Challenging Weekend Ends Well for PETRONAS Syntium Team
It was a weekend of one unfortunate occurrence after another for both Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars #1 and #28 at the third round of the Super Taikyu 2012 Series, sending the PETRONAS Syntium Team into a bevy of contingencies. Undeterred, the team remained focused and calm throughout the series of challenges on the 3.704-kilometre Sportsland Sugo road racing course and pulled through with car #1 finishing overall first.
SUPER TAIKYU SERIES 2012
RD.3 SPORTSLAND SUGO
PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO EMERGE TOP
· PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #28 secured pole postion the first time this season.
· #28 ran into a series of unfortunate incidents, including a suspension failure and drive-through penalty.
· #1 had an incident and dropped down the order to 37th but worked its way back to finish overall first.
· #1 scores a hat trick with three wins in three rounds.
It was a weekend of one unfortunate occurrence after another for both Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars #1 and #28 at the third round of the Super Taikyu 2012 Series, sending the PETRONAS Syntium Team into a bevy of contingencies. Undeterred, the team remained focused and calm throughout the series of challenges on the 3.704-kilometre Sportsland Sugo road racing course and pulled through with car #1 finishing overall first. Car #28 had a promising start to the race with pole position and a commanding lead initially, but eventually finished overall 16th and third in the ST-GT3 class. Now halfway through the season, car #1 has a perfect score with its hat trick of three wins in three rounds.
Driving for #1 this round are Nobuteru Taniguchi, Fariqe Hairuman and Dominic Ang, while Tatsuya Kataoka, Jono Lester and Melvin Moh helmed #28. Showing strong timings during practice on Saturday, the drivers of #28 carried this performance into Sunday morning and secured their first pole position of the season with the combined best lap times of Kataoka and Lester. The front row of the grid was locked out by the team once again, with #1 qualifying in second.
Lester made a clean start for the three-hour race at Sugo in #28, smoothly pulling away from Hairuman in #1. The latter lost a place at the first turn and was trying to get back ahead when the safety car came out on the second lap due to an incident at the back of the grid. Upon the restart on lap 6, Hairuman was unable to get ahead and instead, fell further back one position at the first turn again. While Lester was concentrating on building a gap from the rest of the field, Hairuman encountered contact with another car and went off the track just after 11 laps. Precious moments were lost there and after managing to get car #1 back on track, Hairuman pitted for Taniguchi to take over the wheel.
Working from 37th place near the back of the 42-car grid, Taniguchi skillfully ploughed through the field, taking one car at a time till he was in second place by the end of his one-hour stint. During this time, Lester was steadily building on his lead and had amassed a 51-second lead when the car ran into rear suspension problems and had to pit in for repair. Moh went out next, finding himself 11 laps behind the race leader in 37th place. The baton for #28 was last passed to Kataoka, who was equally fired up to catch as many cars as possible. Alas, he had to serve a drive-through penalty during his stint due to improper release from the pit when he took over.
Taniguchi handed car #1 over to Ang, who then chased down the last few cars ahead to take the lead and maintain it to the chequered flag. Towards the end, Ang had to come into the pits briefly to refuel the car and had the lead reduced slightly, but nonetheless taking victory eventually – their third win in three rounds. #28 followed up in 16th overall and third in class.
"This has been our most exciting race so far, with a lot of things happening continuously. A truly good team is one that does well under both desirable and undesirable conditions, and today the team has proven that we are able to manage unpredictable circumstances. We are on a constant learning curve and I think the drivers took back some valuable lessons from today’s experience that will serve them good over the course of time, be it in life or in racing,” said Dato’ David Wong, team principal of PETRONAS Syntium Team.
The Super Taikyu Series will take a three-month break for the summer before resuming with the fourth round at the end of August. Teams have a choice of either racing at Okayama International Circuit on 25 – 26 August or at the Malaysia Millennium Endurance Race (MMER) at Sepang International Circuit on 31 August to 1 September. PETRONAS Syntium Team will be heading to Malaysia to defend its title at Sepang, where they made the debut of their SLS AMG GT3 cars and secured victory subsequently.
Dato’ Wong added, "The next race may be a few months away, but that does not mean the work stops. We will continue to work hard in preparation for the MMER, where we aim to defend our title in the home country for our team.”
FARIQE HAIRUMAN / No. 1
I feel really sorry to the team for what happened during my stint. I was doing my best to avoid any unwanted incident but I seemed to be down on luck today. While caught in traffic, another car from another class made contact with me and I went off the track. I want to congratulate my team-mates (Nobuteru) Taniguchi and Dominic (Ang) on a job well done – they really drove very hard to make up for my mistakes and win the race.
NOBUTERU TANIGUCHI / No. 1
Today I guess we were lucky. We managed to emerge victorious amid all the troubles as our contenders also ran into trouble. The situation wasn’t favourable for us at the beginning and Fariqe’s mistake was regrettable. I did my best for my stunt and pushed as hard as I always do, but I had to monitor the pace and fuel consumption. I did what I could then Dominic took the car home. He did an excellent job today!
DOMINIC ANG / No. 1
It was an exciting weekend, with everyone in our category running into trouble, including us. The adversity caused us to change our strategy, which then worked to our advantage when the other cars ran into trouble. It was a relief to eventually get the win after all the problems. It was a good experience for me today, having driven the longest stint and also having to conserve fuel while maintaining the lead.
JONO LESTER / No. 28
This weekend, I definitely think that I reached a new level with my speed in the SLS AMG GT3. I showed that in practice, qualifying and my one-hour stint in the race. Unfortunately there are some problems out of a driver’s control and there was nothing we could do about the suspension problem. I’m quite disappointed, but very positive for the next round with our car #28 line-up.
MELVIN MOH / No. 28
After qualifying in pole position, I thought our car stood a very good chance of winning. Jono (Lester) did a good job pulling away from the cars at the start and when Fariqe (Hairuman) in sister car #1 made his mistake; I thought the win was in the bag. Unfortunately our car had some suspension problems in the right rear and that’s where we lost all the time. For my stint it was actually quite good, compared to the last race at Motegi. I think I made a good improvement in my driving from this race. Hopefully I can improve further, as the next race at MMER is on home ground and means a lot to me.
TATSUYA KATAOKA / No. 28
Our car #28 ran into two issues during the race – first, we experienced trouble with the suspension when Jono (Lester) was driving. He was probably worried and feeling lucky that he could make it back to the pit safely without damaging the car further. The other issue was the second pit stop – when I took over – where there was a pit work mistake and we were given a drive-through penalty. Although we clinched pole position and also fastest lap of the race (by Jono), it was a huge shame that we did not get the win. Finally we finished third in the ST-GT3 class and that was lucky. On a more positive note, we definitely recognise Jono’s pace – he was really fast and well done for a good performance.
MASATAKA YANAGIDA / ADVISOR
I want to speak for the drivers of car #28 – they showed great performance all weekend from practice to qualifying to the race. I do feel sorry for them, for the hiccups that happened. I know this is all part and parcel of motor racing, but it definitely feels disappointing. I just want to encourage all drivers not to give up and to keep going forward.
DATO’ DAVID WONG / TEAM PRINCIPAL
This has been our most exciting race so far, with a lot of things happening continuously. A truly good team is one that does well under both desirable and undesirable conditions, and today the team has proven that we are able to manage unpredictable circumstances. We are on a constant learning curve and I think the drivers took back some valuable lessons from today’s experience that will serve them good over the course of time, be it in life or in racing. The next race may only be three months away, but that does not mean the work stops. We will continue to work hard in preparation for the MMER, where we aim to defend our title in the home country for our team.