Phoenix Racing Asia comes into the second round of the 2017 TCR Asia Series full of confidence and with a third car in the stable, and some important pre-event testing under their belts, the successful GT3 operation are looking to apply pressure to the championship points leaders as they compete on what is effectively their ‘home’ circuit.
17-year old Jasper Thong will again campaign the #5 Audi Hong Kong entry, with SK Tong steering the #8 car, but a lot of pre-event interest has been around the name of the driver of the stunning grey and gold #6 Audi Hong Kong RS3 LMS TCR… Actor, singer and former Olympic swimmer Alex Fong [Lik Sun].
Fong is well remembered as a sportsman, most particularly as a record breaking swimmer representing his home country at an international level setting a string of Hong Kong records at the 2000 Sydney Olympics - some of which still stand today. These days however he is also recognized as a film star and a singer with a loyal legion of fans, all of whom will be watching eagerly as he transitions across to TCR this weekend.
“I’m thrilled to be involved in this weekend’s race and to be able to drive for Audi Hong Kong,” Fong admitted. “I have to thank Marchy [Lee] for helping to put this together, we’ve been friends for a very long time. It has been a while though since my last event - the Macau GP in 2015 where I was fortunate enough to win a celebrity race - and I really got a taste for motorsport so it’s great to have this opportunity.
“This weekend is very different because the car is very different, a lot faster, and a lot more challenging, but my goal for the weekend is to finish every session and learn as much as I can. It’s funny, the first year I got into the entertainment business, my music producer drove an Audi RS4 and I thought it was fantastic, so it makes me very happy to be behind the wheel of an Audi RS3 LMS this weekend, it’s a bit like a dream coming true!”
For experienced Audi Hong Kong campaigner and the man responsible for running the team for Thong and Fong this weekend, Marchy Lee is full of confidence that the motorsport ‘rookie’ will quickly come to terms with his new Audi RS3 LMS TCR.
“People who have competed at the highest level understand the commitment it takes to be successful, so I’d expect that Alex will both understand what’s coming this weekend, and also be prepared to listen to his ‘coaches’,” Lee explained. “Having been at the top of his profession, I am sure he will adapt very quickly.”
For TCR Cup points leader Jasper Thong, he will be looking to cement his position in the points standing, but also look to work his way onto the podium after a solid debut in Malaysia.
“The RS3 LMS TCR was a vastly different car to what I’d experienced before, so there were some big lessons to be learnt in Malaysia, and since then I’ve had time to process a lot of that information, so I’m pretty confident we’ll be right in the mix this weekend at a circuit I know very well.
“I have to thank Marchy [Lee] and the engineers for the efforts they’ve put in ahead of this weekend to make the car so fast, it really gives me confidence now to be able to push and that showed through testing where I was the quickest car ahead of the official leg of the weekend, so I’m very happy.”
SK Tong will be looking to improve on his performance at Sepang where Phoenix Racing Asia debuted the first of the RS3 LMS TCR cars in Asia, Tong and Thong both on a steep learning curve at the Malaysian event, but with some pre-Zhuhai development miles under their belts, they will both be looking to progress up the field in the first Chinese event of the season.
The second round of the 2017 TCR Asia Series will officially get underway at Zhuhai International Circuit on Saturday April 22 with two 30-minute parctice sessions, ahead of qualifying, and two 14-lap races on Sunday to complete rounds three and four of the championship.