The strongest Hong Kong line-up ever: Dream team out for glory at 24 Hours of Dubai

Local racing legend Charles Kwan is coming out of retirement to join an all-star line-up for the Dubai race next month

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 6:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 10:43pm

Local racing legend Charles Kwan Siu-cheung has been coaxed out of retirement to join an all-star Hong Kong cast for next month’s 24 Hours of Dubai with one goal in mind: victory.

It’s the strongest Hong Kong line-up ever assembled as the 54-year-old opens a whole new chapter in local motorsport history that will see three generations of the city’s most successful racing drivers competing together in the all-new Audi R8 LMS GT4 car for the Dubai race from January 12 to 13.

Kwan joins established Hong Kong racing stars Marchy Lee Ying-kin, 41, Darryl O’Young, 37, Adderly Fong Cheun-yue, 27 and up-and-coming 22-year-old Shaun Thong in the Hong Kong “dream team” that will be representing the colours of Phoenix Racing Asia team for the race at the 5.39km Dubai Autodromo.

Kwan made a name for himself during the 1990s and early 2000s and will be forever remembered for his exploits at the Macau Grand Prix in 1993 when he won three races on the same weekend. He won the Macau Cup Race in a Group A BMW M3, the Supercar Race with a Porsche 911 Turbo and the Guia Race in a DTM BMW M3, an achievement that has not been matched by any other racing driver in the world to date.

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Kwan last competed in 2005 in the Zhuhai endurance six-hour race, where he finished fourth and the former BMW works driver admitted that he has been bitten by the racing bug again and was raring to compete in Dubai.

“I always liked to drive,” said Kwan, who was coaxed by Lee to come out of retirement. “On the circuit, I still liked pushing the car to the limits and competing in the endurance race with five drivers, it’s not going to be too hard for me. For every [driving] stint I have to drive for about an hour and 15 minutes. The minimum I have to drive is about four hours so it’s not too hard.

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“I went to Zhuhai yesterday and tested another GT3 car. I went for half an hour and the time was very consistent although it wasn’t that fast.

“I don’t think I’ll be as fast as my teammates. They are still competing and I haven’t been racing for such a long time. I hope I can bring myself up to speed in a consistent way and maintain the car. It’s a 24 hour race so we need to keep the car in one piece without any crashes or damages,” added Kwan.

Fong said having Kwan on the team will be a whole new experience for the five members and that they will be able to learn from one another.

“It’s a privilege as a driver [to have Kwan on the team]. I watched more Marchy [Lee] and Darryl [O’Young] growing up. But Charles has always been the person that my father used to speak of and that left a big impression. Leading up to the event, it will be an interesting for Charles to shed light on his racing experience and for us to be able to tell him about the new technology the current racing cars have.

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Fong added: “It’s a golden line-up. We are in it to win it. We have a good chance. We have one of the strongest teams for 24 hours endurance racing. The footwork is all there and it gives us the best chance to win but in a 24 hour race it’s hard to tell what can happen externally and internally and let’s hope for the best.”

Lee said the team’s goal was to win the race and that it would be “cool to win for Hong Kong”.

“We have all been friends and we’re very happy that we can drive together as one team. Hong Kong drivers have always achieved good results around the world and it’s a chance of us to show how strong we are,” said Lee.

O’Young was delighted Kwan was able to come out of retirement, something he has been trying to do for a long time.

“Since the day Charles retired more than 10 years ago, I have asked him to drive again every year. Marchy was the one that came out with this concept and put this whole thing together. When I was asked to join the team, I was definitely interested. I guess you can say we’re a Ryder Cup [golf] team.”