TAN SCALES THE SUMMIT AT FUJI AS HE CONTINUES TO MAKE HISTORY

TAN SCALES THE SUMMIT AT FUJI AS HE CONTINUES TO MAKE HISTORY

Weiron Tan is tearing up the history books almost as quickly as he is tearing around the racetrack in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year, and he continued that trend last weekend (12-14 October), playing a key role in the first-ever victory for an all-Malaysian crew in an international FIA-sanctioned event with a peerless performance at Fuji Speedway.

Tan arrived at Fuji – an iconic circuit nestled in the foothills of Japan’s majestic Mount Fuji and steeped in motorsport heritage – in determined mood, having come within a whisker of triumphing in the previous FIA WEC outing at Silverstone two months earlier. The highly-rated Malaysian Chinese racer wasted no time at all in getting up-to-speed behind the wheel of Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport’s Gibson-powered ORECA 07 prototype in free practice, immediately lapping on the same pace as more experienced team-mates Jazeman Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri.

Showcasing no shortage of commitment, 23-year-old Tan shaved a full second off the trio’s best FP1 time in FP2 to go third-fastest as he gained in confidence, before Jaafar and Jeffri teamed up in qualifying to put the 600bhp #Fortunecat37 entry a strong second on the grid in the fiercely-disputed, high-calibre LMP2 category ahead of the following day’s 6 Hours of Fuji. Characteristically challenging – and changeable – conditions greeted competitors for the start of the race, but the rain and damp track surface could not deter Jaafar, who was into the LMP2 class lead by lap four. Debris on the main straight subsequently brought out the safety car later in the opening hour, and with the action temporarily neutralised, a pit-stop to switch from intermediate tyres to slicks would prove to be a tactical masterstroke.

As the circuit increasingly dried, Jaafar, Jeffri and Tan went on a charge. Consistently extending their advantage, even an ill-timed Full Course Yellow in the closing stages was unable to dent their dominance, and they ultimately took the chequered flag just under half-a-minute clear of the sister #Mighty38 car in front of the 52,800 appreciative and enthusiastic spectators thronging the Fuji grandstands.

 

The success has vaulted them to within a single point of the LMP2 championship lead in endurance racing’s premier global series, heading next to the fifth round of the 2018/19 FIA WEC ‘Super Season’, China’s 6 Hours of Shanghai on 16-18 November – Jackie Chan DC Racing’s home event.

I’m a bit speechless,” confessed former Caterham F1 Academy member Tan, who is only four races into his maiden campaign at the pinnacle of international sportscar competition. “We made history simply by taking part this season – and now we’ve made history again by winning. I genuinely couldn’t be any prouder right now.

The last hour was nigh-on unbearable in the pit garage. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so nervous – I almost couldn’t bring myself to watch. We were all so hungry to get the win – particularly after coming so close at Silverstone. I think I speak on behalf of the whole team when I say it was a hugely emotional moment when Jazeman took the chequered flag. It was an awesome achievement, and I was over-the-moon that my family was able to be there, too, to witness it all and celebrate with me.

As ever, I owe a huge thanks to both Jackie Chan DC Racing and Sepang International Circuit for their incredible support – this has been a tireless team effort from day one, with everybody working their absolute socks off to develop the package and our potential.

The race itself was virtually flawless for us, and a lot of fun. Jazeman and Nabil both did a great job, and I was really pleased with my own stint as well. None of us made any mistakes, and that was complemented by excellent pit-stops and a good strategy by the team.

We could see the track was drying, but it was tricky to know exactly when the right time would be to change over to slicks. We had to adapt our initial ‘run plan’ somewhat, but Jazeman and the engineers made the perfect call and that put us firmly in control.

To come away with another one-two finish for Jackie Chan DC Racing is phenomenal and leaves us in a really strong position now championship-wise – with the momentum on our side. Standing on the top step of the podium was just the most amazing feeling – and going forward, that’s all the motivation we need.”

TAN READY TO TAKE ON ‘BIGGEST CHALLENGE’ FOLLOWING PRODUCTIVE LE MANS TEST DAY

TAN READY TO TAKE ON ‘BIGGEST CHALLENGE’ FOLLOWING PRODUCTIVE LE MANS TEST DAY

Weiron Tan admits he is excited and nervous in equal measure as he prepares to tackle the ‘biggest challenge’ of his fledgling motorsport career later this month, following a positive and productive test day ahead of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.

