The Drive In Automotive
Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race 233 Laps!
The 12 Hour Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race presented many “firsts” to Team Sunday Car Club- JTCars. This was their first endurance outing, their first campaign in a front wheel drive car, but most notably, their first time racing the hottest race of their lives!
Did you know that steam actually gushes out of your body after being pressure-cooked for an hour in a race suit? It really pushes the human body to the limit. Especially for Driver 1, the brave soul who drove the first stint at noon. The moment he came out from the car, we could see his whole body steaming up as if under fire, and this was in day light! A new respect then, to the 87 other men and women who brave this element in pursuit of a podium finish that would only fit 9.
It was a good race nevertheless. From the moment go, Team SCC managed to get pass many cars whilst driving conservatively. The climb from 10th position progressed steadily. The challenge was not so much overtaking the slower cars but to avoid the faster GTA Ferraris, SLS, Porsches; pretty much the rest of the field. When car no 19 came in for its first pit stop we were already up to 4th in class. All drivers and machine performed like clockwork. As the hours passed, the team managed to stay in the top 7 positions throughout.
In the midst of the busy pit bustling and cars zooming past the main straight, there was not much time to sit down to have a quite moment. Many familiar faces were met and much time was spent chatting up before the next driver stint was due.
Half way through the race, the sun began to set and the lower temperature allowed for a more comfortable drive. As the drivers quicken the pace, the race also saw cars faltering as midrace took is first victims.
Teams SCC’s assault was not all smooth sailing either. A loose fuel hose saw the Driver 2 come in just after 7 laps and the sudden pit stop took away many precious minutes. Then, on the 8th hour the rear tail lamps stopped working and car no 19 was flagged in to rectify the issue. A healthy gap that was built up early in the race began eroding. Soon, another mistake was made when Driver 3 was called in 15 minutes too early. Positions dropped back to 10th, where we first started. Clearly the rookie team was beginning to feel the drain of non-stop endurance racing.
As the final quarter of the race dawned, the team began increasing its pace for the final push. Pressure was applied and renewed focus followed the drivers on board. The lap times begin to drop and the new pace yielded returns. With 2 hours to go Team SCC climbed back up to 7th position and in sights of 6th.
The eleventh hour came and the ending was near. Due for its last stop of the night, Car no 19 came into the pits as scheduled. The car was jacked up, new tires on and the last batch of fuel was pumped in. Spirits were high as Team SCC finished 11 Hours and 20 minutes of racing. With 40 minutes to go, all we had to do was nurse the car to the finish line and we would have secured 6th position on our first campaign. As the air jacks dropped the car for the last time, driver 3 jumped in the last stint and all cheered as the car fired to life.
Then, like it always happens in the movies, the car stalled. After a few cranks, it eventually fired up but this time the motor sounded different. Into gear, the car did not want to move and some time was spent scanning for the problem. Eventually the boys managed to engage forward motion but the car limped out of the pit box. Refreshed but crawling, worried eyes watched as the car made its way back to the track.
A few minutes later the dreaded driver com radioed in. Car no 19 had halted track side at turn 4. After a few minutes of tech support the car still could not move. It was official, car no 19 would end its MMER assault after 11hours and 35 minutes.
As the word passed about in the pits, not all faces were down. In the true spirit of sportsmanship, everyone gave a big round of applause; to the crew who brought the car this far and to the crowd who stayed the whole race supporting all the way. Even the drivers were satisfied knowing that their 2 weeks preparation brought the team this far and every member performed professionally throughout.
They say racing requires 3 main ingredients: Luck, Car and Skills. And in that order it must follow. Lessons learned. Skills sharpened, Team SCC will rise up to the next challenge. All the best guys!
Sepang International Circuit