- July 20, 1976
- Blancpain Gt Series Asia
Alex Yoong is a racing driver from Malaysia who was the first ever Malaysian racer to compete in Formula One World Championship. He recorded 18 entries (14 starts) in Formula One in 2001 and 2002, driving for Minardi. After leaving F1, he also tried Champ Car World Series in 2003 and spent three seasons in the A1 Grand Prix Series.
In recent years, he competed with Audi in GT championships and Audi R8 LMS one-make cup, in which he won titles for three years in a row between 2014 and 2016.
Both father and mother were racers
Alexander Charles Yoong Loong was born in July 1976 in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, to mother British expatriate and father a Malaysian of Chinese descent.
Both his father and mother gained some experience in racing or rallying, so the young Alex was significantly influenced by the world of motorsport. He received a Kawasaki 50cc for motocross on his eighth birthday, showing his first racing skills with that motorbike.
Starting a racing career with touring cars
Alex started his racing career in 1992, participating in the next three seasons in touring car races in one-make Proton series or in the SEA Touring Car Championship.
In late 1993, he raced for the first time at the famous Macau Giua Circuit, finishing third in class at Macau Grand Prix in a Toyota Corolla.
Switching to formula racing in 1994
Yoong switched to open-wheel racing in 1994, participating in the Formula Asia Championship. He was a vice-champion in 1995. He then moved to Great Britain in 1996 to compete in the Formula Renault. He was driving for Startline Racing, sponsored by Malaysian tire manufacturer Silverstone.
He spent two seasons in the series, not scoring wins or podiums, then made a step up to the British Formula 3. He joined Portman Racing in two F3 rounds in 1997 and then joined the team on a full-time basis in 1998. In the last three rounds, he joined Alan Docking Racing and stayed with the team in 1999. In two seasons in Formula 3, his best result was the second place at Brands Hatch in 1999.
For the second part of the 1999 season, he joined Monaco Motorsport in the Italian Formula 3000 and International Formula 3000. He scored one podium in Italy while the results in the International series were disappointing as he recorded three DNQs and two DNFs.
Two seasons in Formula Nippon
In 2000, Yoong continued a career in Japan, joining Team LeMans in Formula Nippon to drive the #21 Reynard-Honda. He missed the season-opening race at Suzuka after crashing during qualifying. The rest of the season wasn't much better. In nine races, he scored no points.
He stayed with Team LeMans in the 2001 Formula Nippon season, again scoring no points in the first six races. Despite not so good results, Yoong surprisingly secured a seat in Formula One.
Formula One debut with Minardi at Monza
Backed by Magnum Corporation, Alex Yoong joined the European Minardi F1 Team for the last three races in the 2001 Formula One season, as a replacement for Brazilian Tarso Marques. After a two-day test in an F1 car at Mugello, Yoong received the Super Licence and made his F1 debut in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 16.
Technical problems marked the practice session and qualifying. He was the slowest qualifier, behind his teammate Fernando Alonso. In the race, Yoong retired after 44 laps following his trip into a gravel.
The next race was the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Yoong started the race from the back of the grid (22nd), retiring due to gearbox problems after 38 laps. In the final race of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, he started from the pit lane and finished 16th, three laps behind the race winner Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).
The full season with Minardi in the 2002 Formula 1 season
Minardi retained Yoong for the 2002 Formula One season, signing Mark Webber as his new teammate. Yoong finished seventh in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, missing to score points by one place. It remained his career-best F1 result.
Later in the season, he recorded four DNFs and three DNQs. After failing to qualify for the German Grand Prix, what was his third DNQ, the team suspended Yoong and replaced him by Anthony Davidson for two races. He returned to the team for the last three races of the season.
Four starts in the 2003 Champ Car World Series
Yoong lost a place in Formula One in 2003. However, he found a new challenge in the US, joining Dale Coyne Racing in the Champ Car World Series. He was driving the #11 Lola-Ford in four races.
