WIN Motorsport impressed on its debut on the world’s most famous race track, France’s Circuit de la Sarthe – home of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours – making Hong Kong motorsport history with the top ten finish in the first of the two Road to Le Mans races.
The only Hong Kong team amongst the 49-strong international entry from 12 nations, local driver William Lok and team mate Richard Bradley put up a superb battle to take home 10th and 11th places in the intense double-header warm-up to the main event, the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The two, 55-minute races were run on Thursday, June 15 and Saturday, June 17, with the WIN Motorsport LMP3 car competing against the world’s most experienced and established teams in the category. Carrying the momentum of their double Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup victories on the team’s debut in Malaysia recently, and as the only team from Southeast Asia entered in the prestigious event, WIN Motorsport arrived in La Sarthe superbly prepared and ready to take on the challenge.
Storming to a third row starting position after the first qualifying session, WIN Motorsport had it all to do in Race 2 from the 12th row of the grid having been hampered by traffic and red flag interruptions.
“Both Road to Le Mans races this week were incredibly tough,” said Richard Bradley. “WIN Motorsport has demonstrated exceptional professionalism and determination. Some of the teams competing here have been established for decades, so to come here and record a top ten finish and finish both races is truly an impressive achievement. As the sole Southeast Asian entry amongst a field of 49 cars WIN Motorsport has proved that Asian motorsport is now a true force to be reckoned with.”
Race 1 saw WIN Motorsport battle amongst the fiercely-competitive field over 13 laps of the gruelling 13.29km circuit to cross the line in 10th, thereby etching its name in the Hong Kong motorsport history books.
Saturday’s Race 2 saw early drama when the car was hit on the opening lap, the resulting damage dramatically reducing the car’s aerodynamics and hindering its performance on the straights. In fact, a post-race examination of the car revealed just what a stellar job the Bradley and Lok had done to get to the end of the race: A dislodged radiator, extensive damage to the side, damaged splitter and a front tyre rubbing against broken bodywork.
An epic comeback saw the team storm up through the field to 6th at the driver changeover. With the race interrupted by numerous ‘slow zones’ – virtual safety car periods where the cars must all maintain 80kph while the track is cleared – Lok and Bradley kept clear heads to keep the WIN Motorsport Ligier in the chase.
William Lok was pleased with the teams performance: “WIN Motorsport worked really hard and gave us a great car. It’s not easy for a new team to have just its second race weekend at such a high-profile event on the world stage. The results are very encouraging, and our pace has improved over the week even despite the aero issues caused by the damage in Race 2.”
“I’m proud to have carried the Hong Kong flag across the finish line twice at Le Mans this week, and to have made Hong Kong motorsport history with a top 10 finish in Road to Le Mans. WIN Motorsport was only established a few short months ago and we have already taken two victories in Asia. Now we have proved our strength amongst a field of the best international LMP3 teams on the planet from right across Europe and the USA, and shown the Hong Kong ‘can do’ spirit to the world.”
Having made its mark at La Sarthe, WIN Motorsport returns to Asia to continue its Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup campaign, with Rounds 3 and 4 at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit from July 21 to 23.