Bitter sweet end for PETRONAS Syntium Team at MMER2010

Published on August 9th, 2010

It was a bitter-sweet outing for the PETRONAS Syntium Team after an emotional and grueling Merdeka Millennium Endurance race at Sepang on Saturday.

It was a case of delight after a hard-fought finish by the team’s No. 28 BMW Z4M Coupe at the 2010 edition of the country’s largest motoring event. Despite having the odds that were stacked against the team, the team’s No. 28 BMW Z4M Coupe in the hands of Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida and young Malaysian Imran Zaharias Shaharom was able to overcome the challenges to climb through their midfield qualifying in 12th to eventually bring home a third-place finish.

Meanwhile the team’s trio of Tatsuya Kataoka, Fariqe Hairuman and Melvin Moh in the No. 1 car also overcome the odds throughout much of the race from 13th on the grid to move up to 4th. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem for the team’s other BMW Z4M Coupe in the final hour of the race forced the car into retirement.

David Wong, Team Principal

“Honestly, getting third place for us is like winning the race especially after all the problems we had at this year’s MME. Starting from practice and qualifying, we were faced with various obstacles including matching the tyres to our overall performance strategy. On top of having a much more competitive field this year, this situation made the race very difficult for us. Fortunately, we were able to overcome all these challenges and finish the race. That’s why finishing this race in third feels as good as winning it! Everyone on the team did a truly amazing job, especially to overcome the odds with this result. I would like to thank PETRONAS for their support this weekend and also congratulate the winners Arrows Racing and to the Audi Race Experience Joest Team, racing here for the first time!

“Unfortunately, it was also a result that was bitter sweet for us because of the retirement of the No. 1 car. The mechanical problem it suffered late into the race resulted in a non-finish for the car. Notwithstanding, I am looking forward to our next Super Taikyu race in Okayama, Japan next month!”

BMW Z4M Coupe #28, 3rd Place (308 laps)

Drivers Comments:

Nobuteru Taniguchi (JPN)

“I have to say, this was a tough race for us! We had so many different things work against us this weekend especially on the tyre problems we faced especially in practice and qualifying. This meant that we had to be very cautious going into this race. But, we had luck and had just enough tyres to see us through to the end of the race. Also, before the race if you looked at the level of competition in the GT class, it was difficult to expect a good result. But, the team and my teammates did a fantastic job and the support from PETRONAS was really good! So, I am happy that I managed to get this result!”

Masataka Yanagida (JPN)

Masataka Yanagida (JPN)

“This was a very good result for us and I am happy! We knew that this was an important race for our partners, PETRONAS as this is the home race. Unfortunately, after a difficult qualifying, we were a bit upset as we knew that we had a very slim chance of getting a good result. In the end though, everyone on the team and my teammates did an amazing job and we were able to get this result. Our performance was much better than we expected! So thank you to everyone on the team and to our partners PETRONAS. On the other hand, I am disappointed and sorry for our teammates in the No. 1 car. They too had done a great job and managed to overcome the obstacles in the race. So, for me, this third place is everyone’s result and not just ours. Now, we want to do our best for the next race!”

Imran Zaharias Shaharom (MAS)

Imran Zaharias Shaharom (MAS)

“I am really happy with this result. To me, third place feels like a win especially after all the difficulties that we faced. This result comes as a surprise especially coming from so far down the field. We were very consistent through the race and had a good strategy that worked for us. There were no problems and we were able to take advantage of the situations with the other cars in the race to make our way up. This is a great result also for PETRONAS, as this is our partner’s home race. That we were able to overcome the odds to be on the podium here shows that we never give up. So thank you to the team especially everyone on the crew for a great job!”

BMW Z4M Coupe #1, DNF (on lap 275)

Tatsuya Kataoka (JPN)

“Before the race, we had problems with the tyres for practice, qualifying and race. This meant that we had to make quite a lot of changes on the setup, so that we could get the best out of the car performance. We also knew we had a tough competition from the other competitors. During the race, the crew did a really great job, the strategy was good and the total package was consistent. This allowed us to make up quite a bit of ground in the race. Unfortunately, one hour before the chequered flag, our car suffered a technical problem and we had to retire. Despite this setback, I have to say thank you to the team for a great job, despite all the problems we had.”

Fariqe Hairuman (MAS)

Fariqe Hairuman (MAS)

“Overall, I have to say this was a very tough race weekend for us. We knew we were faced with very stiff competition and had somewhat a disadvantage with regards to the tyres. However, the race itself turned out to be much better than we could have hoped. The strategy worked out really well, the crew did a superb job and everything went better than we could have possibly hoped! Unfortunately, one hour to the end we suffered a technical problem which sadly forced us to retire from the race. But, this is racing and we have to accept and learn from this. For me, now the focus is on our next Super Taikyu race!”

Melvin Moh Chun-Ho (MAS)

Melvin Moh Chun-Ho (MAS)

“For me personally, being at my first MME was quite an experience! I was encouraged by the qualifying and that I was not too far off my teammate Kataoka in terms of our lap times. In the race, we knew that we were on the back-foot because of the tyres. As such, I focused on my driving. In my first stint, I opted to play it safe especially as it was my first night stint. My second stint was better as I felt more confident and in my final stint, everything went well until a technical problem we faced with one hour left. For sure I am disappointed and feel very sorry for my teammates Kataoka and Fariqe, and everyone on the team who worked so hard this weekend. This was a long race and it is a pity that it had to end this way. Looking forward, I hope that we can have a strong race at our next Super Taikyu round in Okayama next month.”

The PETRONAS Syntium Team now head to Japan for the next round of the Super Taikyu Endurance Series at the Okayama International Circuit next month.

words: PETMOS  pix: PETMOS & Syafril Ismail

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