After 13 years of grooming local champions, PETRONAS through Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton (Team PSP) will finally see its first local representative in the competitive world of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Twenty-year-old Fariqe Hairuman will form part of Team PSP's all-new driver line-up for the 2004 BTCC season.
The move is in line with PETRONAS' commitment to introduce and promote young local talents in top-flight international motorsport, and Fariqe will be one of Team PSP's two new drivers for the 2004 BTCC season. He will start testing in the UK immediately after the end of the 2003 BTCC season.
Team PSP is set to challenge for podium honours with an all-new car and an entirely new driver line-up. It is currently evaluating a number of drivers for the second driver slot, scheduled to be announced later this year.
Team Principal of Team PSP, David Wong said: "We at Team PSP look forward to having the first Malaysian driver to participate in BTCC. Fariqe has proven to be a fast and very promising driver in touring car competition in this region. This is a great opportunity for him and a matter of great pride for all Malaysian motorsport enthusiasts."
He continued: "As for David Leslie and Phil Bennett, we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their relentless support and contribution to Team PSP and wish them every success in their future careers."
Fariqe's familiarisation programme in the UK will be assisted by seasoned International Race Instructor and mentor Richard Lester who also operates the Manfeild Circuit in New Zealand. Fariqe will test at selected UK BTCC circuits during the remainder of 2003 and will also assist in the development of the 2004 Team PSP Proton Impian racer.
Fariqe said: "This is a big step forward for me and I am very proud to be the first Malaysian in BTCC. I look forward to pitting myself against the established names in this fantastic series."
Fariqe is a naturally gifted racecar driver, and his entry into the high profile world of international Touring Car racing has been somewhat of a fairy tale. Scouts alerted David Wong to the keen youngster who was given the chance to prove himself on the track. His instant turn of speed and uncanny car control rewarded the team's judgement and quickly had learned heads nodding in agreement.
Fariqe's out-of-the-box skill and youthful exuberance now only need to be tempered by the rigours of international competition. Already achieving winning and podium performances in NZ Saloon Cars, Asian Touring Cars and Malaysian Super Saloons, Fariqe will soon be testing Team PSP's Proton Impian BTCC challenger on UK circuits.