Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race – Drama on the loose

Published on August 10th, 2009

It was freaking cold morning and I didn’t get enough sleep, but it was August 8th, and it was MMER day. The 12 hours Merdeka Milennium Endurance Race was being held in Sepang that very day and I decided to take my scooter there to make our lives a lot easier going around the track.

No, I couldn’t take the bike on track, but the journey towards Sepang was, how to say, very “entertaining”.

After a quick breakfast, I stopped at the Petronas station to resupply. I’d like to emphasize that I reached the Media Center first before my editor who’s supposedly driving a ‘fast’ car.

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MMER started at 11:34:32am with a total of 46 cars racing under the O, A1 and A2 class. Leading the pack for each class respectively was Thunder Asia Racing (Mosler MT900R GT3), Fugazi Racing (Radical SR8) and JC Racing (Honda Integra DC5).

It was a rolling start and some of the teams can be seen spurting out the horses to gain first advantage of the race. Pressure to gain advantage started as the race became tighter after each corner.

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For those who are not in the know, the most important aspect of racing in an endurance race is not just about the cars. Reliability plays the biggest role along with team support, communication, strategy and of course, none of this are in anyway useful without the driver’s stamina and top notch psychology and concentration.

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The first hour showcased Thunder Asia Racing (MT900R) leading the O pack, followed closely by Kencana Racing Team (Porsche 911GT3), LKM Racing (Porsche 911) and Petronas Syntium Team (BMW Z4M). For A1, Fugazi Racing’s Radical SR8 pretty much stayed on the first position for the rest of the race, followed by Empire Motorsports’ Lotus 2-Eleven and team 77’s Aston Martin N24.

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For A2, Type R Garage R Racing grabbed the first position and didn’t let it go for the entire race, followed by Honda Malaysia Racing and G-1 JPM Racing.

At this point, the scooter became the most sought after vehicle as the sun was merciless in Sepang. Trust us, walking to the photo-points outside the track is really challenging.

The race saw its first casualty approaching the third hour as two DC5 from team 32 and Tung Chun Racing had to be retired, team 32 after 4 pitstops.

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The Chairman’s team suffered from mechanical failure and was forced to pit a few times, giving Datuk Mokhzani multiple chances to have cold drinks while waiting. Approaching the 4th hour, Kencana Racing was on the 12th position with no hopes of catching up with the leaders. Their Porsche 911 GT3 retired from the race 3 hours and 45 minutes into the race.

Coming from the A1 side, Empire Motorsports’s Lotus 2-11, just like the one we featured on Trafficmagonline except that it was fully race-prepped, never made it back to the tarmac 4 hours into the race after the car went up in smoke, a pity considering they’re in the second position behind Fugazi Racing.

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The first half of the race already claimed 6 cars, including team 13’s very yellow Marcos LM600. With 6 more hours to go, the pressure at this point became a solid wall of nail-biting anticipation.

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As the sun sets, the battle for supremacy continues towards its 9th hour. Petronas’s Z4M continued to show unchallenged performance as they continued to lead the pack for Class O. Dilango Racing-Sri Lanka’s Porsche 997 GT3 retired from the race, giving opportunity for Team Porsche Club Singapore to claim second position, followed by LKM Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3.

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Fugazi Racing has pretty much secured the podium if their car remained to be reliable. A quick glance down the ladder revealed that team 77’s Aston Martin N24 was following 2 laps behind, quickly followed by team 88’s Aston.

Honda Malaysia Racing has snatched the first position from Type R Garage R Racing earlier in the race and remained there until on the eleventh hour, where it was taken back by the latter.

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While every eyes were watching the possible victory of Petronas Syntium, the screen showed one of the Z4M spun into the gravel area. While the commentator was trying to figure out what happened, the spectators saw the Z4M limping back towards the pit. The incident happened at turn 3, and you’d probably know that there are 15 turns at Sepang International Circuit. M. Yanagida, the driver at that point, managed to recover and drove the car all the way back to the pit, grinding the rear left rim.

We saw the support crew pulled the shredded wheel off the car and installed a new one. With less than 45 minutes to go, Petronas’s Z4M No. 15 returned to the tarmac behind Z4 No 28.

It was later confirmed by a source that one of the Aston Martins nudged Yanagida’s Z4 and sent it to the gravel.

There you have it, the last casualty of the race.

You can pretty much guess by now that Petronas Syntium Team; No 28 (Tatsuya Kataoka, Manabu Orido, Johan Adzmi) and No 15 (Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida and Fariqe Hairuman) had a one-two win, followed by Porsche Club Singapore (Mok Weng Sun, Darryl Hayden O’Young and Craig George Baird). Porsche Club Singapore started on the last spot on the starting grid.

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For the A1 class, Fugazi Racing (Alex Yoong, Wira Dani and Faizal Zelman) took the first position with 284 laps while Type R Garage R Racing (Wong Yew Choong, Soh Kee Koon, Lai Wee Sing) took first position for Class A2 with 279 laps.

17 cars did not finished the race, with a total of only 29 cars reaching the twelfth hour.

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With that, I dumped all the camera equipments into Botak’s car, started the bike and rode it back. Note to self: Don’t ride alone coming back from Sepang especially at 2 in the morning. It’s freaking scary.

text: Syawal Ahmad  pix: Syawal Ahmad, Syafril Ismail & Hazrin Yeob Mein Shah

Comments

  1. Posted by GearTinggi on August 10th, 2009, 08:21

    Hi, nice coverage n pixs!

    Btw, can i use some of the pics to be uploaded in GT.com

    hehe :-)

  2. Posted by Carfreak on August 10th, 2009, 12:56

    Hi guys,excellent job and brilliant pictures

  3. Posted by Keshy ZTH on August 10th, 2009, 17:22

    nice pics guys.. great coverage syawal.. =)

  4. Posted by Traffic Mag on August 11th, 2009, 00:58

    Syawal: Thanks Kesh. We’ll be uploading more to the gallery section. Your coverage is fantastic man. Hahaha

  5. Posted by Mackeran on August 11th, 2009, 16:58

    Thank you! You often write very interesting articles. You improved my mood.

  6. Posted by ah yong on August 13th, 2009, 21:42

    pls add more malaysian modded beauties.

  7. Posted by Traffic Mag on August 18th, 2009, 15:49

    will do yong… will do… we have never forget the essence of TRAFFIC. in time there will be more modded beauties.

Reply

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