2012 SUPER TAIKYU SERIES
For Immediate Release
PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM AIMS TO MAKE IT FIVE
Saturday, 10 March 2012 – Following a record-breaking four-time Super Taikyu winning streak, reigning champions PETRONAS Syntium Team (PST) aims to retain the title for the fifth consecutive time. Debuting the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in Super Taikyu, PST will once again be running two cars this year.
This is the same car that won the 2011 Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race in September last year – its maiden race appearance that earned the Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3's first ever victory in long-distance endurance racing worldwide. For this achievement, PST was rewarded with the "Best Racing Performance" award at the AMG Customer Sports Season Finale 2011.
Prior to the start of the 2012 Super Taikyu Series later in the month, PST ran six drivers at the official pre-season testing session at Fuji Speedway today. Drivers tested over the three one-hour sessions, where track conditions varied between wet and damp, and PST unfortunately faced mechanical problems during the last hour.
PST’s regular drivers Nobuteru Taniguchi, Tatsuya Kataoka and Masataka Yanagida of Japan, as well as PST’s longest-serving driver Fariqe Hairuman of Malaysia will be driving for the team again. Having given good performance in his rookie year, Malaysian Dominic Ang returns for his second Super Taikyu season. Former PST driver Melvin Moh of Malaysia – who last drove for the team in 2010 in the BMW Z4M – will also be coming back for this season. New rookies for PST in 2012 are Ryan Ritchie of Malaysia and Jono Lester of New Zealand. With only six seats across two cars, the rookie drivers will have to compete for their respective places at each round.
Round 1 of the 2012 Super Taikyu Series will be held at Fuji Speedway on 23 – 25 March.
It’s been six months since I last drove the SLS and unfortunately it was raining so I could not push the car much. However, through the brief session today, I realised that the potential for the SLS is very high and it is a fun car to drive.
I was the first to drive out the car today, so I did the checking. The testing session got off to a good start but the weather conditions worsened, so I came in early to give the rookie drivers more seat time.
Absent with apologies from the testing session today, Yanagida will be driving for PST again and looks forward to the season.
I managed to get the most seat time today and it felt so good being back in the car after a long break. I could not have asked for a better birthday present.
I’m glad to be back again since I last raced with the team last November at the last round. The bad weather and mechanical problems unfortunately shortened the session for us.
Absent with apologies from the testing session today, Moh will be driving for PST again and looks forward to the season.
JONO LESTER (Rookie)
It was a day of firsts for me – my first time in Japan, my first time driving at Fuji Speedway and my first time behind the wheel of the SLS. I did my best to adapt to these new conditions and make the most out of the brief stint. Nonetheless, it was good to get acquainted with the team and the car prior to the start of the season.
RYAN RITCHIE (Rookie)
I had limited time with the car as my stint got red-flagged due to a track incident caused by another team. It is my first time driving the SLS with the team, after my testing with them last in the Z4M. Still, it was a good experience.
DAVID WONG (Team Principal)
We are running the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for the full season of Super Taikyu this year, having retired our legendary BMW Z4M race cars last year. The SLS AMG GT3 is significantly faster compared to the BMW Z4M. Therefore, the rookie drivers will have to compete for seats at every race. Today’s official test was not just for the drivers, but for the team’s overall preparation as well. Having won Super Taikyu four years in a row, we only expect the very best from the team as we aim to retain the title for the fifth consecutive time, with no compromise on performance.
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