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for Bathurst 24 Hour prep

Malaysian ex-Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong is scheduled to visit Bathurst in western New South Wales tomorrow for his first inspection of the Mount Panorama circuit, where he will contest the Bathurst 24-Hour race in November.

Yoong has been entered to drive a BMW 3 Series Super Touring car with Australians Luke Searle, Geoff Full and Alan Gurr in the 21-23 November race.

He will arrive from his home in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow morning and drive straight to Bathurst to meet his teammates from the Newcastle-based SAE Racing team.

Following a team launch and some sponsors events during the week, Yoong will test the SAE BMW race car at Queensland Raceway the next Monday on the 28th of July 2003.

The Bathurst 24-Hour already has attracted around 30 entries, with a starting grid limited to 55 cars. SAE Racing is among the first entrants to confirm its car and all drivers.

Yoong, who turned 27 yesterday, drove in the Minardi Formula 1 team beside Australian Mark Webber last year.

This season, he has raced for Dale Coyne Racing in 4 races of the Champ Car World Series organised by C.A.R.T. and tested with an Australian V8 Supercar team, but says he is looking forward to his first crack at the Mountain in the PROCAR Australia-organised event.

“I have always wanted to race at Bathurst since I was a little boy and I believe it is one of the greatest circuits in the world. So when the chance came up to race there I was immediately interested,” he said.

“When weighing up our options SAE seemed to be approaching the race with a professional attitude and BMW is always a good bet for an endurance event. I know we are not going to be the race favourites, but I think we may well surprise a few people.”

Geoff Full, a veteran of more than 15 Bathurst enduros, endorsed Yoong’s estimation of the SAE team’s 2.0 litre BMW.

“It’s a great little little car. Before being brought to Australia for Luke to race, it was built for long distance races in Europe and it should have no trouble running all day and night at Bathurst,” he said.

“It’s sweet and easy to drive and the engine won’t be at all stressed.

“I’ve heard great things about Alex’s driving skills and personal character from people I respect and I’m really looking forward to driving with him, Luke and Alan.”



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