• Four-time Super Taikyu champion and two-time overall MMER winner PETRONAS Syntium Team aiming to take their third crown
• Reigning champions PETRONAS Syntium Team returns with both winning Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars
• Same stellar driver line-up of Taniguchi, Yanagida and Ang will be using the same car to defend title hopes
PETRONAS Syntium Team, reigning champions of the premier 12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER), returns to the Sepang International Circuit this week with only one goal on their minds – to win the MMER 2012 title, again. Bringing both Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars from Japan where the team is racing and leading in the Super Taikyu Series, PETRONAS Syntium Team will be running the same winning Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 car from MMER 2011 with the same driver line-up of Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida and Dominic Ang. Piloting sister car Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #28, which finished third overall last year, will be Tatsuya Kataoka, Farique Hairuman and Melvin Moh.
In 2011, PETRONAS Syntium Team made the debut of the highly sought-after Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in the region and successfully inked the books of history by clinching the overall victory of the MMER. This marked the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3′s first ever victory in long-distance endurance racing worldwide and PETRONAS Syntium Team was rewarded for its achievement with the “Best Racing Performance” award at the AMG Customer Sports Season Finale.
Two-time overall winner of the MMER, PETRONAS Syntium Team is aiming to create history this year by becoming the first team to win the MMER three times on the 5.543-kilometre Formula 1 track. Once again featuring the talents of professional GT champions Taniguchi, Yanagida and Kataoka with homegrown drivers Fariqe, Ang and Moh of Malaysia, the 13th MMER will be flagged off at 12 noon on 1 September 2012.
The highly exciting title fight last year went down to the last third of the 11th hour before the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Taniguchi, Yanagida and Ang emerged at the front of the field. Initially, the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Kataoka, Fariqe and Mercedes AMG works driver Bernd Schneider was leading the race when they ran into mechanical troubles in the 11th hour, giving up the lead to the Belgian Audi Club and their R8. Then the four-ringed rival fell prey to a tyre issue in the last 20 minutes of the race, allowing the Taniguchi-Yanagida-Ang trio to take over the lead and bring it home in first place.
“The MMER means a lot to us as it is the home country for the team and also a place where we have gone through nail-biting battles for victory. Sepang is the place where we made the debut of the SLS AMG GT3 and it was a sweet experience as we wrapped it up with a 1-3 finish last year. Our goal is to repeat that success and defend the title, making it a triple MMER crown. We have been preparing hard for the race and we look forward to a smooth and victorious race,” said Dato’ David Wong, team principal of PETRONAS Syntium Team.
Back in Japan in the six-round Super Taikyu Series, the professional Japanese endurance race championship, PETRONAS Syntium Team is topping the leaderboard after three rounds, on track in their pursuit of securing the fifth consecutive Super Taikyu title. For the fourth round of Super Taikyu, teams have a choice of either racing at Okayama International Circuit on 25 – 26 August or at the MMER on 31 August to 1 September.
NOBUTERU TANIGUCHI / Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1
It has been three months since our last race and during this time we have been working hard to prepare for the MMER. I am excited and eager to take our PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 car across the finish line first. It will be a good race, with most of the race taking place in the day time and I look forward to it greatly!
MASATAKA YANAGIDA / Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1
I’ve been racing with the PETRONAS Syntium Team since they made their foray into Super Taikyu and we have gone through so much over the last five years. We have experienced triumphs and upsets together and the team is one big happy family. Sepang holds many memories for us and this weekend is the chance for us to earn a new record of a triple MMER crown. I am happy to be driving with (Nobuteru) Taniguchi and (Dominic) Ang again, and we will put our best foot forward.
DOMINIC ANG / Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1
Last year was my first year racing with the PETRONAS Syntium Team and I couldn’t have asked for a better rookie GT season with an overall Super Taikyu title and the MMER overall win. I am very fortunate for the opportunity to be team-mates with professional GT racing champions (Nobuteru) Taniguchi and (Masataka) Yanagida. The learning curve for me was pretty steep but I’ve gained so much from them and I am grateful for the efficient driver development framework and structure of the PETRONAS Syntium Team. Coming back to Sepang to race at home in front of family and friends is exciting and a little nervous at the same time, and I will drive my heart out in aim of only one thing – the overall title.
TATSUYA KATAOKA / Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #28
The MMER 2011 was such an exhilarating one, with the race leaders trading positions right to the last quarter of the 12-hour race. I was teamed up with Fariqe (Hairuman) and (Bernd) Schneider, and we were holding the lead for much of the race. It was a pity that we ran into trouble but thankfully we got them solved and managed to finish on the podium still. With that behind us, it will be a fresh start this weekend and I am hungry to fight back for the victory.
FARIQE HAIRUMAN / Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #28
As the longest-serving driver of the team, I have been part of PETRONAS Syntium Team for more than a decade now. Racing is more than just beating the clock and finishing ahead of other teams. There is a lot of work and preparation that goes on beyond the track, before getting the car onto the start line. I never considered racing as a career, not until Dato’ David Wong talent-spotted me when I was just a teenager. PETRONAS Syntium Team has helped me grow as a driver, as well as a person, and I will drive nothing less than my best, especially at MMER which means so much to us.
MELVIN MOH / Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #28
The last I drove for the PETRONAS Syntium Team was back in 2010, when we were still running the BMW Z4M Coupe. I am grateful for the opportunity to return to the team for 2012 and race the high-performance Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 car. It is my first time driving this car this year and it is very different from the Z4M, but I’ve had lots of guidance and tips from the professionals, who have been a large help in my driver development progress. Partnering (Tatsuya) Kataoka and Fariqe (Hairuman) for the MMER, I can’t wait to get back into the car after our last race three months ago at Sugo. They are both very experienced drivers and I am looking forward to driving the MMER in front of the home crowd. My main focus for the weekend is to remain consistent and make no mistakes.
DATO’ DAVID WONG / TEAM PRINCIPAL
The MMER means a lot to us as it is the home country for the team and also a place where we have gone through nail-biting battles for victory. Sepang is the place where we made the debut of the SLS AMG GT3 and it was a sweet experience as we wrapped it up with a 1-3 finish last year. Our goal is to repeat that success and defend the title, making it a triple MMER crown. We have been preparing hard for the race and we look forward to a smooth and victorious race.