I was just briefly in Sendai over the Easter weekend to cover the PETRONAS Syntium Team’s half-day testing at Sportsland Sugo.
Having won the Super Taikyu Series for the last five years in a row, the Singaporean-owned team is itching to attain their sixth consecutive title.
The domestic flight from Tokyo (Narita Airport) to Sendai was cancelled due to an aircraft maintenance issue so I ended up having to take the shinkansen, only reaching Sendai in the late afternoon. By the time we got to the track the sun was setting but there was just enough time to do a track walk of the 3.737-kilometre Sugo circuit.
Using only the team’s Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #28, the three-hour session was shared between Japanese professional driver Tatsuya Kataoka, as well as Fariqe Hairuman, Dominic Ang and Melvin Moh from Malaysia. The final driver line-up for 2013 will be announced at a later date.
Running on used tyres, all drivers were clocking competitive timings and the session went fairly smoothly except for a mistake in the last two minutes when Moh spun off the chicane.
Dato’ David Wong, team principal of PETRONAS Syntium Team, said, “The pre-season test is the time where we try out different setups and also give the drivers some track time as they prepare themselves for the start of the season. This year the GT3 class has a bigger field with some strong new entries, which is good for the competition. We will definitely do our utmost best and aim for our sixth consecutive title. Now that the cobwebs are dusted off the cars and the racing gear, we are ready to go racing.”
The Super Taikyu Series will be held over seven rounds this year, covering circuits in Sugo, Motegi, Fuji, Okayama, Suzuka and Autopolis, with a new venue in Korea. The opening round of the series will be held at Sugo on 20 – 21 April.
I was told that the weather isn’t too cold so I didn’t pack my winter gear – bad move. Temperatures were about 5 to 10 degrees Celsius and the winds were chilly too! I forgot my all-important neck warmer and hat so I had to make do with my hoodie and this surgical-looking mask that many Japanese use!
Well, I survived the cold thankfully:)