Tan Sri Azman Yahya is far from a stranger to motorsports. A seasoned competitor in the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) and Merdeka Millenium Endurance (MME) races, where he emerged winner of both in 2004, the 48-year old entrepreneur definitely has racing in his blood.

Recently, Sime Darby Auto Performance, the official Porsche importer in Malaysia, announced its racing debut and named Azman as its driver. He will compete in Rounds 7 and 8 of this year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) – race day is tomorrow, Sunday.

We caught up with him at the Sepang circuit for a short chat only days before his track battle with 28 other 911 GT3 Cups virtually similar to his, and he was cool, collected and smiling, despite having yet to meet his race engineer! Naturally, we were curious about his early motorsports career and how he started.

“I did a lot of track days in Batu Tiga in those days,” said Azman, who is also Motorsports Association of Malaysia chairman. “I used to ride bikes, but that stopped in 1994 after a big crash. Interestingly, I don’t remember anything about that crash – I lost consciousness!”

It does take a lot, as you can imagine, to return to the world of racing after such an experience. But six years later, after Sepang opened, he raced for charity at the MME, finishing fourth and raising over RM200k. He has been racing at our national racetrack ever since.

Having driven on Silverstone and Palmer circuits in the UK, Sepang remains a favourite. “It (Sepang) is more modern and technical in places, particularly Turns 12 and 13.” He also cites Turns 5 and 6 as challenging for him. All four turns make up fast S-bends at Sepang.

Sunday will see 12 Class A and 16 Class B racers vying for the title in the PCCA, the former category for professional drivers, the latter non-professional. Azman will race in Class B. “Some Class B drivers come very close to the times set by the Class A drivers,” he added.

The car he will drive on Sunday, the Team Sime Darby GT3 Cup, omits driving aids such as ABS, traction control and servo-assisted brakes. It’s left-hand-drive, too. All the other cars on the track are basically similar save for their individual settings, such as camber, sway bars and tyre pressure, which each team is free to carry out to suit its driver’s driving styles.

“Settings are very important in racing,” said Azman. “0.1 of a bar in tyre pressure can make a difference of half a second.” Azman, who cites Ayrton Senna as his favourite racing driver, goes through the qualifying session today – here’s wishing him all the best!