SIX-TIME SUPER TAIKYU CHAMPION PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM RETIRES
• PETRONAS Syntium Team retires after achieving sixth consecutive Super Taikyu title in 2013
• Team Principal Dato’ David Wong retires from motor racing after 23 years
• Partnership between PETRONAS and Team Principal Dato’ David Wong started in 1990
• Team PETRONAS has raced across the world in the UK, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and more
SINGAPORE, 25 November 2013 – Dato’ David Wong, Team Principal of PETRONAS Syntium Team, announces the retirement of the team and its operations with effect from 31 December 2013. The 23-year partnership between Dato’ David Wong and PETRONAS in motor racing has culminated on a high note with a solid record of over 100 race victories, including six consecutive Super Taikyu titles, winner of the Tokachi 24 Hours, 24 Hours of Dubai class champion and a three-time 12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) winner.
Amid the successful racing accolades, the PETRONAS Syntium Team has also developed young driving talents from Malaysia to become champions in Asia and Japan. Over the past six years, the team has been effectively grooming rookies from the driver development programme, giving young drivers the opportunity to race alongside and learn from professional GT drivers.
Dato’ David Wong said, "After 23 long and demanding years, which were sometimes challenging, always exciting and definitely most fulfilling, I have decided to retire the PETRONAS Syntium Team. As I look forward to having much needed time to concentrate on other ventures, retiring our team comes with some sadness in leaving the invigorating motorsports arena. However, we rejoice in all our successes and chose to retire at a high point. Together with PETRONAS, we have travelled so many countries, participated in countless races, enjoyed many highs, albeit mixed with some disappointments that have only made us stronger through the years. I am very proud of the achievements we have and, hopefully, our successes in motor racing will inspire others to emulate.
"I have had the privilege of having had some of the best professional drivers race for me, and am also very proud to have groomed many rookie drivers into champions. I am glad to have created and given opportunities to those with a passion in motor racing. Since we started back in 1990, many people have travelled with us on our most exciting journey at some point or other. I would like to thank each and every one of you who has contributed to the team in the past two decades in one way or another. We have grown together as a team and we would not have made it this far without the hard work and dedication of every single member of the family. I would also like to thank all the followers and fans of PETRONAS Syntium Team for their support. Lastly, to the countless friends that I have made over the years, you will know that even as I bid you farewell, racing is always in my heart.”
Anita Azrina Abdul Aziz, head of motorsports for PETRONAS, commented, "This has indeed been an exciting and enriching journey for both PETRONAS and PETRONAS Syntium Team. Over the years, both parties have benefitted from this collaboration whether through business expansion, product development or opportunities to compete in more challenging environments. There have been trials and there have been triumphs. But as many Super Taikyu titles we’ve won together attest, these experiences have only made us stronger.”
She added, "We are proud to have been associated with a team that constantly sought to put their capabilities to test. From their beginnings in Johor, Malaysia, they pursued greater challenges and competed in more demanding races in South Africa, the famed British Touring Car Championship and various competitions in Japan, taking Malaysian talents with them across the seas. Their significant role in developing Malaysian youths in motorsports also deserves credit as an important contribution to the local sporting industry, each time proving their competitive edge by bagging championship titles countless times in various races around the world. Although this long-term partnership has now come to a natural end, we thank the team for the experience shared, the relationship that we’ve built and for their commitment, hard work and friendship. On behalf of PETRONAS, we wish them all the best for the future.”
Rizal Abdullah, award-winning Malaysian senior sports journalist with almost 40 years of reporting experience in the field, now retired after his last stint at Malaysia’s leading English daily The Star, shares his thoughts on the retirement. He said, "Dato’ David Wong is a man who lives for motorsports. He is so passionate about motorsports that he will do anything for something that is so close to his heart. Dato’ David, who made the racing tracks his second home, will be greatly missed by the motor racing fraternity. I have worked with him, both locally and overseas, and saw how he treats the team like his own family. For him nothing is impossible and the best can be achieved if you have the passion, dedication and commitment. These are the disciplines that have brought PETRONAS Syntium Team the desired results.
