The 11th edition of the Merdeka Millennium Endurance race happens this weekend at Sepang (flag off on Saturday midnight), and the competition is getting tougher. Petronas Syntium Team (PST) is the defending champion following a 1-2 finish at last year’s race, but it won’t be easy for the Super Taikyu series pacesetters (four wins out of four so far) to retain their “home race” title.
“The quality of the participants will definitely add to the level of competition we will be up against. This year, we are returning to take on the challenge in the new GT-Class with the two BMW Z4M Coupes. Looking at the level of competition in the class, it will be difficult to expect a repeat of the fantastic feat we achieved here last year. Notwithstanding, everyone on the team has been working hard preparing for this race and we are optimistic that we can be competitive,” said David Wong, PST Team Principal.
PST’s challenge will be spearheaded by 27-year old Malaysian Fariqe Hairuman who will be joined by young Malaysian Melvin Moh Chun-Ho in his MME debut. Also driving car No. 1 is experienced Japanese Tatsuya Kataoka. In car No. 28 Masataka Yanagida and Nobuteru Taniguchi will drive with Malaysian rookie Imran Zaharias Shaharom.
They should be up against a strong team in Audi Race Experience Team Joest, which will bring their Le Mans winning Audi R8 LMS here for its Asian debut. This Audi works team will also boast two former LeMans winners in drivers Frank Biela and Marco Werner. They will be joined by former MME and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Daryl O’ Young.
“Yes, we have some big names. Frank won it (Le Mans) 5 times as a driver and I did it 3 times. Everyone says we are the leader in the race, but I see ourselves as a beginner,” said Werner. “The circuit is new for us, not only for the drivers, but also for the team. I’m new to the GT class. I did only 5 or 6 races with the R8, mostly on the Nurburgring, but there is a huge difference when compared to racing on an F1 Grand Prix circuit like this one here in Sepang,” he added.
Partner Biela shared the same tone. “When you come here it looks pretty easy, but when we went out there, we discovered that finding a good rhythm is not as easy as it seems when you’re looking at it for the first time,” he said.
It should be a good fight, stay tuned for updates!