When the Audi R8 LMS Cup heads to the Korea International Circuit on July 15-16, Kyong-Ouk You is promising great things at his home event: “The most important thing that you have to do in Mokpo is to see me go up on the podium,” he says, tongue very much in cheek. “In fact, I haven’t been on the podium yet this season so if other drivers or guests come to Mokpo, I really want to show you that I can get on the podium and you have to be there to see it.”
The Team Audi Korea driver is contesting his fifth season in the Cup, and the series – combined with his vivacious and mischievous personality – have made him a household name in his native country. “The Audi R8 LMS Cup is the most important element in my life,” he says. “My participation in the Cup makes all other Korean drivers envious of me, and many race organizers want to benchmark their series against the Audi R8 LMS Cup.”
KO credits the Cup with his burgeoning second career as a TV personality: “I’m on two TV shows these days. The first is a documentary TV show, and through this people began to recognize me more. The second is called “The Bunker”, a TV show that everyone who likes cars knows me for.”
While the Cup has given KO a successful career both on and off the track, he would like to see more young Koreans follow in his footsteps. Although a relative newcomer to the sport, Korea has hosted its own round of the Formula One world championship, at the same circuit on which the Cup will race. However, like many nations, it still lacks a strong driver development programme: “I don’t know if you believe me, but I am the most famous racing driver in Korea. There is no second-most famous driver at all!” he jokes, although he clearly loves his sport and would be glad of some company as the poster boy for motor racing.
The 5.62km Korea International Circuit, located in Yeongam, 400km south of the capital Seoul, was completed in 2010 and hosted four F1 Grands Prix. The track was designed by the world-renowned circuit specialist Hermann Tilke, and incorporates local elements such as the roof of the main grandstand which resembles the eaves of traditional Korean ‘hanok’ houses. This season, the Audi R8 LMS Cup visits the circuit for the fourth consecutive time, having made its debut there in 2014.
“The circuit has 18 corners,” says KO. “There are blind corners and very visible ones. I think the most interesting section is long back straight after the second corner because all the drivers will use push-to-pass to overtake there. That will be the most dynamic part of the race!”