One of the biggest endurance races in this region is the 12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) held at the Sepang International Circuit. Last year, the PETRONAS Syntium Team defended their title with the same car, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1, and the same drivers – Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida and Dominic Ang. (Read my MMER photo postcard here)
That was the debut of the highly sought-after SLS AMG GT3 in the region and also the SLS AMG GT3′s first ever victory in long-distance endurance racing worldwide. The PETRONAS Syntium Team was rewarded for this achievement with the “Best Racing Performance” award at the AMG Customer Sports Season Finale at the end of the year in 2011.
This year, the team is aiming to defend their title once more and make it three in a row. That would make their fourth MMER win, first clinching it in 2009 with the BMW Z4M. The line-up for this year is very exciting!!
Because… 1 team, 2 countries, 2 races, 4 cars, 10 drivers!!!
Basically, the PETRONAS Syntium Team will be racing in Japan and Malaysia on the same weekend, taking on the fifth round of the Super Taikyu Series in Okayama and the MMER at Sepang.
Running parallel operations in two different countries, the PETRONAS Syntium Team will be competing in two races on the same weekend of 31 August to 1 September 2013. Taking on the fifth round of the Super Taikyu Series at Okayama International Circuit in Japan, the team will simultaneously race the 12-hour MMER at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
Two pairs of identical Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars #1 and #28 will be racing at the same time in two different countries on the same weekend. At Okayama where drivers will be working hard to secure points for the Super Taikyu Championship in a three-hour race, the team will feature Nobuteru Taniguchi and Melvin Moh in the SLS AMG GT3 #1, while Tatsuya Kataoka and Fariqe Hairuman helm the SLS AMG GT3 #28.
Over at Sepang, the SLS AMG GT3 #1 will be driven by Mercedes-Benz AMG Brand Ambassador Bernd Schneider, Jono Lester and Dominic Ang; whilst the SLS AMG GT3 #28 will be steered by Mercedes-Benz AMG Customer Sports co-ordinator Thomas Jäger, and German young drivers Lucas Wolf and Luca Ludwig. Held in the home country for title sponsor PETRONAS, the MMER hold lots of significance for defending champion PETRONAS Syntium Team.
Mercedes-Benz AMG Brand Ambassador and five-time DTM Champion Schneider first raced with the PETRONAS Syntium Team for the MMER in 2011, marking the debut of the SLS AMG GT3 in Asia. Together with Kataoka and Fariqe, they were leading the race until disaster struck in the last hour and they had to settle for third place. Schneider comes fresh from winning this year’s Bathurst 12 Hours, Dubai 24 Hours, Nurburgring 24 Hours and Spa 24 Hours races.
Jäger, 36-year-old German race driver and Mercedes-Benz AMG Customer Sports co-ordinator; Ludwig, 24-year-old German GT racing driver and Wolf, 18-year-old German Formula 3 driver will be racing for PETRONAS Syntium Team for the first time.
Dato’ David Wong, Team Principal of PETRONAS Syntium Team, said, “Unfortunately, due to a change in this year’s MMER regulations and a clash in date with the Okayama round of the Super Taikyu Series, Taniguchi and Yanagida will not be able to drive in MMER this time. Our hopes will be on young drivers Ang and Lester, with the help of the very experienced Schneider.
“It will be a highly exciting weekend as we chase two championship titles in two different countries. In Japan we are working on our sixth consecutive Super Taikyu title, whilst in Malaysia we are targeting our third consecutive MMER win for the SLS AMG GT3. To manage both races, we have brought in two more cars and four more drivers, including the two AMG works drivers. Consistency and focus will be of utmost importance and we will give it all we’ve got.”
The race on the 3.703km Okayama track will be of three hours on Sunday, 1 September, while the 12-hour MMER ran on the 5.543km Sepang track will start at midnight on Saturday, 31 August and end at noon on Sunday, 1 September.