The seventh edition of the Sepang 1000km Endurance Race (S1K) gets underway at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) today with a breath of freshness folowing the introduction of the Independence Cup, which has drawn applause from the competing teams.
Separated from the factory-works teams such as the likes of Proton R3 Motorsports and Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT), the so-called ‘smaller teams’ will now have a shot at glory while having the opportunity to compete against the ‘Big Boys’ of racing.
“I would say that it is a brilliant move by the organisers. We have better chances at this year’s race and can really focus on our driving. Previously, we would have had almost no chance against the big teams,” said former Proton R3 Motorsports driver Faidzil Alang.
Partnering long-time friend and track nemesis Keifli Othman for FXTune Racing, Faidzil – a former Proton GTi Championship and Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) champion, started from the fifth row after finishing 9th overall in qualifying and second in the Independence Cup class. Driving a Proton Satria Neo machine, the dynamic duo clocked an average best time of 2 minutes 41.734 seconds.
Commenting on his participation, Keifli said: “I’m humbled and truly grateful to be given this opportunity as I think FXTune Racing are very professional and have a good overall package, things that most racing drivers would want.
“I’ve known Faidzil and team Principal Razak (Mohideen) for a long time and although I’ve been on the other side of the fence, I’ve always been impressed by what they are capable of and their professionalism in racing. We aim to do well this year,” added Keifli.
The Independence Cup class was topped by the partnership of Kenny Lee, Nick Mah and Australian Chris O’Shannessy, which chalked an average best time of 2 minutes 38.677 seconds around the 5,543-metre track in their Suzuki Swift Sport machine for the fourth best overall time.
Like Faidzil, Kenny, who won the overall S1K title with O’Shannessy in 2010 in a Toyota Levin, praised SIC for introducing the new class, which he believed will woo in bigger participation next year.
“It has been a challenging but interesting event for us. We have been busy since Wednesday after our shakedown as we encountered some misfiring issues. We ended up spending the whole Official Practice Day troubleshooting and testing. We had a little relief yesterday as we managed to resolve the issue and had a smooth qualifying session,” Kenny said.
Flagged off by Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir, Chairman of Sepang International Circuit under clear skies and sunny weather, the race started with Proton R3 Motorsports’ two entries on the front row – Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel on pole position in a Proton Iriz machine, alongside Fariqe Hairuman in a Proton Suprima S.
The winner last year in a Proton Prevé, Tengku Djan will be defending his crown with Syafiq Ali, who is bidding to be the first driver to win the overall title three times. He won the crown for the first time in 2012, partnering Japan’s Super GT driver Morio Nitta in a Proton Satria Neo.
Promoted and organised by SIC to promote grassroots development in Malaysia’s motorsports, 21 cars are taking part this year with drivers coming from as far as Japan, Hong Kong and Australia for the competition.
The drivers, which include two lady drivers – Nurul Husna Nasharuddin and Geraldine Darlene Read, will be competing for 181 laps around the 5,543-metre track with the contest expected to take more than 8 hours.
SEPANG 1000KM ENDURANCE RACE – PAST CHAMPIONS
2014 Proton R3 Motorsports – Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel/Syafiq Ali (Proton Prevé)
2013 Honda Malaysia Racing Team – Aaron Lim/Eddie Lew (Honda Jazz)
2012 Proton R3 Motorsports – Syafiq Ali/Morio Nitta (Proton Satria Neo)
2011 Type R Racing Team – Boy Wong Yew Choong, Soh Kee Koon, Lai Wee Sing (Toyota Altis)
2010 Ultra Racing-Kegani – Kenny Lee/Chris O’Shannessy (Toyota Levin)
2009 Type R Racing Team – Boy Wong Yew Choong/ Soh Kee Koon/Tek Kean Kang (Honda Integra)
Words & Photos: SIC