Apart from the infamous Merdeka Milennium Endurance, Sepang had created a race for anyone who wanted to had a taste of the endurance race in Sepang with a little less mileage and distance which is the Sepang’s baby endurance race of 1000 kilometres or S1k for short. Although to the endurance veterans, 1000 kilometres doesn’t seem like much but in terms of distance, it is equivalent to a drive up to Thailand’s Chiang Mai through the challenging B roads giving you the ever so awesome twisty bends and dips.
Not too mention all the scenic routes, the stops at beautiful hotels, delicious Thailand cuisine and the massages from them beauties and back to Kuala Lumpur. Ok, that is going slightly off topic but this 1000 kilometre range in Sepang Circuit is a test of endurance, both for the car and the driver on whoever first to get that 1000 kilometre marque, gets the podium.
The day starts off with the grid formation where the favourable team like the Proton R3 with their Preve and Satria Neo placed at fourth and fifth placing while the two Honda Racing Teams placed first and second while third is from Tedco Racing with their Satria Neo. As the heat turns up on the cloudy day, Djan Ley leads the pack in his Preve throughout the first hour.
Tedco Racing team had constantly tailing him with a little play against the two Honda Racing Team’s Honda Jazz with loads of the other contenders in their Satria Neos and Suzuki Swifts hot on their trail. It is a race of the hatchbacks mostly but you do get to see some of the sedans such as the Proton Gen2, Mazda3, Honda City and Toyota Altis amongst the preffered weapon of choice in this year’s race.
As the leading car heads for their driver change after the first hour, the Preve had a mishaps that made them loose their position and later out of the race after clearing lap 24. Making way for car number 27 from Honda Racing Team to lead the way from then on.
As the day approaches with 78 laps to go, car number 19,27 and 21 have been swapping positions over the laps for the top three of the hour with their driver change and pit stops. Car number 19 from Tedco Racing, car number 27 from Honda Malaysia Racing Team and car number 21 from Type R Racing team has been going out fiercely with a close battle between themselves until the gap widens at 36 seconds gap between car 19 and 27 while car 21 is closing in at 1 lap gap. After 130 laps, the race has reach its sixth hour with 51 laps more to go.
First to hit the 100-lap mark in 4 hours 38 minutes, the partnership of Fitra Eri and Mark Darwin traded leadership with HMRT and Type R Racing; but as the race entered its final stages, it was the partnership of Eddie, the overall MMER champion in 2004 and a four-time class winner in 12-hour race and Aaron, a former Malaysia’s A1GP World Cup of Motorsports driver, was holding firm at the leadership of the race.
The dynamic duo finally completed the 181-lap contest in 8 hours 24 minutes 41.686 seconds; finishing 11.985 seconds ahead of Fitra Eri and Darwin and 22 seconds ahead Type R Racing Team, which took third place. The second Tedco Racing car with Khoo, Haryanto and Chandra had to be contended with fourth position; completing the race in 8 hours 25 minutes 50.950 seconds. Champions in 2009 and 2011, and third overall last year, it was actually a sensational recovery by Type R Racing Team.
The team was forced to start from the back of the grid after failing to register a qualifying time to secure their place on the grid. Their Toyota Altis had a broken wheel bearing hub during qualifying and the team were forced to work all night to overcome the problem.
Representing Red Bull Rookies Racing, the sole all-ladies team of Siti Shahkirah Shaharul and Brunei’s Siti Zirwatul Irdah Awang Adnin finished 11th placing in their Satria Neo.
Flagged off by Motorsport Association of Malaysia Chairman, Tan Sri Azman Yahya, the fifth edition of S1K attracted 27 entries including drivers from as far as Colombia and Japan.
words: Jeo pix: Hazwan Najims