One of the fastest-rising stars on the international sportscar scene, Tan is competing this year for Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport as part of the first all-Malaysian driver line-up in FIA World Endurance Championship history, alongside team-mates and countrymen Jazemen Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri. Behind the wheel of the team’s 600bhp #Fortunecat37 entry, the trio made an encouraging debut in sportscar racing’s premier global series last month, tallying a solid fourth-place finish in the fiercely-contested LMP2 class at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – the 2018/19 FIA WEC ‘Super Season’ curtain-raiser.

Rapidly getting to grips with their new Gibson-powered ORECA 07 prototype, Tan, Jaafar and Jeffri then headed for France’s revered, 13.626km La Sarthe circuit, which will stage the 86th edition of the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours on 16/17 June. Making the most of the eight hours of official testing available, the crew completed 68 tours to place 11th on the timesheets amongst the 20 high-calibre LMP2 protagonists. After lapping less than a second adrift of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and seven-time grand prix-winner Juan-Pablo Montoya, 23-year-old Malaysian Chinese racer Tan professed himself pleased with initial preparations.

 

The test went well,” affirmed the former Caterham F1 Academy member. “Having done a lot of prior simulation work, I felt like I got to grips with the track quite quickly – but of course, the simulator can never fully replicate reality. The real circuit is way more fun, way scarier and much more exciting! With some 60 cars in the field, it was very difficult to get a clear lap which meant it was almost impossible to accurately judge where everyone was pace-wise, but our objective was to learn and develop a race car for the 24 Hours and in that respect our programme was very productive. With so much information to take in, the test was a positive learning curve for us and we made good progress.”

I must admit, it was incredible to be driving through the streets of Le Mans at over 330km/h. This track has so much history and it really is a privilege to be here, and I’m feeling excited and quite nervous, if I’m honest. It will be the longest race I’ve ever done. I mean, 24 hours – that’s crazy! I’m just looking forward to experiencing it for the first time and the primary target will be to reach the finish, because anything can happen in 24 hours – so that in itself is the biggest challenge already.”

HAWKSWORTH: HIGHS & LOWS OF DETROIT

HAWKSWORTH: HIGHS & LOWS OF DETROIT

The 3GT Racing team came into Detroit riding on a wave of momentum after a historic first victory at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, that victory didn’t come from our side of the garage, but nonetheless it was a great confidence boost for the whole team. The only negative of our strong performance at Mid-Ohio was heading into the Detroit weekend we had been handed a substantial weight penalty, courtesy of IMSA’s Balance of Performance. We knew this would make life a little more difficult for us but nonetheless we knew that certain characteristics of the Detroit circuit would suit our Lexus RC F GT3. We hoped we could challenge for the victory.

Friday practice went very well. The engineering team and mechanics had done a fantastic job with the car and David Heinemeier Hansson and I both felt very comfortable straight out of the box. We spent both practice sessions working through various fuel loads and tires, both fresh and old, to try and get a better understanding of the car in different situations and to help prepare David in the best possible way for the qualifying session. An added bonus was that we set the fastest time of anyone in practice and we were consistently able to run a very strong pace.

Qualifying followed and David did a fantastic job to qualify the car P5, in front of all the other real amateur drivers in the field!

Race day came and the talk around the paddock was whether to take four, two or zero tires when pitting. It was a one-stop race and with the minimum drive time for silver drivers set at the 30-minute mark, it was clear that the pit stop would be a short fuel. This therefore meant that the time spent on pit lane would probably be decided by the driver and tire change. In a one-stop race, and with little passing, this pit exchange would be a golden opportunity to get it right or screw it up! Unfortunately, in the race it wasn’t a problem we had to deal with.

After making a solid start, David got caught out by a snap of oversteer in Turn 5 and hit the wall. That was our day done. These things happen on street circuits, but it was a shame as we were probably the only GTD car with the pace to go forward and make some passes. Ah well, would of, should of, could of, this is racing, and we’ll move on. The results are only part of it and as always, I look forward to the next race, this time at Watkins Glen.

It presents another opportunity to do things better, continue to refine my craft and understand how to extract more lap time and speed from the Lexus RC F GT3. This is what gets me out of bed every morning and keeps me motivated. I look forward to pushing forward with the rest of 3GT team from here on out, hopefully the results follow!

