Every country has it own independence day and for us Malaysians, we call it Hari Merdeka. It also means freedom in many aspects as it has been 57 years that we achieved it gracefully.
And like many other occasions of its magnitude, it is deemed to have a celebration in many ways. Usually, and like many other countries, a show of fireworks and parade is eminent as we wait for the countdown to hit on the eve of 31st of August.
Most folks will go out for a fancy dinner, hang out with their loved ones with all that lovely bits of romance, love and patriotism.
And as for us car enthusiasts, we celebrated the eve of Malaysia’s 57th Merdeka Day with thundering engines, grazing the asphalts of Sepang International Circuit with the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER).
This year marks the 14th year the race has been scorching the tarmacs at SIC with increasing lap times and lap figures over twelve hours of gruelling race in this unpredictable Malaysian weather.
I remembered on the first year of MMER in 2000 where they had achieved 253 laps with the national car maker Proton Eon Racing Team piloted by Jimmy Low, Karamjit Singh and Tommy Lee and over the years, cars that competed with each other had become faster and and potently reliable that those lap figures increases every year.
From 253 laps in 2000 to 325 laps last year made by Clearwater Racing.
Thirty-five cars participated this year with colourful array of super cars in the GT3 and GTC class with Ferrari 458s, Audi R8 LMS, an AMG SLS, a few Porsches 997 Cup car and a Lamborghini Gallardo.
Where as in the Touring Production cars where most of the teams favoured their weapon of choice to be the Honda Civics with a battling mixture of Renault Clio Cup and the new Megane RS 275, a Subaru Impreza, the only other Honda which is the Integra, and the two Toyota GT86s.
Also this year, fans will enjoy a Cobra Daytona Coupe in the invitational class from the Daytona Car Company from Australia with its glorious sounding V8 engine.
The race starts at noon with Clearwater Racing duo leading the pack with CraftBamboo’s Aston Martin racing hard between these two Ferraris all the way, switching positions second and third between Clearwater’s car number 12 while the Audi R8 GT3 car number 28 from MPC getting in the way slotting in between positions in this Italian-British-German battle. up to the third hour.
Up to the fourth hour, two cars had met their end. Wing Hin’s main car number 86 did not finish due to technical failures which leaves the team’s car number 88 to soldier on for glory.
While the other unfortunate car was Absolute Racing’s Audi R8 LMS (car number 101) which was disqualified with only 43 laps in its name.
Currently at this fourth hour it is up in the lead at fourth placing in the Touring production behind R Engineering’s, JC Racing’s and N1 Racing’s Honda Civics.
Half way through the race, the Clearwater Racing duo maintained its one and two position with CraftBamboo’s Aston Martin following in close while changes in the positions takes place mostly in the lower tier in the Touring production throughout the sixth hour.
Heat on the tarmac dissipates as the day came to sundown. The remaining 26 cars on the ring prove to be the ones that survive so far with their respective race leaders maintained their positions in each class.
Nonetheless, signs of fatigue has started to appear on both car and drivers. One of the Touring Production car number 10 had suffered a crash at turn 9 but manage to pit in and drive away but suffered a lost in position.
Rain fell after the tenth hour. Although it just a mild drizzle, but it is wet enough for the drivers to switched on their wipers. This meant that their visibility was affected in the final two hours of the race.
Car number 8 from JC Racing retires after 207 laps from the Touring Production class. At the last hour, third placing in the GT3 class for last 11 hours had lost its position to car number 99 from Absolute Racing after it was pitted a little too long.
Three laps long, that is, for the Absolute Racing’s Audi to catch up. Challenges after challenges theses 25 cars plough through the drizzle towards the chequered flag at the end of the hour.
Clearwater Racing successfully repeated their 2013 victory this year, but only managed to beat last year’s lap count of 323 with two laps while third placing goes to Absolute Racing with 316 laps in the GT3 class.
GTC class champion goes to Team NZ’s Porsche 997 Cup car followed by B-Quick Racing’s Audi R8 LMS and Motorsports Services Porsche 997 Cup car.
Touring Production winners goes to R Engineering’s Honda Civic number 21 followed by N1 Racing’s Honda Civic and Modena Motorsports’ Renault Clio Cup at third placing.
Overall, the freedom rush was a low key event in comparison to the previous years due to Malaysia’s series of unfortunate events and the country is still in mourning over the loss of those two airliners. Nevertheless, victories was celebrated to the racing teams that made onto the podium.
Photos: Roy Zakaria | Zahid Kasim | Haznajims