With afternoon rain and late heavy showers becoming regularity in Malaysia nowadays, the outcome of the fourth edition of the Sepang 1000-Kilometer (S1K) race, which will be held at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) this weekend, looks likely to be heavily dependent on the weather situation.
“It’s going to be a long race and the weather would definitely play a very important role,” says Datuk Vincent Leong, leader of Team Iris Racing –Kegani, which aimed to finish among the podium winners this Saturday.
Though personally hoping for dry weather throughout the 181-lap contest this Saturday, Vincent is anticipating for rain to be a factor in the race, which would be flagged off at 12 noon on Saturday and finishing some nine hours later depending on the weather. Regardless of the weather, Vincent, who is partnering Datuk Lee Kok Kwan and Peter England in an 1800cc Toyota Celica in Class 1, is looking forward to the race in search for his first podium win.
“The main reason why we are competing in Class 1; and not in Class 2, is basically because of the car after we raced the Renault last year. The drivers wanted a Coupe instead of a hatchback; and the natural choice was the Celica.”
“This Sepang 1000-Kilometer race would also serve as a preparatory race for the team to enter the MMER next year. Therefore, a hatchback wouldn’t be appropriate,” said Vincent, who competed with Lee in the S1K in 2010; but failed to achieve the desired result. Dato’ Lee and I participated as a two-man team, which proved to be very exhausting … the car was a Proton Satria GTi and it developed problems during the race; hence the DNF,” said Vincent, who regularly competed in the Malaysian Super Series and Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER).
Declaring that the team has the experience to compete against the top teams, Vincent said: “As for the drivers, all the drivers are no strangers to the sports. Datuk Lee and I had participated numerous times in the MMER and S1K.
“Peter England is an active race in the Asian Classic Car Challenge (ACCC) in Sepang … all three of us were in the Renault Megane RS Challenge last year,” said Vincent, adding that he predicts a very close race this year. We expect a close race as the drivers of the leading cars are very experienced and would be driving similar cars … it’s a level playing field,” said Vincent, who would have two other Toyota Celica in Class 1.
While Class 1 groups cars between 1,6001cc to 1900cc, the more popular Class 2 pits a bigger grid of cars below 1600cc which included the defending overall champion Type R Racing Team and three factory works team from Proton R3, Honda Malaysia and Mazda.
For Vincent, his Formula Iris Racing Team is supported by a leading IT company, Iris, which pioneered e-passport and various IT innovations, with the Toyota Celica being developed and set up by the renowned Kegani Racing Team.
In his comments, England said that he hoped to put his mastery of the Sepang track from his participation in the ACCC for good use and help the team to its target of a podium finish this Saturday.
“I’m a newcomer to endurance racing, coming in on the wrong side of 50! At least I know my way around SEPANG after the last 2 years sprint racing and lots of track days on bikes back in the early 2000s. As a kid, I grew up watching what eventually became the Bathurst 1000s. In those days the guys would turn up in basically road cars and race them on the weekend and sometimes drive home after the race. They were just normal ‘blokes’ running big scary V8s around a crazy track. Of course things are totally different nowdays … anyway, for me I always dreamed about being like those guys, so lining up on the grid on Saturday in a car with a great sponsor like Iris really is a dream come true,” England added.
The official programme for the S1K opens tomorrow with the official free practice. Qualifying for grid positions will be held on Friday with the race to be flagged off at 12 noon on Saturday. Spectators can enjoy all the action from the Main Grandstand for free.
words & pix: SIC