Tough luck for SPS Rally Team

Published on April 8th, 2011

It was a rather challenging weekend for SPS Rally Team during the recently concluded Malaysian Rally Championship Round 1, which was held in Johor Bahru/Kota Tinggi on April 1 to 3.

It all started with two days before the start of the first Special Stage in Angsana. Shahrol, the co-driver, called home to inform the rest of the crew that there was a problem with the Putra’s ignition system and there was a slight loss of power with the car’s performance.

The first SS saw the Putra struggled a little at the starting line and towards the first two corners, but managed to pick up speed a while after. The first stage was held over gravel/tarmac combination, and with less than 100% performance, driver Jai Rizal had to maintain the best possible consistency to get ahead.

But luck was not on their side that Friday. As soon as they crossed the finish line, the car’s timing belt decided to break and the Putra glided towards the end of the road, dead. A 5-minute penalty was imposed due to a miscommunication between the crew members, which put them last on the list.

The crew replacing bent valves

“The engine died suddenly, and we couldn’t start the engine. We found out later that the timing belt slipped, probably caused by the gravel. It was disappointing, because even with lesser power, we clocked good time. The penalty was a wakeup call,” said co-driver Shahrol ‘Superman’ Zainal.

Yes, this picture was taken on purpose

Time was scarce, and the crew had less than twelve hours to repair the damaged engine. Frantic search began to take place, but after a few precious hours, the crew decided to repair the head themselves and replace the bent valves. It was almost dawn when the team came back to the hotel room, with swollen eyes and smiles. They repaired the Putra.

The team was running under the banner of GSR Pennzoil Racing Team 1 for the weekend, racing for the P11 category.

“We were thrilled when they spoke to us. It was like a breath of fresh air, and God knows we’ve been hoping for an opportunity for a long time already. Hopefully we can pull something off during the weekend and help GSR Pennzoil to achieve much more in rallying. We’ll definitely give our utmost support for the team,” said Shahrol.

“The car is ready, and tomorrow would be a long one. Thirty-two kilometres on an SS, that would be very challenging. We couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Both Jai (driver) and I are confident with our skills, and if everything goes without any hitch, we are sure we can give the best result,” said Shahrol.

It started early on the morning for the 2nd SS, and everyone was biting their nails. Later we learnt that the car had to be towed out due to a broken absorber mounting. The car returned to the Service Area, and repair began almost immediately.

The Superman with designer Nenok FreshPhysics

The absorber was repaired, and the team waited for Sunday. The championship was still on, and Jai and Shahrol did not want to let it go.

“Before the damage, we were flying in the Special Stages. We were faster, and the car felt perfect. I told Boy (chief mechanic SPS Rally Team) that the car under-steered a lot, but he told me that I was too fast and I should slow down a little,” said Jai.

“The damage was not extensive, but it cost us a DNF (Did Not Finish) on Saturday. We’ll do better on Sunday,” said Jai.

Sunday’s 2nd Leg was scheduled to be held at Tai Tak Courth House, designated SS9. It was a 12.42KM track, and the team wanted something out of it.

The Putra could be seen navigating through the track at an insane speed. Not as fast as the Neo S2000, of course, but you get the idea. Jai even managed to overtake a car in the SS, and reached the finish line just as another car was about to handover their time-card.

SS10 was even better, and just like SS9, Jai and Shahrol dominated the P11 1.8 2WD category. While still being near the bottom of the overall category list, hopes were running high for the team.

Just when things were looking extremely well, lady luck decided to pull away and deny her kisses to the team. The car’s gearbox was destroyed after a bad jump, and the car went stationary at SS11.

Err dude, I don't think it's a deer... this one has fangs!

The team was officially DNF for the whole of Round 1.

Dude, have you called AAM?

If you look really carefully, you can see a Bigfoot squating on the treeline

“We were running great. Jai had good fun with the car in the tracks, and I felt better reading him the tulips. We were clocking fantastic time. The car felt perfect, and it felt like nothing could go wrong. That last jump cost us our gearbox, and it was really unexpected,” said Shahrol.

“We know our strength, we know our capabilities. If we have bigger budget or support, God willing, we know we can deliver. Thank you to Gunaseelan Rajoo and GSR Pennzoil for believing in us for Round 1, and hopefully we can work together again in the future. We will definitely give more in Perlis,” finished Shahrol.

Next round of MRC will be held in Perlis on May 28-29.

Words & Pix: Syawal Ahmad


  1. Posted by "superman" on April 8th, 2011, 18:52

    “sedey+kiciwa” still hit

  2. Posted by rizal on April 8th, 2011, 19:00

    poor…us.. we try our best, it did not turn out like we aspect.. just be ready for next round in perlis with new body shell i hope..thanks guys…

  3. Posted by FP2011 on April 8th, 2011, 19:09

    Magical touch by Syawal!!! Dopest photos!

  4. Posted by reen on April 9th, 2011, 00:00

    Btw good performance guys!!
    Show ur power for next round..
    Dont give up!!
    See u next round in PERLIS!!!

  5. Posted by SS on April 9th, 2011, 09:47

    our support still on u guys!! i’m waiting to watch’g out more in 2nd rd in Perlis..

  6. Posted by i.s.y on April 11th, 2011, 15:46

    thanks v.m supporters….
    we will give maximum attack for next round..

  7. Posted by joe on April 18th, 2011, 18:39

    go go sps rally team


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