P.1 Bulletin, a publication of Sepang International Circuit
By Cheryl Tay
The name Mok Weng Sun is not unfamiliar in the motor racing community. This year, the 43-year-old private equity fund manager had a fantastic season – he won the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) Class B for the second time and also won the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) championship for the third consecutive year. If you are still unconvinced, Mok was part of the trio that won the overall champion of the 2008 Merdeka Millenium Endurance (MME) race in Class O.
Now, there’s a little confusion about Mok’s nationality – he holds a Malaysian citizenship but was actually born, raised and educated in Singapore except for his university education that was done in the States. On top of that, his entire working life is based in Singapore where he has lived more than four decades of his life. He attained his driving licence in Singapore and his racing licence is issued by the Singapore Motor Sports Association (SMSA), hence he races with the Singapore flag. Representing Singapore-registered team PCS (Porsche Club Singapore) Racing, Mok’s racing suit and car typically displays both Singapore and Malaysia flags, as a symbol of respect for his heritage and citizenship.
To conclude, Mok is essentially Malaysian but actually Singaporean-born and races for a Singaporean team. I caught up with Mok amid his busy work schedule for a post-season chat:
P.1: How many times have you participated in the MSS?
Mok: I’ve raced in three seasons of the MSS so far â€“ the Supercar category in 2008 and 2009, and the Malaysian GT category this year. I won the championship three years in a row.
P.1: You took complete dominance in the three (of four) MSS rounds that you raced in, never failing to finish fastest in practice, first in qualifying and first in both races each weekend. What are your secrets to success?
Mok: I think the small grid in the Malaysian GT category this year had a lot to do with it, plus the fact that I was driving one out of only two GT3 class race cars that participated in the series this year. The GT3 class cars clearly had a leg up on the other entrants in terms of outright performance.
P.1: What were your expectations for MSS? Were you aiming to win it?
Mok: I knew I was going to miss one race weekend due my schedule and hence would miss out on points for two races. As a result I didn’t race with the overall championship in mind, although I was confident that I would be competitive in the rounds that I would be racing in. In fact, I didn’t realise that I was leading the championship until just before the final round – it was a pleasant surprise!
P.1: Tell me more about the car you raced with in MSS.
Mok: For the first two rounds, I raced a 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup S that I used in the GT3 Asia series, and also for the Macau GT Cup races the last two years. It is a car that was purpose-built by Porsche for customer teams to race in GT3 class race series around the world. The car has been absolutely brilliant and very reliable over two full race seasons – it has an extremely high winning rate with absolutely no race retirements or accidents. But the car is now retired and will be put up for sale. Then for the last MSS round in November, I used it to do a shakedown test of a new 2011 Porsche 911 GT3R race car that the team has recently taken delivery of. It was the first time I’ve driven the car and performance-wise, it fell a bit short of our expectations as the team is still learning how to run the car (which is technically very complex). We’ve got quite a bit more development work we need to do set-up wise, as we intend to use this car for endurance races next year including the MME.
P.1: How did you fare for the other race series you competed in this year?
Mok: 2010 has been a dream year for me – the results I achieved were much better than I imagined. In the PCCA, I won Class B (against 16 other non-pro drivers) with four pole positions and 10 consecutive race wins in class. I finished fifth in the overall championship despite missing the final two races at Zhuhai. Earlier in the season, I even managed to step on the main podium once with a third place finish overall in Zhuhai (a first for a non-pro driver in PCCA history). In a two-race weekend of GT3 Asia, I had two pole positions and four race wins. Then for the Macau GT Cup race, I finished sixth against a strong field of 36 cars. The only disappointment this year was having to retire from MME with mechanical issues despite having led the race from pole position for several hours.
P.1: What are your plans for next year?
Mok: I will be doing the full GT3 Asia season in a new 2011 Ferrari 458 GT3 racer that will be delivered in February 2011. For this, I will try my best to try to win the championship. I will be doing some PCCA races in a 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, and Craig Baird my teammate from last year will likely fill in the race weekends that I’ll miss. I’ll also be returning to do MME in a 2011 Porsche GT3 R, but I may not be able to do mount a defense of my MSS title next year as I will be missing three out of the five rounds (according to the provisional calendar). But I definitely will try to make it for as many rounds as I can as I would like to continue supporting this series and adding to the grid size.
Mok’s Affinity with Sepang International Circuit
The Sepang International Circuit holds a special place in Mok’s heart as the first race of his was held at Sepang, at the 2006 MME. That wasn’t the first time he drove on the Sepang track though; he first tried it in 2002 during a typical track day session. Mok shares his insights and tips on how to drive well at Sepang:
P.1: When was the first time you drove at Sepang?
Mok: I remember my first drive at Sepang vividly as I crashed my car at Turn 4. That experience was quite an eye-opener as well as an ego check for me. It made me realise I needed to learn how to drive properly on a circuit and then it precipitated a slate of advanced driving courses which eventually led me into racing.
P.1: What do you like of the Sepang track?
Mok: It is challenging, fast, technical and most importantly safe! The track is also well managed and the people there are always friendly and helpful. I call it my home circuit as I drive there more often than on any other circuit in the region.
P.1: You must be very familiar with the Sepang track by now. What are some tips or advice you can give to those who wants to better their times at Sepang?
Mok: Nothing beats seat time for those who have already developed advanced circuit driving skills. I would suggest dividing the lap up into multiple sections and to focus first on identifying and improving those sectors where you may be losing big chunks of time to other drivers in similar cars. Once the big chunks of time have been recovered, shift the focus to improving threshold braking, trail braking, mid-corner minimum speeds and corner exits at every turn of the track. Fractions of seconds that are gained going in and coming out of each turn through finesse can accumulate to a very significant improvement in overall lap times. Sepang has three long straights (Turn 3 is basically a straight), and marginally better exits out of the preceding corner can translate into 0.3 to 0.5 second by the end of the straight – this adds up to more than one second per lap. For the average driver, it’s a lot easier (and safer too) to gain time focusing on getting good exits out of slow corners with proper techniques.