PETRONAS Syntium Team Celebrates First Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 Win in Japan

23 – 25 MARCH

For Immediate Release


Monday, 26 March 2012 – The PETRONAS Syntium Team (PST) secured its first victory of the season at the opening round of the Super Taikyu Series 2012, taking the top two spots on the podium with their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1 and #28 in that order. More significantly, this marks the first Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 win in Japan, setting another milestone for PST after winning last year’s 12-hour Malaysia Millennium Endurance Race (MMER), where the team ran the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars for the first time and came in first and third place overall. That was the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3's first ever victory in long-distance endurance racing worldwide and the team was rewarded for its achievement with the "Best Racing Performance" award at the AMG Customer Sports Season Finale 2011. 

Entering the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for the six-round Super Taikyu Series 2012 is a whole new experience for everyone at PST. Both cars were only contested once before at MMER, thus set-up and running of the cars is not quite the same. Additionally, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 is a much faster car compared to the BMW Z4M coupe the team was running previously, therefore drivers found themselves doing a lot more overtaking than before. Locking out the front row for qualifying with the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1 in pole position, both cars had a smooth start to the four-hour race held at the 4.563-kilometre Fuji Speedway. A little confusion during the first driver change, an unscheduled pit stop, as well as a 10-second penalty for each car called for a change in strategy, but while the means to the end was re-routed, the target of a 1-2 finish was successfully achieved.

Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka took the wheel of PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1 and #28 respectively for the first driver stint. Kataoka was quick to take the lead from Taniguchi, lost it briefly but gained it back just as fast. Both cars pitted at the same time due to a driver error from Taniguchi, but the crew responded promptly to the situation and handled it well to keep the cars on track ahead of the pack. 

After the first driver change, PST comeback driver Melvin Moh in car #28 was a lap behind race leader Dominic Ang in car #1. While adapting to his first race in the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Moh was pushing out competitive timings as he closed the gap on Ang.

The battle was then handed over to Fariqe Hairuman in car #1 and rookie Jono Lester in car #28 as they took on the last stint. Vibrations in car #28 caused slight panic to Lester and an unscheduled pit stop to check the car set them back another lap behind race leader car #1. With two laps between them, both cars worked hard to manoeuvre through the traffic but unforeseen overtaking under a yellow flag disrupted the chase momentarily with a 10-second penalty for each car. Several other cars on the grid received the same penalty, raising the activity level in the pit lane. Fariqe got back out on track with the race lead firmly in his hands, finally taking the chequered flag first at the end of four hours, one lap ahead of Lester who took the car home in second place. 

The next race will be held at the 4.8-kilometre road track at Twin Ring Motegi on 28 – 29 April.

I was the first driver to go out for car #1 and I made a mistake by misreading the pit stop signal and came in one lap too early. That caused a little mayhem but we got over that quickly and we have to make sure this does not happen again. That aside, we still have to work on improving the new car and I believe we can do it through the season.

(Nobuteru) Taniguchi came in one lap earlier than planned so I got a bit confused. For my stint, I was struggling with a full fuel load and a lot of traffic, so my race pace at the start was not too good. I managed to improve my timings towards the end of my stint. Overall I’m quite disappointed with my performance today, but I will keep working hard.

It has been five months since I last raced and I missed the feeling of the adrenalin from racing. Today, it was a superb race and I was putting out consistent lap times. The SLS AMG GT3 is a very quick car, quicker than the Z4M we were driving previously, so we had more work to do as we encountered more overlapping. In addition, I haven’t been on the top of the podium since 2009 and it was wonderful to finish first this time.

Today we had to manage the car balance due to the fuel consumption, but I did have a good battle with our sister car #1. I overtook them and was leading the race until the pit stop when we had to do the first driver change. Things were not happening like they should and it was quite a pity as we had a chance to gun for the win. The car is new to this series and it was really nice to drive. We will be back at Motegi to try and win the next race!

We had a bit of confusion during the first pit stop. After that, at the start of my stint I took it a bit easy, probably a little too easy so I started pushing and the timings got more consistent. However, I still have a lot to learn about dealing with traffic. In general, I’m quite satisfied with my performance in driving the SLS for the first time. I will work hard to improve more for the next round and improve my race pace.

