DOUBLE CELEBRATION FOR PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM
The weekend at Twin Ring Motegi gave the PETRONAS Syntium Team two significant reasons to be happy: Team principal Dato’ David Wong received the ‘Most Distinguished Order of the Crown of Pahang – Knight Commander’ award from His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Pahang on Thursday, and the team followed up with a 1-2 finish at Round 2 of the Super Taikyu Series 2012.
Held at the Twin Ring Motegi 4.801-kilometre road course, the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1 came in first with sister car #28 40.613 seconds behind in second place. This comes after the team secured its first victory of the season at the opening round of the Series at Fuji Speedway that marked the first Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 win in Japan.
Keeping to the same driver line-up as the previous round, the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1 had Nobuteru Taniguchi, Fariqe Hairuman and Dominic Ang; while #28 ran Masataka Yanagida with Melvin Moh and Jono Lester. The combined best lap times of Fariqe and Ang put #1 in pole position, 0.627 seconds quicker than the combined best lap times of Moh and Lester.
Fariqe started the four-hour race from pole position for car #1, but was swiftly overtaken by Yanagida in #28 at Turn 3 on the first lap. He tried his best to stay close to Yanagida, but during his in-lap for the first pit stop, a minor incident cost him some time when a backmarker from another class hit him and sent him off track briefly. After the first driver change was completed for both cars, Moh at the wheel of car #28 had a 52-second lead but the more experienced Taniguchi hunted Moh down. He managed to overtake Moh for the lead finally, though not without facing a good battle with him first.
Taniguchi pulled a 10-second lead after overtaking Moh, before handing over the driving duties to Ang, who drove the last stint for the first time. Ang did well to stay ahead and took car #1 home safely, 40.613 seconds ahead of Lester in sister car #28, who had to fight very hard after the decision was made to stay on used tyres in an attempt to challenge for victory. Strongest rival KS Frontier BMW Z4 GT3 #16, which clocked the fastest lap of the race, came in third after both PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars.
"The young drivers are developing well and I must say Dominic (Ang) did a good job, delivering lap times that are on par with (Nobuteru) Taniguchi’s. He has the makings of a top GT driver and our team will do our best to aid him in his driver development as much as we can, as with our commitment to give maximum opportunities to all our young drivers,” said Dato’ David Wong, team principal of PETRONAS Syntium Team.
He added, "We faced some strong competition from the BMW Z4 GT3 and the Nissan GT-R GT3 this round, with their lap times quite close to ours. The GT-R encountered some mechanical problems today so they will definitely be faster at the next round, but we will keep working hard to remain on top.”
Round 3 will be held at Sportsland Sugo on 19 – 20 May.
FARIQE HAIRUMAN / No. 1
I was feeling quite nervous before the race – I have started as the first driver before but today I started from pole position. (Masataka) Yanagida started in sister car #28 in P2 and it was a good experience driving against him. After he overtook me at Turn 3 on the first lap, I was able to maintain a small gap between us. During the first half of our stint, the car had really good balance, but the brakes started to give some problems. Then as I was on the in-lap headed for driver change and pit stop, I got hit by a car from another class, causing me to go off track for a while. We lost some time there but it was all good after (Nobuteru) Taniguchi closed the gap to take back the lead and Dominic (Ang) brought it home.
NOBUTERU TANIGUCHI / No. 1
Fariqe (Hairuman) had the lead from the start, but even after losing it, he kept close to (Masataka) Yanagida, which was good. Then he ran into the minor incident with the ST3 car and lost us some time. When I took over the wheel, the gap was 52 seconds from car #28 and I knew I had a difficult task ahead. I tried very hard and eventually I got back the lead and got us back into first place.
DOMINIC ANG / No. 1
This is my first time bringing the car home and I was initially a bit nervous about it, but I’m happy to bring the car safely across the line in first place, especially after all the hard work (Nobuteru) Taniguchi did to close the 52-second lap and pull a 10-second lead before passing over to me. I really want to thank the team and the crew again for their great work, giving an efficient pit stop during my driver change. Round 3 at Sugo is in three weeks’ time and I hope we can carry this momentum to the next race.
MASATAKA YANAGIDA / No. 28
I overtook Fariqe (Hairuman) in sister car #1 to take the race lead and he did a good job, trying his best to stay close behind although the gap widened eventually. Unfortunately, the pace for our second stint wasn’t too quick and we lost the lead back to car #1. In the third and last driver stint, Jono pushed very hard on the used tyres as we decided not to change, but overall car #1 was faster today.
MELVIN MOH / No. 28
I felt it was quite a disappointing race for me today – I lost most of my time dealing with the traffic and I think my pace could have been quicker. However, now I know where my weak points are and I will definitely work on them to improve for the next race. When (Nobuteru) Taniguchi caught up with me, I had a good battle with him for two to three laps before I made a slight mistake at Turn 1 and he got through. (Masataka) Yanagida and Jono (Lester) did a very good job today and for me, I will seek to improve further and fight for the top at the next race.
JONO LESTER / No. 28
We took a late gamble and decided not to change tyres so I could try and close the gap on Dominic (Ang). As a result, I really struggled with my tyres for my entire stint. I pushed very hard and I think I drove well, but it was no match for the new tyre grip of car #1, so we had to settle for second.
TATSUYA KATAOKA / ADVISOR
When (Masataka) Yanagida grabbed the lead and opened up a gap in front, I thought car #28 could win today. But the second stint was when car #28 lost out to (Nobuteru) Taniguchi in car #1. Taniguchi’s pace was very quick as usual, and we could clearly see the skill disparity between him the experienced driver and the young driver. Still, I’m sure it was good for Melvin (Moh) and I believe he learnt a lot from the race today. For Jono’s stint, we tried the tactic of not changing to new tyres and it must have been very difficult to drive, but he did a very good job. I have confidence in his potential.
DATO’ DAVID WONG / TEAM PRINCIPAL
The young drivers are developing well and I must say Dominic (Ang) did a good job, delivering lap times that are on par with (Nobuteru) Taniguchi’s. He has the makings of a top GT driver and our team will do our best to aid him in his driver development as much as we can. We faced some strong competition from the BMW Z4 GT3 and the Nissan GT-R GT3 this round, with their lap times quite close to ours. The GT-R encountered some mechanical problems today so they will definitely be faster at the next round.