On announcing their decision to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Super Season for 2018/19, Prescott Motorsport sat down and spoke with Clearwater Racing’s Team Managing Director Arj Pillay Kulasegarm about that decision and the future for the team from Singapore.
“I’m very glad that Weng made the decision to continue in the World Endurance Championship. It’s a very logical progression from what we’ve done, but you can’t take away that it’s been a huge decision on his part, and it’s a big commitment, both in terms of time and finance, and while it seemed a logical thing to do, getting there was not easy!
I know that a big part of that decision was because he knew that if he could be competitive then it would be worth investing for another 18 months in the Super Season… , and I think his performance during this season has shown Weng has the turn of speed for sure.”
The driver line up will remain the same for the Super Season: Team owner Weng Sun Mok, Japan’s Keita Sawa and Ireland’s Matt Griffin.
“Our drivers will remain the same. In fact we want to keep the entire team the same. Everyone works so well together, it makes no sense to introduce an unknown variable. I think our crew have done such a fabulous job this year, just looking at pits stops, down from 18 seconds to 14.2, that’s how well they work together, that’s how well they’ve gelled, it’s a great testament to them and a lot of hard work they’ve put in as a unit to produce results like that. Yeah, as far as I’m concerned it’s not just the drivers I want to keep the same but everybody involved in this project!”
For the 2017 season, Clearwater have been running a Ferrari 488 GTE with support from AF Corse. That relationship will continue into the Super Season.
“We’re very happy to be able to partner again with AF Corse for the coming season. Our relationship with them is very much hand in hand with Amato [Team Principal] and his guys, they are our technical and logistics partner for this series. As AF Corse have such a grounding in WEC, it would be silly to campaign a Ferrari in the WEC and not use them.
This car will go back to AF Corse and we will be using this year’s No. 51 which our good friends James [Calado] and Alessandro [Pier Guidi] are campaigning and will hopefully win the world championship with… I hope to be able to say we will have a Championship winning car! But nonetheless I think the two of them have done a great job winning three races so far, sublime driving from both guys and a wonderfully engineered car as well.”
We asked Arj his thoughts on the Super Season.
“I think the Super Season is going to be very interesting. 100% of our driving team know 95% of the circuits, that last 5% being Sebring that neither Sawa nor Weng know. But seeing how quickly Sawa has been learning circuits this year I don’t think that is going to be a problem. And we’ve got a whole year to get Weng ready for Sebring with simulator training. I expect us to be very competitive come the start of the season, but I know the competition in GTE Am is going to be very very stiff, and we look forward to it because hey, no one likes a walk over for sure!”
We first spoke to Arj at a very cold Silverstone back in April this year about his aspirations for the newest team in the WEC. They’ve come quite a way since then.
“For something that was put together in February this year, in no stretch of my imagination did I think we’d be fighting for the title come the last race of the season!
We didn’t know 80% of the tracks that we’ve visited this year. I think that’s a testament to how well this team has worked together and how good Matt has been in teaching and imparting his knowledge of the circuits to Weng and Sawa – Matt has done a great job.
I think Sawa has distinguished himself as being one of the best ‘Silvers’ in the field, and quite often being the fastest Silver in this field, which is very much against expectation - I think he’s done a fabulous job.
And you know, Weng, for a person whose grown up driving on Tilke designed F1 circuits, to have acclimatised to places like Spa and Mexico, it’s not as simple as it looks; the race in Austin was very physical and he drove brilliantly there, I know he particularly enjoyed learning Silverstone. I think Weng has done a fantastic job as an Amateur, for a 50 year old guy learning new things… you ‘can’ teach an old dog new tricks, and he’s done really well!
We’ve had the pleasure of running in so many different championships over the years, but I have to say the WEC does live up to it’s name as a World Championship, it’s so well run, it’s a pleasure because it just makes my job a lot easier and I appreciate that.”
Not content with tackling just the Super Season, Clearwater Racing would like to enter a second car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and they also have plans to run a Mclaren GT4 in the Asian Blancpain Series.
“I would like to enter a second car but I don’t think there will be that many entries available for additional cars. As the WEC grid is going to be 34 cars next year, and they have their subsidiary championships like ALMS and ELMS etc to consider, I think there will probably not be space for any more entries. I would love to see Richard Wee come back and tackle Le Mans like he did at his debut this year, but I have a feeling that that may not be possible.
We are also looking to enter the Mclaren GT4 for the owner next year in the Asian Blancpain Series, we just have to spend the off season getting him up to speed and we will probably do a parallel Asian Blancpain/WEC programme as we had planned to do this year anyway.”
That final inevitable question… what are your expectations for this race, the season finale, the BAPCO 6 Hours of Bahrain.
“I’d say that Aston Martin and Paul Dalla Lana have got themselves into a very good position to take this title, they’ve done a great job this year, we will be fighting them hard tooth and nail to the end because it ‘aint over til it’s over’!
I think it will be an interesting fight between us and Dempsey Proton for P2 in the Championship. I think if we can leave this weekend finishing in second place in the World Endurance Championship I will be very very happy, and very proud of this team for all they’ve accomplished.”
Don’t miss the WEC BAPCO 6 Hours of Bahrain, Saturday 18th November, 1600 hours local time.