Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tunku Hammam Crowned MMER Champion

Tunku Hammam Tunku Sulong, won his second Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race title as his Arrows Racing Team upstaged the favorites Audi Works Team at Sepang International Circuit last weekend.

The partnership between former European GT3 champion, Christopher Haase and top Dutch driver, Peter Kox, the Arrows Racing Team drove a perfect race to the chequered flag in a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560, although starting from second on the grid, alongside pole sitter, Porsche Club Singapore Racing, led by Mok Weng Sun.

The Audi Race Experience Team Joest, featuring multiple Le Mans winners, Frank Biela and Marco Werner and WTCC driver Daryl O'Young, had to contend themselves with second placing, but vows to return stronger in next year's MMER to complete their mission for the top spot on the podium.

Tunku Hammam, in an interview during the post race conference, stated that the win this year is certainly much competitive as compared to the last one. He was delighted to win the title again, which he won his first title in the 2002 MMER, partnering Tommy Lee and Briton, Nigel Albon for Naza-Jaseri Racing Team.

"It would definitely be much harder if Mok was still in the race. They definitely had the faster car. But, this race is not about out and out speed. It's an endurance race!, he added.

It was heartbreaking for the partnership between Mok Weng Sun, Craig G. Baird and Richard Lietz, in their Porsche RSR, when it had mechanical problems, just after completing 119 laps round the 5.543-kilometre track of the Sepang International Circuit.

The Porsche Club Singapore Racing team started the race from pole position and was already breaking away from their rivals before their car came to a halt due to mechanical problems. The Kencana Racing Team, which also had a promising run, was also forced out by a similar problem with their Porsche machine.

The race was flagged off by Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek at the strike of midnight, joined by Miss Malaysia World Thanuja Ananthan and top singer Faradina Mohd Nadzir.

This year's MMER was filled with drama and suspense, as jinxed Empire Motorsports continued for a third year after their Lotus 2-11 bursts into flames during refueling, bringing their challenge to an abrupt, just after completing 56-laps. The team had faced a similar situation in last year's race, when electrical problems ignited their engine, and in the previous year, 2008, a broken wheel nut in the final hour brought their challenge to an end.

Defending champions, Team PETRONAS Syntium, which had Tatsuya Kataoka, Fariqe Hairuman and Melvin Moh, failed to finish the race, when their BMW Z4M Coupe encountered a mechanical failure just 80-minutes away from the chequered flag.

The Honda Malaysia Racing Team won the Touring Production Class Race, whilst Team Tracy Sports, featuring Masatama Kawaguchi, Masayuki Ueda and Adam Han in their Honda S2000, won the Sports Production Class Category.

Tunku Hammam added at the end of the post race press conference that he hoped to return in next year's MMER, but still unsure, whether it would be the same partnership.

"Hopefully, with these guys again and hopefully, we will get a better car or we can use the same car to race next year.", he added.

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