Racing is not easy, never was, and never will be. Even as cars get faster and more efficient, the physical limitations of the drivers remains the same as they were years ago and that is why cars and races can only be developed till a certain extent.
As far as races go, a regular race or Grand Prix goes on for a specified number of laps depending on the length circuit and then its over in about 90 to 120 minutes tops but not our Merdeka Millennium Endurance race (MME). Instead of being based on number of laps around the Sepang International Circuit, the MME goes on for a specified period of time, 12-hours to be exact.
Racing for that long with unpredictable weather and 77 cars competing for top honors at the worlds most technically challenging circuit is not for everybody. I personally saw people fainting, drivers stepping out of their car after only an hour of racing panting and sweating as if they had just finished a pentathlon, team members loosing their temper and legendary cars falling apart under the extreme conditions.
Aston Martin, Porsche, Honda, Lotus, all names that trace their roots back to the very first days of motor racing but on that faithful day even these seasoned racers succumbed to the conditions. As high and mighty as it may sound, out of the 77 cars that started the race, HPC-ZTH Race Team was one of the 40 cars that managed to complete the demanding endurance run.
Though we did manage to complete the race, the odds seemed to be constantly stacked against us, a problematic vvtl-i system, unreliable this, messed up that, worn out this, broken that, the list goes on. We didn’t even think we would qualify what more finish the race.
But that’s where great team determination, teamwork, dedication, skill and knowledge played an important role. Working overnight to resolve the issues, the team kept their minds right and the drivers kept their heads cool, the car came together eventually.
Even though starting the race at the second last grid position, spirits remained high and positive. With great overtaking and maneuvering by our first driver, James Russell took the car off to a great start, climbing up to 3rd place by the first quarter of the race.
But problems soon set in – the engine experienced vibration issues but this was resolved quickly during the pit stop for driver change. However, Angeline Ooi had an unlucky spell with a minor crash with an Aston Martin, resulting a shredded front tyre that cost us a lot of time as the car and driver limped back to the pit. Nonetheless, a hammer, duct tapes, cable ties and a quick tyre change were all that were needed to get the car back on track.
There were times we dropped back to the last three, and that’s where the experience of the HPC-ZTH drivers came in handy. Ross Jamison did very well with each laps especially during the last quarter of the race, doing around 2:42s-2:43s. The trio of our drivers soon made excellent time and eventually caught up with the rest of the field.
Night fall was relatively issue free and by the time the clock struck 11.45pm, Team HPC-ZTH Racing in its debut race, crossed the finishing line in 7th place in Class B. Seventh place may not seem like much but we are truly contented with the result as this is the first time we are going racing. With our partner, HPC and a great driver line up, there are only better things to come in future races.
HPC-ZTH Race Team would like to thank all sponsors, everyone who gave their support and those who were there during the race to lend their hand. We couldn’t have done it without you and we look forward to a better finishing next year!