TAN MAKES HISTORY WITH ‘INCREDIBLE’ VICTORY ON ASIAN LE MANS LMP2 DEBUT

TAN MAKES HISTORY WITH ‘INCREDIBLE’ VICTORY ON ASIAN LE MANS LMP2 DEBUT

Weiron Tan made history at Thailand’s Buriram International Circuit yesterday (13 January), as he teamed up with Jazeman Jaafar and Afiq Ikhwan Yazid to speed to the first-ever all-Malaysian victory in the Asian Le Mans Series on his LMP2 class bow.

After steering his burgeoning career from single-seaters to sportscars and spending last year contesting the China GT Championship and Blancpain GT Series Asia, Tan has returned to the fiercely-disputed Asian Le Mans Series for the final two rounds of its 2017/18 campaign, having previously participated one rung down the ladder at LMP3 level. The highly-rated Malaysian Chinese racer – managed by Williams Harfield Sports Group – was recruited by Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport last month to pilot its #7 Nissan-powered ORECA 05 prototype, in an effort officially backed by Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

Jaafar was firmly in the mix for pole position throughout qualifying, ultimately winding up third, a scant tenth-of-a-second adrift of the top spot at the end of an intense and hard-fought 15-minute session – and comfortably clear of the ‘best-of-the-rest’. The next day’s 6 Hours of Buriram was two hours longer than standard Asian Le Mans Series races, and it witnessed a superb duel between the two Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport entries. Tan and his team-mates initially gave chase to the sister #8 car, with little to choose between them – although drama lay in wait.

When Jaafar exited the pit-lane following his first refuelling stop 45 minutes in, he unfortunately clipped a traffic cone that got caught in the ORECA’s bodywork, sending the engine and brake temperatures soaring and obliging an unscheduled extra pit visit to allow the team to remove it.

The tables turned in the fourth hour, however, when the #8 was issued with a drive-through penalty for a pit entry violation, handing the initiative to the #7 crew. It was an advantage they would not relinquish, going on to stretch their lead to almost a minute-and-a-half at the chequered flag, with Jaafar posting the race’s fastest lap for good measure. As debuts go, it was remarkable – and 23-year-old Tan is already eager to climb back into the cockpit on home turf at Sepang in early February.

What an incredible feeling!” enthused the CEFC Manor TRS Racing test and reserve driver and former Caterham F1 Academy member. “To win on our debut in LMP2 with the first-ever full Malaysian line-up is just surreal, and the perfect way to kick off 2018. Hopefully we did our nation proud.

I want to thank Sepang Circuit and DC Racing for giving me this opportunity, my team-mates Jazeman and Afiq for doing an amazing job and the whole team for their hard work and full commitment all weekend.

Our target for Buriram was to bond and discover how best to work together, and that’s exactly what we did. We learned both from each other and from the sister car, which has very experienced drivers including Le Mans 24 Hours winner Thomas Laurent. Afiq and I got up-to-speed quickly even with limited track time, and I was happy with our performance. That said, there is still plenty of room for improvement – so I’m very much looking forward to the next race on home soil!

TAN ON SHORTLIST TO BECOME CHINA’S NEXT PORSCHE JUNIOR PROTÉGÉ

TAN ON SHORTLIST TO BECOME CHINA’S NEXT PORSCHE JUNIOR PROTÉGÉ

Weiron Tan is in contention to become Porsche China’s 2018 ‘Junior’ driver, after being selected as one of just seven finalists for a shootout designed to discover the legendary sportscar manufacturer’s next superstar.

Having steered his burgeoning career from single-seaters to sportscars this year, Tan has impressed with his turn-of-speed behind the wheel of Absolute Racing’s Bentley Continental GT3 in both the China GT Championship and fiercely-disputed Blancpain GT Series Asia. His eye-catching pace and prowess saw him secure pole position for half of the races he contested in the China GT Championship and set fastest lap at Zhuhai International Circuit, which brought him to the attention of Porsche China as it weighs up its options for next year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Asia campaign.