Founded and run by DWA Motorsports, Dato’ David Wong set up his racing team under the PETRONAS name and took it into touring car and superbike racing in 1990. They raced in Malaysian and Asian saloon car events under the names Team PETRONAS Mach 5 and Team PETRONAS Primax, before being renamed to Team PETRONAS Syntium Opel in 1999 when they collaborated with Opel Motorsport South Africa.
In 2002, the team became known as PETRONAS Syntium Proton Team, entering the world’s premier touring car series – the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Alan Gow, BTCC Series Director, said, "The BTCC would like to thank PETRONAS Syntium Proton Team (as it was called then) for their participation in the Championship and would welcome Dato’ David Wong back if he comes out of retirement.”
Peter Riches, BTCC Technical Director and member of the FIA Touring Car Technical Working Group, first met Dato’ David Wong in Australia when the team was racing in the Australian Super Touring Championship. "It soon became apparent that David wanted to be the first team from Asia to compete in the BTCC. In 2001 the BTCC adopted new regulations and with a level playing field, David saw this as an opportunity to realise this ambition. He duly become the first and (to date) only team from Asia to compete in the BTCC with a car that the team had to design and build,” Riches recalled.
He continued, "Committing to a three-year programme was a major decision and the team had to set up a complete operation based in the UK to design and build a world standard Proton Impian to compete against full manufacturer teams. In the first year the team achieved four podiums which was a remarkable feat. DWA Motorsports remains the only Asian touring car manufacturer approved by the BTCC organiser TOCA. It has been a pleasure assisting David in setting up his BTCC team and supporting him in his racing activities since.”
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.
Taking on the name of PETRONAS Syntium Team, the team then moved to Japan to race in the Super Taikyu Series from 2007 onwards. From just one BMW Z4M and two drivers, the team expanded to two Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars and six drivers. It was PETRONAS Syntium Team who made the debut of the highly sought-after SLS AMG GT3 in the region in 2011, successfully inking the books of history by clinching the overall victory of the MMER. This marked the SLS AMG GT3's first ever victory in long-distance endurance racing worldwide and PETRONAS Syntium Team was rewarded for its achievement with the "Best Racing Performance" award at the AMG Customer Sports Season Finale 2011.
In 2012, at the annual AMG Customer Sports Season Finale held at AMG’s headquarters in Affalterbach, the PETRONAS Syntium Team was awarded the coveted ‘CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE’ for its achievement in the Super Taikyu Series with an overall 1-2 finish.
NOBUTERU TANIGUCHI / JAPAN
Drove for PETRONAS Syntium Team from 2008 to 2013
Super Taikyu Series Champion 2008 to 2013
Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race Winner 2009, 2011 & 2012
I joined PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM in 2008 and I am very happy to win my sixth consecutive Super Taikyu title with the team this year. I’ve been driving the team’s car #1 for the six years I’ve been on the team and it has been a wonderful experience. Being part of the team was a unique opportunity and I really thank everyone in the team, especially Dato' David Wong, for valuing the drivers.
I’m glad to have guided the team’s young drivers over the years. My goal has always been to win and I’ve made the effort to unify the team while developing young drivers and winning endurance races with them. Driving for this team has improved my driving and allowed me to progress further professionally. I gained valuable experience and raced at major events such as the 12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race and the Dubai 24 Hours race. I have collected many good memories with the team, including the PETRONAS staff in Malaysia. It is a shame that the team will be dissolved, but I am thankful for everything.
TATSUYA KATAOKA / JAPAN
Drove for PETRONAS Syntium Team from 2008 to 2013
Super Taikyu Series Champion 2008
Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race Winner 2009
I have been with PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM for six years and time has flown by quickly. I got the opportunity to be part of a top team with amazing cars like the BMW Z4M and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, racing against top-level competitors. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of the staff, especially Dato' David Wong.
I won the Super Taikyu championship title with Nobuteru Taniguchi and Johan Adzmi in my first season with the team back in 2008. From 2009 onwards, I took on a different role, to help coach the young drivers, racing alongside them. These gave me new and wonderful experiences as a racing driver. Definitely, I would like to race more with them, but the team has decided to retire. It is a great pity but I want to say thank you very much for the chance to gain such valuable experience.
