SEPANG, 26 NOVEMBER 2015 - Powered by the brilliance of three Super Taikyu champions including the reigning 2015 Super Taikyu Champion, Hiroyuki Iiri, Team Riyoz J's Racing Team is the star attraction and hot favourites for the seventh edition of the Sepang 1000km Endurance Race (S1K), which gets underway today.
Iiri, who is also the Japan GT300 champion, will be supported by two-time champion Junichi Umemoto, the 2014 champion Kouichi Okumura and Teruhiko Hamano, who has wide experience in the Super Taikyu series and well as the Nurburgring 24 Hour Endurance Race.
Supported by Pentagon Racing as its local partner, the team, which has just completed the 2015 Super Taikyu season, will be further boosted by their awesome JDM Honda Fit RS machine.
“The race car is the 2015 Super Taikyu Champion car. We are very excited to be part of this team for this great adventure,” commented Chris Tan of Pentagon Racing, which finished second overall in the just concluded Malaysian Championship Series (MCS) with Alan Wong in the Touring Production class.
“In giving our full focus to supporting our Japanese partners, both Alan and I will not be competing this year. We will concentrate fully on providing technical and logistics support to Team Riyoz J's Racing Team,” added Chris.
While acknowledging that the team will have all the necessary components to dominate the 182-lap contest around the 5,543-km track, Chris said that there was still a lot of hard work that needed to be done.
“Sincerely, I would say it is going be a tough race with all the drivers and crew coming all the way from Japan, but we will try our best. There are other really strong teams out there and there’s always that little element of luck in motor racing,” he added.
Defending champion Proton R3 Motorsports, which scored a sensational 1-2 last year, would be among the ones to beat as the factory works team returns with a stronger combination in its bid to retain its crown.
Syafiq Ali, who will be bidding to be the first driver to win the overall title three times this year, will be resuming his partnership with Proton R3 Motorsports team leader, Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel in defending the crown.
The dynamic duo, however, will not be driving last year’s winning Proton Prevé and are instead putting to the test their new Proton Iriz machine, which had performed superbly in the last two rounds of the Malaysian Touring Car (MTC) championship in this year’s Malaysia Championship Series (MCS).
Proton R3 Motorsports’ second pair will be equally impressive with the newly-crowned MTC champion – James Veerapen and Fariqe Hairuman driving their fully-tested winning Proton Suprima S machine.
Both Fariqe and James will be looking for their first individual title and look set to become Syafiq’s biggest threat for his hattrick bid. The two-time Malaysian Super Series (MSS) champion won the S1K crown for the first time in 2012 by partnering former Japan Super GT driver Morio Nitta in a Proton Satria Neo machine.
Commenting on his chances, Fariqe, a seasoned driver with many endurance races under his belt in different parts of the world, expressed confidence of a strong showing in the endurance race and that he and James would be spurred by his glorious run in the MCS.
However, being a season international campaigner, Fariqe, a former Super Taikyu champion himself, was quick to acknowledge that anything is possible in motor racing especially in an endurance race.
“This will be a long race and the main goal is to make it to the finish and finish at the front. We will need to achieve a good balance of speed and reliability and I have confidence that my team has done just that with another strong car prepared for me and James,” added Fariqe, who is a former Asian Tour Car Championship champion.
Another top challenger for this year’s race will be the Kegani Racing Team, which will be powered by the 2010 winners – Malaysian Kenny Lee and Australian Chris O’Shannessy. Driving the team’s lead Suzuki Swift machine, the dynamic duo will be supported by the experienced Nick Mah.
“We have spent numerous hours in engine development. We have big support from TOTAL lubricants, and close collaboration with Super Circuit for the joint development of the M16A engine exhaust system. With T.o.K.B. Café backing us, it has opened up more opportunities for us in our engine and car development. We are definitely aiming for a podium finish in this week’s outing,” said Kenny.
The team’s second Suzuki Swift will be piloted by Mark Wong and ex-Redbull rookies lady driver Geraldine Read.
“I hope to continue gaining more racing experience and the Sepang 1000km is an event not to be missed. I would like to thank my personal sponsors, Lufter - cleanroom builders, Auto Spahaus, Bralt & Maven. I aim to give my best,” said Geraldine, who will be driving the Suzuki Swift for the first time.
Promoted and organised by SIC to spur grassroots development in Malaysia’s motorsports landscape, the event has attracted top Malaysian drivers as well as international racers from Japan, Australia, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
The official free practice for this year’s event is scheduled on Thursday (26 November 2015) with the qualifying session set for the following day on 27 November 2015. The race will be flagged off at 12 noon on Saturday, 28 November 2015.
SEPANG 1000KM ENDURANCE RACE – PAST CHAMPIONS
2014 Proton R3 Motorsports - Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel/Syafiq Ali (Proton Prevé)
2013 Honda Malaysia Racing Team - Aaron Lim/Eddie Lew (Honda Jazz)
2012 Proton R3 Motorsports - Syafiq Ali/Morio Nitta (Proton Satria Neo)
2011 Type R Racing Team – Boy Wong Yew Choong, Soh Kee Koon, Lai Wee Sing (Toyota Altis)
2010 Ultra Racing-Kegani - Kenny Lee/Chris O'Shannessy/Lai Wee Sing (Toyota Levin)
2009 Type R Racing Team – Boy Wong Yew Choong/ Soh Kee Koon/Tek Kean Kang (Honda Integra)