Porsche’s young driver programme is a well-proven talent development model in the high-octane world of motorsport, and over the course of its 20-year existence, ‘Juniors’ from the various different Porsche Carrera Cups have gone on to achieve tremendous success for the brand. Previous alumni Timo Bernhard, Marc Lieb and Earl Bamber, for example, can all now count Le Mans 24 Hours victories on their career CVs as Porsche factory drivers. Out of more than 300 applicants from across Southeast Asia, 22-year-old Tan was shortlisted amongst just seven candidates for the comprehensive evaluation process, which was held at Shanghai International Circuit earlier this month. It comprised a rigorous appraisal of on-track ability in a range of road-going Porsches and the race-bred Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991), as well as physical fitness and media skills.

The road car assessment took place at the newly-built, on-site Porsche Experience Centre (PEC). Asia’s first PEC will only open to the public in January, which meant the seven finalists enjoyed an exclusive early preview of its test-driving course, skidpan, drifting circle and slalom facilities in the manufacturer’s 911 Turbo, 911 Carrera 2S, Macan GTS and 718 Cayman. The objective of the Porsche Junior Programme is to provide aspiring young stars with the guidance and tutelage they need to make the grade as professional racing drivers. As Tan bids to carve a career path to the very pinnacle of international sportscar competition, he is hopeful he has done enough to convince Porsche of his potential.

 

Firstly, I’d like to thank Porsche China for giving me such an amazing opportunity to compete for the chance to become their Junior driver in 2018,” enthused the highly-rated Chinese ace, who is already the official test and reserve driver for FIA World Endurance Championship outfit CEFC Manor TRS Racing and a former member of the Caterham F1 Academy.

The calibre was extremely high and we had a great panel of judges from Porsche to conduct a full and fair assessment over what were three very intensive days. I thought I did a pretty good job, and it was fantastic to finally be in a 911! Until the shootout, I’d never driven a Porsche before, but I’ve always been a fan and the 911 Turbo is undoubtedly one of the best road cars I’ve sampled to-date. We were also very lucky to be the first to try out the awesome new PEC.

The 911 GT3 Cup was a beast in its own right too, quite different from the GT3s I’ve piloted before. The car doesn’t have a lot of downforce, no ABS and no traction control, which means the driver has a major influence over its performance.

The fitness element was intense, and I’m glad my regular training prepared me for that. We were tested to our maximum capabilities in a manner not dissimilar to a standard military exercise, including running, push-ups, chin-ups and core strength. It goes to show how important fitness is in motorsport, because racing drivers need to have a high degree of strength and muscle endurance to withstand the extreme heat and long durations spent in the car.

Such a detailed evaluation underscores Porsche’s outstanding level of professionalism, and just how seriously it regards its Junior Programme. It is no coincidence that the brand has enjoyed more than 60 years of motorsport success all around the globe, and it would be a dream come true to be a part of that incredible story going forward. All I can do now is wait until December when Porsche announces the winner…”

TAN SHOWCASES RAW PACE AGAIN IN CHINA

TAN SHOWCASES RAW PACE AGAIN IN CHINA

Weiron Tan proved that the podium is within reach in the latest outing of the fiercely-disputed China GT Championship at Zhuhai International Circuit last weekend, with an impressive performance around a track that was far from ideally suited to his Bentley Continental GT3.

After finding himself out-of-luck at the same circuit three weeks earlier, Tan returned to Zhuhai eager to continue his eye-catching rate of progress with Absolute Racing in what is his maiden full sportscar campaign.

Picking up from where he had left off, the 22-year-old Chinese ace – working in tandem with Korean team-mate Andrew Kim – snared pole position for both contests amongst the 12 high-calibre GT3 class contenders, meaning the #05 crew have claimed the top spot on the starting grid for half of the rounds in 2017 to-date. With the nature of Zhuhai International Circuit playing more to the strengths of some of Bentley’s rivals, however, Tan and Kim struggled to maintain that same level of pace in the races, battling hard before ultimately finding themselves forced to give best.

A gritty effort nonetheless earned the pair fifth place at the chequered flag in the first encounter and fourth in the next, just a handful of seconds adrift of victory after an hour’s flat-out competition. Notwithstanding the obvious disappointment of having come so close only to miss out by the narrowest of margins, the Williams Harfield Sports Group protégé and erstwhile Caterham F1 Academy member is bullish about his prospects for the remainder of the campaign, beginning in Shanghai on 8-10 September.

I was actually pretty pleased with the weekend, even though we didn’t get the results we deserved,” reflected Tan. “We secured a double pole position to make it three in a row, and with this being my rookie season in GT3, that’s a pretty big achievement for me.