MASATAKA YANAGIDA / JAPAN
Drove for PETRONAS Syntium Team from 2007 to 2012
Super Taikyu Series Champion 2009 to 2011
Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race Winner 2011 & 2012
First of all, I want to say thank you for the great work over the past seven years in Japan. I feel honoured that Dato'David Wong chose me to be on his team. I am really very fortunate for this opportunity to work with PETRONAS Syntium Team in Japan. I have the best memories with this team – we had many victories, and we also struggled through plenty of mechanical troubles, especially in our first Super Taikyu season in 2007. That year, we did not have too good results but we never gave up and we kept working at our goal, knowing that we would produce better results than the last race. Finally, the team bonded well and together, we became stronger.
I’ve learnt a lot with this team and made steady progress in my driving. Many people have helped me to get to where I am now, including Dato’ David Wong. I am happy that many young Malaysian drivers have developed well with this team and I hope that someday we will have opportunity to work together again.
FARIQE HAIRUMAN / MALAYSIA
Drove for PETRONAS Syntium Team from 2001 to 2013
Super Taikyu Series Champion 2009 & 2012
Asian Touring Car Champion 2007
This is a very sad piece of news to hear from the team. Of course, I was hoping that we would continue racing again next year, but as we know, every beginning comes to an end. The journey has been full of excitement and joy, and we have achieved so many wins over the last 13 years I have been with the team.
Dato' David Wong changed my life – he made a boy’s dream come true, spotting me and developing me into a race driver. He is my Godfather and no words can describe how much I appreciate him in my life. From the first day I entered motorsports, he has always been there to support me in many ways. We have flown to so many countries and brought back wins for most of the races. I am very happy to be part of a winning team as their longest-serving driver. I would like to thank Dato’ and PETRONAS for being there with me all the way. Without them, Fariqe Hairuman would have been nothing more than a kampung boy.
DOMINIC ANG / MALAYSIA
Drove for PETRONAS Syntium Team from 2011 to 2013
Super Taikyu Series Champion 2011 to 2013
Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race Winner 2011 & 2012
I would like to thank PETRONAS, Dato’ David Wong, the crew and the rest of my team-mates for the opportunity to develop my racing career in Japan the last four years. It has been a great journey with the team, achieving three Super Taikyu titles and two MMER wins – undoubtedly the highlights of my short driving career so far. To be able to team up with top Japanese drivers like Masataka Yanagida, Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka is a great learning experience – their advice and guidance has significantly contributed towards my growth to become a top driver.
Driving Car #1 with Yanagida, Taniguchi and Moh has been a fun and great experience. This year, the Super Taikyu title was a little more special with much tougher competition. It is a shame that we can't continue racing together as PETRONAS Syntium Team anymore, but there will always be new possibilities in the future. I also want to thank our team manager Gen Suzuki for his hospitality, as well as Tetsuo Suzuki and Niklas Thomassen for all the help in car setup and data study.
MELVIN MOH / MALAYSIA
Drove for PETRONAS Syntium Team in 2010, 2012 – 2013
Super Taikyu Series Champion 2013
After winning the championship this year, it is unfortunate that we will not be racing anymore next season. Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed my time with the team and I want to thank each and every member of the team for their support. More importantly, I want to thank Dato’ David Wong for the opportunities and support he has provided me with. Without him, I would not be where I am today.
JONO LESTER / NEW ZEALAND
Drove for PETRONAS Syntium Team in 2012 & 2013
It is a sad day to see the retirement of the PETRONAS Syntium Team, but all good things must come to an end. There is little more the team could have achieved during its time in Japan, and to have been a part of that for the past two years was an absolute privilege.
For this, I extend my gratitude to Dato’ David Wong and the senior team management for giving me the opportunity to develop my skills as a driver and race with Asia’s most successful racing team. I hope to continue my GT career in Asia and work with DWA Motorsports in the future.
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