In time-honoured tradition, the end of the month of August bring more than just celebrations of our nation’s independence, but also the annual running of endurance racing in the country.

As such, the annual MSF Merdeka Race will once again be held this year on August 31, albeit with participation in virtual form through the MSF Cyber Turismo e-racing platform that runs Gran Turismo Sport on the Sony PlayStation platform.

This will be in place of the real-life edition of the race that has been rescheduled to December due to current pandemic conditions faced in the country. Officially titled the MSF-MAM Merdeka CyberEnduro Festival, the virtual endurance racing event has been envisioned to capture the excitement and and building up of a real-world Merdeka endurance race.

As such, the virtual on-circuit action begins well before the feature race event; MSF have crafted a schedule of activity to be held over two weeks in order to recreate the days and weeks of testing and fine-tuning in the run up to the final race on Merdeka Day itself.

The expanded format is unique and the first for an e-racing event hosted in Malaysia; this will be a team-oriented racing festival, where four racers per team will take part in four different racing events, held at different simulated circuits and each driver will partake in a one hour stint.

The festival of racing will be held across three stages. This begins with Team Qualifications from August 23 to 25 at 10:00pm, followed by a Battle Stage on August 29 in which teams will take part in a three-hour race with driver stints of 45 minutes,

Each race will be held at a different time of day on the racing platform in order to simulate the 12-hour timeline as experienced in a real-life Merdeka race event. Races will be held at noon, in the twilight hours as well as at daybreak, then finally culminating in the fourth and final race at noon the following day.

Official registration of teams will be held on August 18, during which all participating drivers are required to lock in their selection of race cars from the Gr. 3 category. The sequence of circuits for each race will be officially announced after this point. Subsequently, teams are to submit their driver sequence before August 23, thus allowing teams the weekend for testing their driving sequencing for the circuit schedule.

“For the MSF CyberEnduro Festival, we want to capture the weeks-long, drawn-out preparations which real-world racing teams go through in the run-up to the Merdeka Enduro in real life; the testing, planning and strategy discussions. While e-racing is typically a solo sport, our event now requires drivers to learn to work together and develop teamwork towards attaining the goal of becoming Merdeka CyberEnduro champions,” said MSF principal Adian Yein.

As distributor of Yokohama tyres and Advanti Racing wheels, YHI Malaysia is supplying the event with real-life prizes, including two sets of Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tyres as well as two sets of Advanti Racing DST Storm wheels for the winning team at the Merdeka CyberEnduro. Prizes are up for winning as well for Driver of the Day, which will be selected through online voting.

“E-racing is an alternative platform for motorsport fans, and we believe it should be given the recognition and support as with any other sport,” said YHI Malaysia alloy wheels sales manager Rodney Koh.

“Despite limitations and restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation, we have explored a different avenue for the spirit of motorsport to endure, even through racing on a virtual platform. This also ties in perfectly with the increasing interest and participation in the e-sports scene,” said president of the Motorsports Association of Malaysia, Tan Sri Mokhzani Tun Mahathir.

Find out more about participation requirements, racing setup and regulations on the MSF Racing website, here. For audiences, tune in to watch the virtual racing action live on the MSF Facebook page, along with a one-hour highlights programme to be aired on Astro Arena (channel 801) the following week.