It’s been an exciting debut weekend in Japan and I’ve learnt a great deal although I’m a little bit disappointed for myself in the race. My endurance racing experience is limited so I am adopting an ‘on the go’ learning during my stint. Also, the car is new to me and so I tend to be more cautious and I thought the car had a problem when it didn’t. Our car #28 had the pace to beat our sister car #1 and win. When I took over the wheel we were two laps down, the varied speeds of cars across the six competing classes was such a challenge due to all the traffic and I was not quite as fast as Fariqe (Hairuman) who had the lead in car #1. It was a good start and there are five more rounds to go. We have a good package and we know we can qualify good so let’s do it car #28!

We had a smooth weekend leading up to the race then many things started happening – some confusion at the first pit stop, then the 10-second penalties for overtaking under a yellow flag which several other cars on the grid incurred too. It kept us all busier than intended but at least we achieved a 1-2 finish. Still, we have to pay more attention and get the flow right the next time. It was helpful that we had no machine troubles too.

Entering the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for the entire Super Taikyu Series is a whole new experience for everyone at PETRONAS Syntium Team. Previously we only had one race outing with the cars at last year’s 12-hour Malaysia Millennium Endurance Race, which we won first and third place overall, hence, the set-up and running of the cars is not quite the same. There was a little misunderstanding for the first pit stop but the crew reacted fast to the situation and handled it well, keeping the cars on track and achieving our target of a 1-2 finish. Overall, a good start to the season.

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Founded and run by DWA Motorsports, the PETRONAS Syntium Team is the brainchild of David Wong, who took the PETRONAS name into touring car and superbike racing in 1990 and immediately established his team as the regional pacesetters in Asia. Today, after over two decades of success, PETRONAS Syntium Team is testament to a solid record of race victories with over 100 wins. 

The history of the PETRONAS Syntium Team can be traced back to 1990 when it was racing in Malaysian and Asian saloon car events under the names Team PETRONAS Mach 5 and Team PETRONAS Primax. Collaboration in 1999 with Opel Motorsport South Africa saw a rename to Team PETRONAS Syntium Opel. 

In 2002, the team became known as PETRONAS Syntium Proton Team and saw its entry into the world’s premier touring car series – the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). After a three-year BTCC campaign, PETRONAS Syntium Proton Team returned to Asia in 2005 to compete in the Asian Touring Car Championship (ATCC), winning the Team Championship in 2006 before clinching both the Team and Driver Championship in 2007. 

Thereafter, the team is now known as the PETRONAS Syntium Team and continued to add to the ever increasing list of awards and accolades, including the prestigious title of a four-time Super Taikyu champion, winner of the Tokachi 24 Hours, 24 Hours of Dubai class champion and a multiple Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race winners.

DWA Motorsports is the internationally successful motor racing team that is part of DWA’s integrated automotive synergy which encompasses a one-stop vehicle service centre and lubricants distribution business in Singapore. Supported by PETRONAS since 1990 to run the successful PETRONAS Syntium Team, the outfit boasts over 21 years of international motorsports experience and more than 100 race victories, including the record-breaking four-time consecutive Super Taikyu championship title. 

Officially recognised as a racing car manufacturer to international standards by RACMSA and TOCA UK, DWA was behind the world’s first Ford Mondeo four-cylinder Super Tourer in collaboration with Ford Motorsports and Mountune in 1997 and the Proton Impian Challenger previously ran in the British Touring Car Championship (as the first Southeast Asian team to compete in the BTCC) – all designed, built and developed in-house by DWA in the UK and Malaysia.

Utilising motorsports as a platform for their continuous research and development, DWA translates this valuable expertise into their vehicle maintenance business. Bringing back the experience from BTCC to Asia, DWA Lubricants Pte Ltd was established in 2006 as a subsidiary and is the official distributor for PETRONAS lubricants in Singapore. 

Today, drivers can benefit from DWA’s expertise and skills at its two newly-expanded mega facilities in 2012 – a 20,000-square-feet vehicle city service centre at Sin Ming and a two-storey 18,000-square-feet factory at Loyang for specialised body shop repairs, road sports and race car development.  DWA also renewed its partnership with legendary engine tuner and former BTCC champion Richard Longman to start a purpose-built race engine development and rebuild centre at its new Loyang premises.  

The roots of the Super Taikyu (スーパー耐久) Endurance Race Series started in 1985 with Group A regulations of the Japan Touring Car Championship which ended in 1998. Evolving from the N1 Taikyu Series (that started in 1990), the name "Super Taikyu” was officially created in 2000. As a series, Super Taikyu celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010.