|Salih Yoluc makes his debut in the Asian Le Mans Series this coming Friday as he joins United Autosports to compete in the four-round championship alongside teammates Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne.
Salih got his first taste of the Shanghai International Circuit last weekend when he took part in the rain-hit 6H of Shanghai with TF Sport. In treacherous conditions, Salih was one of many to fall victim to the conditions before making a strong recovery to finish in eighth position and secure four valuable championship points.
Now the Turkish racer turns his attention to the next challenge and that is driving the Ligier LMP2 for the first time.
Q: Salih, it is your first time in this car. It seems to be a fast and challenging circuit in whatever the weather conditions, how do you think you’ll go in the P2?.
“The car is completely different to what I'm used to driving, but I have a feeling that we'll fit each other well. I can't wait to give it a go.”
Q: The FIA World Endurance Championship round last weekend wasn’t kind to you.
"It wasn't kind to us to say the least. It was impossible to see ahead because of the car in front of you is spraying so much water and I happened to downshift in a puddle and it just threw me into the gravel. Honestly, there’s nothing I could have done about it. I have never driven a car in such horrible conditions. The car also lacked pace compared to the newer tech Porsche's and Ferrari's, so after a beautiful Saturday, it was just unlucky to have that amount of rain affect the race.”
Q: You are third in the standings, very much in contention for the WEC title. Expectations are always high given the track record so far this year, how would you summarise the season so far?
"Of course, we are still very much in the hunt with 97 points still up for grabs. A good result in Sebring will throw us back into the top two with much less difference to P1. Le Mans next year will be crucial.
“To summarise the season, we've always had the pace - except that last weekend - to win every single round, but I can't believe how unlucky we’ve been so far. We got really close to winning on three occasions, missing at Spa by just two-tenths, Silverstone we got an unfortunate penalty while leading by quite a margin and at Fuji, we just missed the opportunity to pit under full course yellow by a minute, while the winning car #56 managed to pit and gained 40 seconds on us. They won the race by 25 seconds...
“We have made mistakes as well, such as the one in Le Mans was a pretty unacceptable and which cost us 12 points. Also, the one I made last weekend although it could have happened to anyone but still it shouldn't have happened. But I trust our speed, last year we led all year in ELMS and lost it in the last round. This year we aim to do the exact opposite.”
Q: Have you had a chance to any real preparation for driving the LMP2 car in terms of the additional aero and subsequent grip that you will enjoy?
“I have only done a couple of hours simulator work which I guess can only help me. But I need to get in the car to be properly prepared.”
Q: You know United Autosport well from your tremendous race with them last year at the Gulf 12H. What are your expectations for the first weekend in the Asian Le Mans Series?
“United Autosports is a well-known outfit and successful team which I'm happy to be a part of. I'm sure we will have a good car a good line-up, although Patrick and myself have never been in a P2 car before, so that'll be the challenge we face the first round.
“So, it will be a learning curve in that sense, that's the way I'm looking to this weekend. If we can get some kind of a result out of that, that'd be the icing on the cake!”