The Super Taikyu Series 2013 kicks off at Sportsland Sugo this weekend and the five-time champion PETRONAS Syntium Team is back with its pair of Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars #1 and #28.
Finishing overall first and second last year – with car #1 winning six out of six rounds – the expectation is to win the sixth consecutive title.
Fielding Nobuteru Taniguchi, Dominic Ang and Melvin Moh in the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1, sister car #28 is driven by Tatsuya Kataoka, Jono Lester and Fariqe Hairuman.
Facing increased competition this year, the PETRONAS Syntium SLS AMG GT3 twins qualified for the second row on the starting grid – car #28 starts in P3 and car #1 starts in P4. The race tomorrow will be of a three-hour format and will start at 1350 hours Japan time.
NOBUTERU TANIGUCHI / SLS AMG GT3 #1 – DRIVER A
I was hoping to get a clear lap and push hard for a good timing, but I was unable to find a clear lap during my session. I tried to find space from other cars so I could get an uninterrupted lap but some of the slower lines kept to their line and I lost time getting stuck behind them. Finally I could not get good tyre grip and it’s a great pity.
DOMINIC ANG / SLS AMG GT3 #1 – DRIVER B
I felt that I was not fast enough today. I ran into a bit of traffic during my session and lost a couple of tenths of seconds. I went into qualifying without any expectations and just wanted to drive my best. I’m feeling a bit disappointed as I was quite far off the two GT-Rs in front; I thought I would be able to get close to them at least. Well, it’s a three-hour race so anything can happen.
MELVIN MOH / SLS AMG GT3 #1 – DRIVER C
This weekend is the first time I’m driving car #1, as I was driving car #28 last year. It requires a change in driving style due to the different setup so I had some adjusting to do. Practice yesterday was a lot of learning for me and today’s qualifying was quite good. For sure I believe I can go faster with more driving time, as the car is not what I’m used to.
TATSUYA KATAOKA / SLS AMG GT3 #28 – DRIVER A
I thought my attack was alright – the problem was my tyres, which weren’t warmed up enough. Then I made a small mistake and only managed second fastest for the session. The GT-Rs are very quick on the straight, but if you compare our lap times with them, we aren’t that far off, so I believe that we should do fine for tomorrow's race.
JONO LESTER / SLS AMG GT3 #28 – DRIVER B
I was really happy with my performance today. Our track positioning was 99% on the money and my flyer was capable of ducking into the '20s'. Unfortunately I caught slow traffic into the fast last turn and lost valuable time. "Starting third means we are on the favourable line for the first corner. I will be starting the race in car #28, so it's crucial that I make a strong start and try to gain position early. The Nissans [1st and 2nd qualifiers] have impressive new tyre pace, but the race is a long one. Anything can happen in 3 hours and our car is strong in all situations. Tomorrow's morning forecast is for snow and a wet afternoon. If this comes to fruition, it will be a race of brains and wits.
FARIQE HAIRUMAN / SLS AMG GT3 #28 – DRIVER C
I’m happy to be with (Tatsuya) Kataoka and (Jono) Lester in car #28 for this season. I thought we had quite a strong qualifying today and it marks a good start to the season. Looking at the competition we have this year with more professional GT drivers and more cars, it’s the best we could get for now. There is at least one professional GT driver in each team now, so I think we did good. This is what we want – more competition that will motivate us to strive even harder.
DATO’ DAVID WONG / TEAM PRINCIPAL
Today’s qualifying showed that the competition this year has certainly increased. While we have usually clinched pole position quite comfortably, this time both our cars are starting on the second row. It is good to see that the level of competition has gone up, as this will push everyone to higher standards. The race is a three-hour one tomorrow and a lot remains to be seen. I believe our boys and the crew have what it takes to challenge for the win.