Hot on the heels of its raft of driver announcements for the forthcoming WEC campaign, OAK Racing has unveiled former F1 aspirant Ho-Pin Tung as the leader of its Asian Le Mans Series squad.
The team capitalised on the series' own launch in Hong Kong to announce the Chinese ace as the first driver of its #24 Morgan LMP2 contender. Tung's extensive single-seater CV includes reserve driver roles with the Williams, Renault and Lotus F1 teams, as well as titles in Formula BMW Asia and German F3. This season, however, will be his first experience of driving a sports prototype.
The 30-year old has been China's most high-profile and successful racing driver during the last decade and is looking forward to a strong reception from his home crowd in the opening three rounds at Zhuhai, Shanghai and Ordos.
“Being a Chinese driver, I am very proud to have the opportunity to defend my country's colours in this new series in Asia that has been instigated by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest,” Tung said, “Competing in the Asia pendant of the prestigious Le Mans Series thrills me. This should contribute a great deal to the development of endurance racing in Asia.
“For my debut in this new series, I am very pleased to be working with OAK Racing, a French team that has enjoyed much success in LMP2 and one that is willing to implement a sustainable base in Asia. The Morgan LMP2 has already demonstrated its performance in several other series, including the FIA World Endurance Championship, so the conditions appear ripe to achieve great things together.”
The Asian Le Mans Series takes in four countries across Asia, and features six three-hour events similar to those of its European Le Mans Series counterpart. Like the ELMS, LMP2 has been designated as the premier prototype category, allowing OAK Racing to fight for overall race victories and the championship with its traditional pink-and-black liveried car.
“We are delighted to welcome Ho-Pin Tung to OAK Racing for the Asian Le Mans Series,” team president Jacques Nicolet commented, “We could hardly have imagined a better leader for the car at the start of what we hope will be a fruitful collaboration between the team and such a talented driver. He should play a significant role in the team's future in Asia.”
Team principal Sébastien Philippe picked out Tung's experience of the majority of the venues on the calendar as a particular bonus for the French team.
“We have worked hard to be ready for this championship, so to be joined by China's most recognisable and competitive racing driver in the first year of our commitment is a form of recognition that will only increase our motivation to succeed,” he noted.
The 2013 Asian Le Mans Series kicks off at Zhuhai on 5 May.