driver lineup, alongside Japanese Keita Sawa, and British sports car racer Rob Bell. Driver lineups in the GTE-Am class can have a maximum of one Platinum or Gold-rated professional driver so while Mok and Sawa are considered the non-professionals of the lineup, Bell is the anchor, being a Platinum-rated professional with lots of experience racing in Le Mans, most recently with Aston Martin Racing last year.

Clearwater received their automatic invitation to Le Mans after claiming the GT class championship of the most recent season of the Asian Le Mans Series with the same driver lineup of Mok, Sawa, and Bell. However, they won the championship with a McLaren 650S GT3, which has no GTE-spec to run at Le Mans so instead, the team acquired the chassis of the 2014 Le Mans GTE-Pro class-winning Ferrari 458 from AF Corse along with technical support.

Team principal Mok along with his Clearwater squad are no strangers to endurance racing success with the Ferrari 458, taking the GT3 version to back-to-back victories in the Sepang 12 Hours of 2013 and 2014. With its history of success in Asia, the Singaporean team looks to be competitive in European soil, especially within a diverse field of GT cars.

The 84th running of the Le Mans 24-Hour race starts this Saturday at 3:00 pm local time in France. Television viewers in the Philippines and Singapore may enjoy live coverage from Eurosport with the race starting at 9:00 pm (UTC +8:00).


Nissan’s Failed Attempt at LMP1 Innovation

I succumbed to the hype that revolved around the Super Bowl commercial where Nissan was poised to reveal their much-awaited LMP1 contender. Before the big reveal, reports circulated that the car had a revolutionary and innovative design, incorporating a front-engine, front-wheel drive system—highly unconventional for hybrid-power sports car prototypes. Nissan wanted to return to endurance racing’s highest class, aiming to join the ranks of their compatriots Toyota and German manufacturers Audi and Porsche. They backed up their venture with aggressive marketing, taking a $15 million commercial during America’s most-watched television program.

The commercial last February was meant to be the beginning but before the year could even end, it proved to be the apotheosis of Nissan’s ambitious project. Continue reading “Nissan’s Failed Attempt at LMP1 Innovation”