It’s fair to say that Weiron Tan has been a regular student of the School of Hard Knocks over the course of his first decade in motorsport, but the 24-year-old Malaysian keeps his focus firmly on the future. Having proved his talent in go karts, single seaters, GTs and Le Mans Prototypes - just missing out on the LMP2 podium at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and taking an historic FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) class victory in Fuji – there is no doubt he has earned his stripes.
When his FIA WEC campaign came to a halt, despite headline-grabbing performances with fellow Malaysians Jazeman Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri – Weiron bounced back from a blow which might easily have sidelined a less resolute driver.
Always on the hunt for exciting Asian driving talent, Audi Sport customer racing Asia keeps a close eye on the region’s brightest motorsport lights. As a result, this season Weiron has joined the Audi Sport family as an official Audi Sport Asia driver. In his role the talented Malaysian with combine professional mentoring of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup drivers, with a campaign alongside fellow Audi Sport Asia driver, Martin Rump in Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia with Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute.
Like many drivers, he was introduced to the sport by his father, but Weiron does not come from a traditional motorsport background.
“[My career] sort of started out of the blue. My dad brought my family and I to a karting track in Shah Alam [Malaysia]. We just had a fun day, a casual Sunday. Immediately when I got in a go kart, I got hooked. I thought, wow, this is what I want to do.
“My dad is a big fan of racing. He never got the chance to do it back in his day. Back in the Shah Alam days, he’d go for track days just for fun. He’s always been a fan of Formula 1. He thought I had potential when he was watching me. He asked, ‘Do you like the sport?’ I said, ‘yes!’ We got a second-hand go kart and it sort of went from there.”
Since those early days, Weiron has excelled in almost every discipline of the sport. However, without unlimited financial resources, it was down to his father to provide moral support and encouragement and up to Weiron himself to hone his race craft.
“My dad is the person I’ve looked up to most and learned the most from,” he says. “He’s never had the experience of racing on circuit, but he knows the basics. The thing I really learned from him is how to manage myself mentally. That’s where he’s really strong.
“In terms of learning the technical details, driving, I learned a lot from the teams I’ve been with. From the people involved. I never had a driver coach per se, it was more working with the engineers, the people surrounding me and learning from there. Honestly, we couldn’t afford to get a driver coach. Racing has always been expensive and we struggled to put ourselves in the sport. We never had anyone to guide us in motor racing. My dad didn’t know what to expect and neither did I. We never had that structure to plan, so we had to learn a lot along the way – trial-and-error and finding support here and there. It was an uphill climb all along, and we had to learn it the hard way.”
Weiron is genuinely excited to have the opportunity to pass on all he has learned so far to the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup drivers this season, and his energy and enthusiasm is infectious.
“The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is a great championship; a fantastic one for a lot of the amateur drivers out there, those who have never driven before or are relatively new to motorsport. This is a great platform for them learn, for them to be involved in.
“Audi provides great facilities, a great atmosphere for the drivers, and mentors such as myself, Martin [Rump] and Franky [Cheng Congfu]. We’re there onsite to support any driver who needs help and we’re always there for them. I feel very privileged and honoured to be a part of this programme. It’s been very successful, and it’s growing.
In the early days of my career I never had the opportunity to have a mentor, but it definitely would have accelerated my career.”
Weiron is also enjoying working with the Cup’s ultra-competitive privateers, all of whom are equally determined to replicate their commercial success on the race track. It is a role which is not new to him, but one he clearly relishes.
“I do a lot of coaching along with my racing. I have a lot of customers from go karts. It’s always been a passion of mine to help others improve and learn and better themselves, so it’s great I’m part of this programme as it coincides with what I love doing as well. Plus, the fact I’ve always been a huge fan of Audi from the start. When this came about, it was a ‘wow’ moment, it made it even more exciting!
“These Cup drivers are amazing,” he says. “They’re really fun to work with and they’re all keen to learn and improve. These are successful businessmen but at the same time very competitive racing drivers. I also learn a lot from them. I admire them. They’ve shown a lot of passion for the sport.”
For Audi Sport customer racing Asia and this talented eternal optimist, this new partnership bears all the hallmarks of success - both on and off the race track.