AC Motorsport makes its return to the 24H SERIES at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO with a brand-new Hong Kong driver line-up, driver Tommy Ku is confident that the team can still battle for a strong finish in TCR.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
AC Motorsport will make its 24H SERIES return with a brand-new line-up at the upcoming Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, with the Belgian team still eyeing a strong result in TCR at the event according to driver Tommy Ku.
The runners-up in last year’s Overall TCE Teams’ championship last competed at the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, an event that unfortunately ended early after a heavy collision with Buggyra ZM Racing that also put team staple Stéphane Perrin on the shelf with a fractured collarbone. Perrin has already stated his intention of returning to the series this September at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
After a one-round hiatus, AC Motorsport, which is still vying for the TCR Championship of the Continents in 2022, returns to action at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, now with the all-Hong Kong driver line-up of Tommy Ku, David Lau Ying Kit, Shaun Thong and Andy Yan. Championship rivals BBR, which currently leads the standings, and Wolf-Power Racing are also set to compete in Portugal.
Despite the group’s comparative lack of experience racing together in the 24H SERIES, Ku remains confident that the experienced AC Motorsport can still compete at the front of the TCR class.
“We are coming for a win, of course!” Tommy Ku explained to CREVENTIC. “Obviously we joined AC Motorsport for their renowned reputation for being responsible for both their car and driver. We had serval pre-race meetings to address queries. Professional advice was given, and all of our concerns from race assistant duties to tire strategies were all addressed. The team even went beyond our needs: for example, they replaced the car’s transmission to guarantee our success, even though the transmission still has plenty of lifespan left. From all these little details, we know we are in good hands and they have all our trust.
“This will be my first endurance race, so I started training for this months ahead, both physically and mentally. Physically, I had been focusing on different muscle groups that are most essential for racing, such as my core and my back. Vigorous cardio training strengthens my stamina for the long stints. David Lau, who is a psychiatrist, has provided all kind of mental preparation and stress coping exercises. I also think I’ve driven over 300 laps on the simulator. I am really putting my head down for this great learning experience coming up.”
Set to compete for the first time in the 24H SERIES, Ku’s most recent race outing was in TCR Malaysia back in 2020. Lau, Thong and Yan meanwhile all have starts with CREVENTIC to their names, Thong’s being the most recent when he competed in the 992-AM class with ID Racing at this year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI. Barring only the 2021 race, the former Super Taikyu Series class champion and Blancpain GT Series Asia frontrunner has raced at each edition of the 24H SERIES’ season opener since 2018, the first of which, incidentally, he finished 2nd in GT4 with Phoenix Racing. Tellingly, having previously competed in GT4, A6-Pro (KCMG, 2019) and 991 (MRS GT-Racing, 2020), Portimão will mark Thong’s first TCR race with CREVENTIC.
Andy Yan, a former TCR Asia and China Touring Car Champion, has similarly competed several times at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, both with KCMG. In 2019, the Hong Kong team looked set for a podium finish before a heavy accident for the Honda Civic Type-R during the night. Yan has also competed at the TCR SPA 500 in 2019 with Teamwork Huff Motorsport.
Finally, Lau’s sole 24H SERIES outing meanwhile was at the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, at which he finished 15th in the TCR class. Lau also remains confident that previous experience of the 24H SERIES will stand him and his teammates in good stead in Portimão.
“My last race was in 2019, and once I noticed that I could join the [24H SERIES] for Portimão, another world famous F1 circuit, I was very excited and knew I wanted to be a part of this race,” Lau explained to CREVENTIC. “This track offers really a good mix of corners with all kinds of excitement. Personally, I really enjoy turn 14 where you have to slow down with very light braking before accelerating again through on off-camber right-hander.
“I think this series is very well organized, and also very fair. For me, this will be a great challenge for drivers such as myself, and it will be fun for me to come back.”
David likewise will be keen to learn from his experienced teammates at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
“David is a Clio Cup China Champion, and both Shaun and Andy are top notch Silver drivers. So all three of my teammates will be a good role model for me, and will help a lot with strategy, my driving style, and…how do I describe it?... how they keep cool on-track, even with so many different car categories all going at different pace. This is something new to me, so I hope to learn a lot from my teammates.”
As well as Wolf-Power Racing and BBR (the latter of which, significantly, has entered two CUPRAs to strengthen its position at the top of the championship chase), the Lestrup Racing Team continues its return campaign following its first entry in more than two years at Hockenheim. Portimão also marks the return of Viper Niza Racing to an official CREVENTIC event, the Malaysian team having last competed with the Dutch promoter at the TCR SPA 500 in 2019.
Having finished 2nd in-class at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, a podium finish in Portimão for AC Motorsport, currently on 23 points, could propel the Belgian team into the top three in the TCR standings.
*Tommy Ku and David Lau were speaking with Nica Flach