G1-Meritus victorious in thrilling Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race at Sepang, Malaysia Easy does it - that was how car 17 of G1-Meritus Racing took the win in the 12 hour Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race (MME), in celebration of the Day of ...
G1-Meritus victorious in thrilling Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race at Sepang, Malaysia
Easy does it - that was how car 17 of G1-Meritus Racing took the win in the 12 hour Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race (MME), in celebration of the Day of Independence for Malaysia. The trio of drivers Firhat Mokhzani, Eric Yeo and TJ Chin brought their Porsche 911 GT3 safe and sound to the end of the race, suffering no major problems, which was the secret on the day.
Although they were lapping up to 10 seconds slower than the fastest cars, their efficient use of fuel, tyres and brakes meant they pitted less and suffered no delays for repairs. Porsche dominated the day, finishing in the top two spots, with the Naza Racing car chasing the G1-Meritus boys right to the end, finishing 3 laps behind. The newcomer Radical of BSA Motorsports finished third, and was fastest on the day but had mechanical problems.
It would have been a 1-2-3 for the German marque except for an unfortunate final hour incident which saw ex-F1 driver Alex Yoong t-boned out of third place by a back-marker whose brakes had failed. Both drivers were taken to hospital for examination with suspected concussion. This brought out the safety car, adding a final twist to an already action packed race.
Already coming to the end of his final stint, Mokhzani of G1-Meritus dove into the pits as soon as he saw the safety car signal, even before he saw his pit crew signalling him. This allowed the team to make their final driver change and top up the tank while all the other cars were held up behind the safety car. As an added piece of luck, the G1-Meritus car got back out onto the track just before the pit lane was closed (for the safety car), which locked their closest rivals Naza Racing in a traffic jam waiting to get back into the race after their pit stop.
With just 30 minutes to go, there was no way the quicker lapping Naza could catch up the 3 lap deficit, handing G1-Meritus the win on a day that team strategy beat outright speed.
"I cannot describe how I feel," said Mokhzani after the race. "Once we took the lead with about 3 hours to go, I really didn't think we'd be able to hold onto it. But we just kept doing what we'd been doing all race, and in the end it paid off," he added.
"Of course we must thank our team, for preparing such a great car and for getting us through the race without a single hitch. We obviously picked the right strategy, and we stuck to it," said Yeo. "I hope this win will increase the awareness of our other goal in this race, which is to raise funds for UTAR," he added. The money will go to the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), and to make a donation cheques should be made out to "Huaren Education Foundation (UTAR)" and sent to Maxiclass Sdn Bhd, 3/f Bangunan AHP, Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 3, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, 60000 KL, Malaysia. Tel: +603 77128688 or visit www.MeritusRacing.com
G1-Meritus' third driver, nineteen year-old TJ Chin made history by becoming the youngest ever winner of the MME. "This is the first anniversary of my racing career, because I started racing at last year's MME, so to win class O is incredible. This will definitely rate as one of my best wins for the rest of my career," said the ecstatic Chin. Chin is currently competing against the greatest F1 hopefuls of Asia in the AFOS Formula BMW Asia Championship, also with Team Meritus, who have sealed the Team Championship with 4 races still to go.
"I must thank my dad [JP Chin] for creating the team, Dato Azman for his invaluable guidance, and Aminudia Omar for supplying us with such a great car. This was actually the car that won last year's MME, so I think Amin will be keeping hold of it!" Chin concluded.
"I must admit the win came as a bit of a surprise to us. We were aiming for a podium, but as the end drew nearer, I couldn't help picturing our guys on the top step. The last 20 minutes were the most difficult to endure, but now we'll have a lifetime of memories," said Paul Thompson, Team Manager for G1-Meritus.
"I always knew the GT3s were great cars in endurance, but under such hot conditions, over 12 hours, to not have a single major fault is incredible. I really have to hand it to our drivers for taking such good care of the car while remaining competitive," said chief engineer Mike Foster, who races the GT3 in the Porsche Cup UK, most recently winning the championship with Team Eurotech.