Dubai Autodrome, Dubai
11-13 January, 2018
Shaun Thong will open start 2018 motorsport season with a Hong Kong celebration, the 22-year old joining four fellow local racing stars in what the media is calling the ‘Dream Team’, the five icons campaigning a Tarmac Works/Adidas Motorsport-supported Audi R8 GT4 in the Dubai 24-Hour endurance event in early January (11-13).
Under the banner of Phoenix Racing – the team with whom Thong has claimed multiple wins in recent seasons in a GT3 Audi R8 – Thong will join his mentor and Asian GT team-mate Marchy Lee, motorsport pioneer Charles Kwan, and established Hong Kong GT stars Darryl O’Young and Adderly Fong in arguably the most experienced and successful driver lineup in the history of Hong Kong motorsport.
“Having been a race fan all my life, and having grown up watching the final stages of Charles’ career and Marchy in his prime, it’s a real honour to be joining them and I’m really excited to be representing Hong Kong in Dubai,” Thong admitted.
“The new R8 GT4 promises to be an exciting car, and my 2017 Phoenix Racing Asia team-mate Alex Yoong – who drove the car in the Nurburgring 24-Hour race – was very impressed by the car’s performance on it’s racing debut. With team-mates like Adderly Fong – a former Audi R8 LMS Cup champion – and Darryl O’Young – who like Charles is a multiple winner on the streets of Macau and a former GT Asia champion, we have a very strong driver lineup.”
Having claimed the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia Silver Cup trophy to add to his Pro-Am Cup title from GT Asia the season prior, Thong is widely regarded as one of the Asian regions brightest young stars, but despite being up against some of the most successful drivers to have ever come from Hong Kong, he’s not too phased about the coming challenge.
“Endurance racing is very different to sprint racing like Blancpain or the one-make Audi R8 LMS Cup I competed in last season – it’s very much a team sport with a measured approach,” the veteran of two Nurburgring 24-hour starts explained.
“I will have my job to do, as will Charles, Marchy, Darryl and Adderly, however I come into Dubai with a whole lot more experience under my belt, so I feel a lot better prepared this time than perhaps I was during my first Nurburgring experience in 2015 (that team finished an impressive 12th outright from over 150 entries..!)
“With the emergence of GT4 this year, our focus is on victory,” Thong admitted matter-of-factly. “There are a lot of new cars to this exciting new category – Audi included – and some serious driver lineups, but we are going there looking for the win, it’s as simple as that!”
Whilst Thong will make his first appearance in the twice-around-the-clock Dubai event, his entry does come at the expense of his 2017-2018 Asian Le Mans Series program, an event where the Hong Kong local has excelled this season.
“I’m very happy with my performance behind the wheel of the Taiwan Beer GH Motorsport Ligier LMP3, however I’m going to have to sit out the next event in Thailand due to the date clash with Dubai, but I wish Hanss [Lin] and the whole team the best of luck in carrying on our solid start to the season.”
Thong and his team-mates will have little time to celebrate the calendar New Year, with pre-event testing at Dubai scheduled for Wednesday 10th January, ahead of a long day of practice and qualifying the following day, before the ‘main event’ gets underway at 2:00pm local time on Friday, 12th January.