We knew we had the speed, but we also knew that winning in Zhuhai wouldn’t be easy for the Bentley as the circuit just doesn’t suit our car over longer runs – it’s too small, our brakes overheat and the tyres degrade too quickly. We’re good for the first few laps, but after that it’s all about trying to hang on. It was especially tricky towards the end of stints.

Saying all that, I thought I executed the weekend very well.”

TAN’S SCINTILLATING SPEED GOES UNREWARDED IN ZHUHAI

TAN’S SCINTILLATING SPEED GOES UNREWARDED IN ZHUHAI

Weiron Tan showcased his impressive raw pace with a pole position and fastest lap in the latest outing of the fiercely-disputed China GT Championship at Zhuhai International Circuit last weekend (8/9 July), only for misfortune to deny him the kind of result his performance palpably deserved.

Following a productive free practice session, Tan and Absolute Racing team-mate Andrew Kim headed into qualifying in optimistic mood, but the weather then threw an unexpected curve ball. A tyre gamble in the changeable conditions initially looked set to pay off, but ultimately, a timing misjudgment cost the #05 crew and they wound up fourth on the grid amongst the 14 high-calibre GT3 class contenders for race one.

Kim took to the wheel of the Bentley Continental GT3 for the start, but on a damp track surface, contact and a spin dropped the car down the order. Tan took over just as the rain intensified, but distracted by loose seatbelts and running on slick tyres in the treacherous conditions, the 22-year-old lost the rear a handful of laps from the end, precipitating an early bath. A quicker overall lap time than the winner hinted at what might have been.

With lessons learned from the previous day, a superb effort secured Tan and Kim pole position for race two in a Bentley Team Absolute front row lockout, as the duo snared the top spot by a commanding seven tenths-of-a-second. This time, it was the erstwhile Caterham F1 Academy member and Lotus SuperCup Asia GT4 Champion who completed the opening stint, leading all the way to the driver change and setting fastest lap along the way. Unfortunately, fate again intervened, as a short circuit in the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) with two laps remaining restricted Tan and Kim to fourth place at the chequered flag – just over five seconds shy of the podium – and third in the supporting GT Asia Championship for international teams.

Whilst understandably disappointed, the highly-rated Chinese ace – who only steered his burgeoning career from single-seaters to sportscars this year – nonetheless took considerable encouragement from the pair’s form in Zhuhai ahead of the series’ return to the circuit for the fifth and sixth rounds of its 2017 campaign at the end of the month.

 

Overall, it wasn’t the luckiest weekend for us as a team,” he reflected. “I think the Balance of Performance favoured the Audis more than us. Practice represented a solid start and I felt confident going into qualifying, but then the weather started to change. It was pretty damp at the beginning of the first part of the session and we weren’t sure if the drizzle was going to get worse or go away, so I took a gamble and asked to switch to slicks just after my ‘out’ lap on wets.

We were the first to change tyres, and we were P1 for a while until the surface dried up all of a sudden and everyone else went onto slicks – by which point, the sweet spot on our tyres was long gone. The second part of the session was almost the opposite situation, as we started off on wets and went to slicks too late as the track dried towards the end. That meant I only managed to squeeze in one flying lap – had we had another, I was sure I could have put the car on the front row.

Race one was frustrating. Just before Andrew handed over to me, the rain started to get heavier but as it wasn’t forecast to last long, we decided to stay on slicks whilst everyone else went onto wets. It was pretty tricky in those conditions, but what ultimately cost us was that my belts weren’t properly clicked in during the pit-stop. That meant I was moving around in the car, and I consequently lost the rear coming out of Turn 12.

Thankfully, we got the timing right for the next day’s qualifying and we both put together good laps, which earned us pole position. I started the race and we had great pace – as was proved by posting the fastest lap – and I led up to the driver change. I was struggling slightly with the rear going away a bit too quickly towards the end of my stint, but I still thought we had a good chance of grabbing a podium at least. Andrew drove well too, so it was very unfortunate that our ECU had a short circuit with two laps to go.

Absolute Racing did a fantastic job again all weekend, Andrew is consistently improving and we will all work hard to make sure incidents like the seatbelt issue do not reoccur. I am already looking forward to the next round. Hopefully Lady Luck will be a bit kinder to us when we come back here in a few weeks’ time.”