MAM-SIC RallySprint 2009: Sutan’s Journal

Published on October 17th, 2009

MAM-SIC RallySprint Round 3

Driver: Sutan Mustaffa Salihin
Navigator: Noorhafidzi Mohd Latiff
Car prepared by: Yard Speedworks, SP Tech & Nick Motorsports
With support from: RIS Racing & Glopac Motorsports
Result: Winner for Class C3 (1600cc) and 2nd Overall

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MAM-SIC RallySprint Series is a series that have many followers, especially for those who resides in the Klang Valley. With minimal participating cost and challenging ‘Special Stages’, the series has become a must for local rally-fans to either participate or anticipate.

Our team comprises of three workshops; Yard Speedworks, SP Tech and Nick Motorsports, with support from RIS Racing, Glopac Motorsports and SMS Motorsports & Driving. It has been an exciting Round 3 for us.

In fact, winning the third round of the MAM-SIC RallySprint is the best gift our driver, Sutan Mustaffa and navigator Noorhafidzi can ask for. Both of them will be celebrated this 17 and 18 October.

Day 1 – October 10 2009 (Saturday)

It was the moment all of us have been waiting for; a night rally where the challenges is the hardest. Initial recce has been done earlier at 5pm to prepare the pace note as it was vital to have a perfect pace note, especially for night rallying.

There were only 2 ‘Special Stages’ conducted on Saturday night instead of 4 as scheduled due to certain safety issues. We had to go through the 2 ‘Special Stages’ (SS) twice due to the dismissal of the other two SS.

Anxiety was filling the air like bricks, but we could not have prepared ourselves better. My strategy was simple; drive hard and follow the pace notes to the letter.

It looked like my strategy was okay after all; since I managed to conquer the third best spot for the four SS we competed on. On the last SS, we grabbed hold of the third best overall and were leading the 1600cc race.

It was a result all of us were hoping for to be ahead on the second day of gravel fiesta.

Results of day 1

1. Overall: Guna / Mano (1st Class C5 – Proton Putra 4WD 2.0 Turbo)

2. Overall: James / Hafiz (2nd Class C5 – Subaru Impreza WRX 2.0)

3. Overall: Sutan / Hafidzi (1st Class C3 – Proton Satria 1.6)

Day 2 – October 11 2009 (Sunday)

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When I was heading towards SIC on Sunday, I was told by the organizer that James Russell had to withdraw from the race due to mechanical/engine problems. It was quite a happy updates for us, no offense to James Russell, but the pressure automatically became more intense as the drivers’ sitting on the position below us was Ang Meng Yee who was driving a Honda Civic 1.8 VTEC, 1-second difference to our official timing. We seriously thought that the 1.8 VTEC would eat us for lunch.

After several discussions and strategy-planning with the crew, we agreed to throw everything on the table for a ‘maximum attack’ on the second day to put as much distance as possible between the 1.8 VTEC and us.

We began clocking splendid timing on the SS5 with 51 seconds even though I made a small error by going into one of the corners a tad too fast and caused an understeer. I managed to control the car and we managed to get 1 second behind Gunaseelan and 3 seconds ahead of Ang meng Yee at third overall.

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From SS5 all the way to SS8, we gave the best for our team. All the SS prepared by the organizer was enjoyable and truly satisfying by the participants of MAM-SIC RallySpring 2009. As of this minute (it’s our break time), we’re still holding on to the second overall position, 1 min 12 seconds behind Gunaseelan who was driving a Proton Putra 4WD Turbo and 9 seconds ahead of Ang Meng Yee.

Our lunch break ended at 1.45pm and the last four SS will begin at 2pm sharp. As always, drivers’ positions was predetermined earlier.

  1. Gunaseelan (Car No. 1 – Proton Putra 4WD Turbo)
  2. Mohd Rafiq Udhaya (Car No. 2 – Mitsubishi Evo 8)
  3. Tonnie Wong (Car No. 6 – Subaru Impreza WRX)
  4. Sutan Mustaffa (Car No. 7 – Proton Satria 1.6)
  5. Mohd Siraj (Car No. 8 – Proton Satria Neo 1.6)

And so on…

Everything was working according to plans for both SS9 and SS10. Great machine and driving skills had enabled us to clock 51 seconds for SS9 and 1 min 42 seconds for SS10.

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But victory can’t be achieved as easy as pie. At the end of SS11, I was starting to feel there was something wrong with the power transfer. On the tarmac, 1KM before reaching the finishing line, power transfer, which was at 7,500rpm on fourth gear, was declining and I was losing power. I decided to slow the car down a little. My job at that moment was to drive the car pass the finishing line, that’s it. In SS11, we lost 8 seconds due to the power loss and clocked 2 min 4 seconds compared with 1 min 59 seconds on SS7.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, we stopped the car and popped the hood to try to find out what was wrong with the car. The mechanic on site decided to bring back the car to our main service area where it can be inspected by all the mechanics available.

It was a crucial moment as we were sitting comfortably on second overall and was the leader for C3 Class (1,600cc) and we will only need to go through the last SS (SS12) which was only 1.5KM more.

The problems were identified but the pressure began to climb a few levels higher when the car couldn’t start. I began to pray for a miracle and blessing, hoping that my instinct that the engine could be started was true.

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And then, the mechanic decided to push start the car, and it started! We drove to SS12 starting line and received a thunderous applause from the crowd, especially from GSR-Pennzoil who wanted to see us performing our last race for the third round of the MAM-SIC RallySprint.

Lastly, with heart pounding madly, we went through SS12 and managed to finish with style and pride. The shocking part was the time clocked for SS12 was the same when we went through it in SS8, 1 min 18 seconds.

Kudos to MAM for reviving the rally scene in Malaysia. Also to the organizer, Wheel Spin Management and other sponsors who made this sport a special one.

To all the participants, well done for completing the race. For the winners, our heartiest congratulations. For those who didn’t make it, never mind, there’s still next time. For the newbies, learn more rallying skills like steering control, braking, gear changing, skid control, cornering speed and make sure your pace note is perfect!

Thank you, and see you again, on the gravel or in the flesh.

text: Sutan Mustaffa Salihin  pix: Syawal Ahmad, GearTinggi

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