We talked about Petronas Syntium Team and the Audi works team before the race, but it was Malaysia’s top racing driver Tunku Hammam Tunku Sulong and his Arrows Racing Team that claimed top spot at this year’s Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race (MMER). Partnering former European GT3 champion Christopher Haase and Dutchman Peter Kox in a Lamborghini LP560, they beat Audi Race Experience Joest’s R8 LMS by just a single lap – 315 to 314 laps.
Arrows broke the MMER 2008 record of 308 laps around the 5.543 km Sepang track by Porsche Club Singapore Racing with their win. Completing the podium in third was Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida and Imran Zaharias Shaharom in their Petronas Syntium Team (PST) BMW Z4M Coupe with 308 laps.
You might have noticed the absence of Porsche RSR teams on the podium, and it was poor reliability that put them out of contention. Porsche Club Singapore Racing (Mok Weng Sun/Craig G. Baird/Richard Lietz) started from pole position and was the fastest car all weekend but mechanical problems forced them out after 119 laps. Another former winner Kencana Racing Team, featuring Sepang boss Mokhzani Mahathir, also retired after 129 laps.
Other big name retirees included defending champion PST, which had Tatsuya Katoaka, Fariqe Hairuman and Melvin Moh stop with 80 minutes to go. They were in fourth before the No.1 Z4M broke down. Fairuz Fauzy and his Mofaz Racing Team may have been the fastest in qualifying in the Sports Production category, but they were the first to retire after only 30 laps when the engine of their Aston Martin blew.
The MMER jinx for Empire Motorsports continued for a third year after their Lotus 2-11 burst into flames during refueling; bringing their challenge to an end after just 56 laps. Alex Yoong, Matthew Marsh and Marchy Lee (Lamborghini LP560) lasted 198 laps before packing up.
The Sports Production class was won by Team Tracy Sports, featuring Masatama Kawaguchi, Masayuki Ueda and Adam Han. The Touring Production class was topped by the Honda Malaysia Racing Team trio of Eddie Lew, Aaron Lim and Rueben Wong. They did 281 laps in their Honda Civic Type R to be 8th overall. They beat HKS Garage by six laps.
“I regard today’s victory as the most important one. We’ve had near misses in the past two years and I am glad to repay them with this win,” said Eddie, who also won the overall MMER crown in 2004 and four Class A titles in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.