The trio of Tatsuya Kataoka, Fariqe Hairuman and Jono Lester worked hard to dominate much of the race with the SLS AMG GT3 #28, but unfortunately lost the lead in the closing minutes, allowing sister car #1 of Nobuteru Taniguchi, Dominic Ang and Melvin Moh to cross the finish line first instead.
SUPER TAIKYU SERIES 2013
Rd.3 TWIN RING MOTEGI
For Immediate Release
PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM MAINTAINS CONSISTENCY FOR 1-2 FINISH AT TWIN RING MOTEGI
• PETRONAS Syntium Team scores 1-2 finish at five-hour race at Twin Ring Motegi
• The PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 car #1 started in P4 to take the win after five hours
• Sister car #28 was leading much of the race until the last three laps when brake wear cost them the win.
• PETRONAS Syntium Team continues to lead the Super Taikyu championship
Japan, 21 July 2013 – Riding high from sweet success in Korea and the championship lead, the PETRONAS Syntium Team was eager to build on the momentum. Facing stiff competition from the Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R #24 and the GTNet Nissan GT-R #81 which had outright speed, the PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #28 and #1 qualified third and fourth respectively. Nonetheless, the five-time Super Taikyu champion team exercised their endurance racing experience well and came out tops at the end of five hours on the 4.801km Twin Ring Motegi road course. The trio of Tatsuya Kataoka, Fariqe Hairuman and Jono Lester worked hard to dominate much of the race with the SLS AMG GT3 #28, but unfortunately lost the lead in the closing minutes, allowing sister car #1 of Nobuteru Taniguchi, Dominic Ang and Melvin Moh to cross the finish line first instead.
Confidence ran high in the team despite starting the race from the second row on the grid. Pole-sitter Nissan GT-R #24 had a problem and had to start from the pit lane, giving the team one less obstacle. However, the Endless Advan Porsche 997 #3 got a good start and managed to get into P2 ahead of the SLS AMG GT3 cars after the first corner. As the first stint progressed, it became a three-way battle for the lead between Lester in the SLS AMG GT3 #28, GT-R #81 and the Porsche #3. Ang was running in fourth and then the safety car was deployed, bringing the field back together.
Shortly after the restart, the Porsche #3 managed to overtake the GT-R #81 for the lead, leaving Lester to chase the GT-R for second place. Lester and the GT-R came into the pits together for the first driver change, but it was the SLS AMG GT3 #28 that exited first, with Fariqe at the wheel. Hunting down the race leader Porsche #3, Fariqe overtook it for the lead after 60 laps. Meanwhile, Moh took over the driving duties from Ang and was in pursuit of the race leaders.
Retaining the lead after the second driver change, Kataoka drove well to widen the gap from the rest of the field. Taniguchi faced a little delay during the takeover from Moh, but managed to catch up with the Porsche #3 and take third place behind the GT-R #81. Before he handed the car back to Ang for the final drive, he had already gotten the SLS AMG GT3 #1 into second place.
Getting back into the SLS AMG GT3 #28 for the last stint, Lester pulled ahead with the lead, gunning for the chequered flag. With a 30-second gap between the two SLS AMG GT3 cars, Ang tried his best to catch up, while making sure he did not allow the next car to come close. Everything was running smoothly until the last four minutes of the race when Lester experienced extreme brake wear at 245km/h and spun off the track. Fortunately he got back on track and managed to resume the race, finishing second behind his team-mate in #1.
Dato’ David Wong, Team Principal of PETRONAS Syntium Team, said, "Evidently, we have witnessed for ourselves today that a race is only over when the chequered flag has been taken. Also, having the speed in qualifying is not enough as an endurance race is about knowing how to stay consistent from the start to the end. We were lucky to finish first and second today, and to keep the championship lead. The goal is still on clinching our sixth consecutive Super Taikyu title and every step towards that is important.”
The 2013 Super Taikyu season is a highly competitive one with a full grid of 45 cars across six classes. The PETRONAS Syntium Team faces six other teams in the eight-car GT3 category. With the cancellation of the first round at Sugo, the series has been revised to six rounds, with Korea as the season opener. Thereafter, the series headed to Motegi in July, before Fuji and Okayama in August, Suzuka in September and Autopolis in November. The next round will be a seven-hour race at Fuji Speedway on 10 – 11 August.
NOBUTERU TANIGUCHI / No. 1
I had many hard tasks on my stint. First I had to catch the Porsche #3 and then I had to chase the GT-R #81. After that I started to create a gap for (Dominic) Ang so it would help him on the last stint. Of course, I managed to maintain the car condition, especially the brake pads. The race went well and finally our car #1 got a big bonus. It was really nice to win because I recognise that car #28 was very quick this round. Our car was fortunate to win the race today and I’m happy.
DOMINIC ANG / No. 1
This is the first win for our new team structure for our car #1. We were not expecting the win because car #28 had it in the bag already. It’s a shame as they should have won after leading for three-quarters of the race. I was trying to catch up with (Jono) Lester during my final stint and I did my best to improve from the first stint, and also not let the GT-R #81 to get close. We got lucky at the end – car #28 deserved the win. Well, this is racing and you won’t know until the chequered flag falls.
MELVIN MOH / No. 1
To be honest, it’s not great to win the race like this and I feel sorry for car #28. This win should have been theirs. During my stint I got stuck behind the GT-R #24, which was a backmarker, and lost a lot of time. That was my mistake. I felt I gave a consistent drive but there is still big room for improvement. I look forward to Fuji.
TATSUYA KATAOKA / No. 28
The result is quite a pity today. I managed to maintain the tyres and brake pads for victory and we saw (Jono) Lester and Fariqe (Hairuman) with their quick pace and progress in the race. However, Lester could not keep a high pace to the end and made a mistake finally. I hope he learns a lot from today and improves from here. On another note, today’s race has shown that our car #28 is strong against the GT-Rs, so I hope for a better result for the next race at Fuji, which is seven hours!
FARIQE HAIRUMAN / No. 28
My stint was during the hottest time of the day and I had to fight with both the Porsche #3 and the GT-R #81 for a while. Overall I’m happy to see my lap times improve as I got faster and more consistent with each lap. Too bad we lost the lead in the last five minutes of the race, but thankfully (Jono) Lester managed to get back on track and finish in second place.
JONO LESTER / No. 28
Today was a lesson about the race not being over until the chequered flag. Every element of our race went perfectly until the last five minutes. In the late stages of the race I had a couple of indications that we were running out of brakes. Naturally I backed off to save them, but it was too little, too late and I completely lost the brakes altogether. That threw me off the track at high speed and it was an incredibly scary moment. We were very lucky to get going again and salvage points to keep the championship lead.
DATO’ DAVID WONG / TEAM PRINCIPAL
Evidently, we have witnessed for ourselves today that a race is only over when the chequered flag has been taken. Also, having the speed in qualifying is not enough as an endurance race is about knowing how to stay consistent from the start to the end. We were lucky to finish first and second today, and to keep the championship lead. The goal is still on clinching our sixth consecutive Super Taikyu title and every step towards is important.
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