Kuala Lumpur - Sep 01, 2003 - The Crest Jaseri Porsche Racing team comprising Alex Yoong, Dato Mokhzani Mahathir and Faisal Hakimi had their bid to win the 2003 Merdeka Millenium Endurance 12 Hr. race terminated in the final hour by a one-tonne ...
Kuala Lumpur - Sep 01, 2003 - The Crest Jaseri Porsche Racing team comprising Alex Yoong, Dato Mokhzani Mahathir and Faisal Hakimi had their bid to win the 2003 Merdeka Millenium Endurance 12 Hr. race terminated in the final hour by a one-tonne Honda Civic "missile" when the Honda driven by Azman Hussin lost all brakes and tee-boned at more than 200 kph into the Porsche GT3 with Yoong at the wheel. The incident happened at Turn 15 of Sepang International Circuit's longest back straight, only forty minutes before the end of the race held over last weekend.
Yoong, who walked away from the horrific accident which wrote off the Porsche was, however, transferred by the circuit's medical team to the PutraJaya Hospital for a CT scan when the circuit doctor ruled that Yoong had suffered from a concussion when he couldn't recall why he was in a race suit and driving a touring car, nor any details of the past week. The CT Scan later showed that Yoong had suffered bruising to the frontal lobe of his brain. He was admitted and later transferred to the Pantai Medical centre in Kuala Lumpur under the care of a neurosurgeon there for observation.
"Alex was conscious throughout and, in fact, very candid about whatever was happenning there and then but had no recollection of the entire week before the accident and what really concerned me also was that he would not recall what he said or heard or saw a few seconds later," said his father, Hanifah Yoong, who was with him throughout the period from after the accident until he was admitted after the tests. He was relieved however that, though the gaps to his son's memory were huge, they were all due to short-term memory loss. At the same time, the neurosurgeon had assured Alex that there was no internal bleeding or shearing and the brain bruising will recover quickly with rest.
Fifteen hours of rest after admission, Alex had made improvement and had begun to piece together the jig-saw of what happened in the past week. Although he still had no recollection of the accident and other events are still hazy to him, he was relieved that the it was no fault of his own nor the driver of the car that caused the accident.
The Crest Jaseri Porsche led the 77-car field midway through the 12-hour race and had run in the top-3 through most of the 250 laps into the last hour. Team manager, Gary Khor said, "Yoong, Mokhzani and Hakimi did a sterling job and were poised to win even though we were lying third into the final hour, as Yoong had the final stint and we had done our final stop while the 2 cars ahead of us needed to make one more stop with us only a lap behind in third. Unfortunately, the accident kept the Crest Jaseri team from realising our goal, but we are very glad that Yoong is on the road to recovery and the other driver was, happily, not seriously injured."
The Crest Jaseri Porsche team was also the only team that had to make two brake pad changes in the race as the new brake pads didn't arrive in time for the race. The first change was made in the 7th hour, which resulted in the team relinquishing its lead, when the team changed brake pads well past their race-life for another set of used brake pads. The new pads finally arrived at the circuit when the race was in its 9th hour and the team made the second change. "The fact that the drivers also had to nurse the car with brake pads well past their useful life and lost a lap from the additional brakes change also spoke volumes for the team's performance." added Khor.
The race was won by Firhat Mokhzani/Eric Yeo/TJ Chin in a G1 MeritusPorsche GT3 while Nigel Albon/Craig Albon/Tunku Hammam Tunku Sulong in a Naza-Porsche GT3 was second and followed home by Takahashi Kunimitsu/Hiroki Kato/Hidetoshi Mitsusada in a Honda Racing-Integra DC5.
Alex Yoong's younger sister, Phillipa Yoong, who also took part in the race under the 1800cc class in a Projet Proton Satria GTI with an all-ladies' driver crew partnering Deanna Yusof, Maznah and Maya finished in a creditable 38th overall position out of 77 starters and 9th in their class of 24 cars.