France lays claim to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Germany boasts the 24 hours of Nurburgring and the UAE has the Dubai 24 Hours. Here in Southeast Asia, Malaysia represents the marathon motorsport segment with the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race, one of the country’s premier sporting events and biggest races in the region.
A strong international following draws spectators from around the globe, with increasing popularity each year, as they converge on Sepang International Circuit to witness drivers tested to the max as they push pedal to metal on the 5.54km track. A combination of sweeping corners, wide straights and tight hairpins make for an unusually demanding circuit layout, amplifying the stress drivers experience during racetime.
Despite working in teams of three, with drivers racing for a maximum of 70 minutes per shift, each individual must maintain complete and utter focus throughout the 12 hours, tracking the progress of both cars and drivers. A delicate balancing act of fuel conservation, car maintenance, tyre upkeep and smooth transitions means that strategy plays an equal if not greater part than speed.
A range of cars are eligible to race, from the modest Honda Civic to the powerful Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 GT3, with last year’s event seeing a host of Japanese teams in souped-up muscle cars fighting for pole position. In the end, the Petronas Syntium team successfully defended their title, securing the first two places with a total of 319 laps and 317 laps respectively. For the second year running, the Malaysian Independence Day was made extra special with this one, two win by the reigning local champions, in the gull-winged Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.
The burning question now is, can Petronas Syntium, winners of the “Best Racing Performance” award at the AMG Customer Sports Season Finale, make it a hat trick, topping the leader board for a third consecutive year and create history in so doing? Can they secure a sixth overall Super Taikyu crown? With these titles on the line, the pressure has been ramped up dramatically, with the team carrying the weight of the country on their shoulders. So buckle up and hold tight – this year’s race is a real nail biter.
Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race
Where Sepang International Circuit
When 29-31 August
Tel 03 2051 7008