Yoong made a Champ Car debut at Monterrey Grand Prix in Mexico, finishing in the ninth place and scoring four points. In the next three races, Long Beach, Brands Hatch and Lausitz, he scored no points and then lost a seat due to lack of sponsorship.
Endurance co-driver in the V8 Supercars Championship
In 2003, Yoong made a trip to Australia to participated at Bathurst 24 Hour race with SAE Racing in a BMW 320i. He didn't finish the race. The next year, he made a deal to join WPS Racing as an endurance co-driver in the V8 Supercars Championship.
Prior to that, he competed in three rounds of the Konica Minolta Supercar Series and than made V8 Supercars Championship debut at Sandown 500, sharing the #48 Ford BA Falcon with John McIntyre. They finished 21st. A month later, Yoong and Neil McFadyen finished 15th at Bathurst 1000 in the #48 Ford. His last appearance was at Surfers Paradise Street Circuit.
Three seasons, four wins in the A1 Grand Prix Series
In 2005, Yoong was invited to race for Team Malaysia in the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix Series, sharing a car with Fairuz Fauzy. In the season which lasted from September 2005 to April 2006, Yoong scored a victory in the last round at Shanghai International Circuit. Team Malaysia finished fifth in the points.
In the 2006-2007 A1 Grand Prix season, Yoong participated in all races and scored three wins, two at Automotoodrom Brno and one at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Malaysia finished sixth in the points among 24 nations. In the next A1 Grand Prix season, Yoong was sharing a seat with Fairuz Fauzy. Without wins or podiums, they finished 15th in the points.
Two attemps at Le Mans 24 Hours
While racing in the A1 Grand Prix Series between 2005 and 2008, Alex Yoong made two attempts at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, he joined Racing for Holland to drive the #14 Dome-Judd LMP1 prototype alongside Jan Lammers and Stefan Johansson. They retired after 182 laps.
In June 2007, Yoong returned to Circuit de la Sarthe with Charouz Racing System's #15 Lola-Judd LMP1 prototype. Sharing a car with Jan Charouz and Stefan Mücke, he finished 8th overall and 5th in LMP1 class. He also made two starts with CRS in the Le Mans Series, finishing second at Valencia and fourth at Nurburgring.
Variety of competitions all over the world
After three seasons in the A1 Grand Prix Series, Yoong had no more full-time racing commitments but competed in different championships in followng years. In late 2008, he raced with Qi-Meritus Sahara in two rounds of the GP2 Asia Series. That year, he also recorded a couple of starts in the Speedcar Series.
In 2009, Yoong finished sixth overall at Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race in Fugazzi Racing's Radical SR8. Two years later, he was fifth in that race with Belgian Audi Club's Audi R8 LMS. In 2010, he scored GTC class victory at Zhuhai 1000 with KK Performance Audi R8 LMS.
The most successful driver in the Audi R8 LMS Cup
After few successful races in an Audi R8 LMS, Yoong became the full-time driver of that car in China-based Audi R8 LMS Cup. In his first season in this one-make cup, Yoong won three times in ten races to finish third in the points, behind Marchy Lee and Adderly Fong. Next year, Yoong was a race winner five times and finished second in the points, behind Adderly Fong.
Then, three consecutive championship-winning seasons followed. Yoong was Audi R8 LMS Cup champion in 2014, 2015 and 2016, scoring thirteen victories in those three seasons. His victorious streak ended in 2017 when he finished fourth in the points.
Racing with Audi in different championships
Parallel to his Audi R8 LMS Cup commitments in recent years, Yoong was developing a career as Audi driver in many other competitions, including several participating at 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
He raced in GT Asia, Asian Le Mans Series or Blancpain GT Series Asia. His current championship is the Blancpain GT Series Asia with Phoenix Racing Asia.
Member of a successful water skiing family
Besides being successful in motorsport, Alex Yoong also gained some success in another sport – water skiing. He represented Malaysia in the 1992 Junior World Waterski Championship before focusing on racing career. He returned to water skiing in 2011, participating in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Indonesia and winning two medals. His sisters Aaliyah and Philippa are both water skiers and medal winners.
Photos: Alex Yoong,