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  Sweet Victory For Tengku Djan, Lotus At Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race  
- Sunday, August 28, 2005  By YS Khong  Bookmark and Share
 
 
 
     
The Amprex Car ld from the very start

Malaysia’s top driver Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel ended a long personal five-year wait to claim the Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) crown; which he described as a big...

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The Amprex Car ld from the very start
The Amprex Car ld from the very start
 

Malaysia’s top driver Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel ended a long personal five-year wait to claim the Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) crown; which he described as a bigger victory for the modified Lotus Exige 300RR than his personal glory.

While he was happy to win the crown for the very first time, Tengku Djan, who also tests Lotus cars, said he was even more happy with the performance of the Exige 300RR, which was only making its second competitive appearance after a disastrous debut at the Malaysian Round of the Super GT Series in Sepang in June.

“There’s plenty of ways to see our performance at the Super GT race. I would not say that it was a disappointment. Instead, it had provided us with plenty of information and knowledge in making the car better than we have seen it today,” said Tengku Djan, who is the Head of Proton Motorsports.

Partnering former Japan GT driver and owner of Amprex Motorsports Genji Hashimoto and Tony Riccirdello of Australia’s V8 Championship, the trio from Proton R3 Amprex Racing Team completed 279 laps of Sepang’s 5.543-km circuit to beat the defending champion from Honda Malaysia Racing.

“I would definitely say this will not be our last win in the MME and instead it will be a start of many,” said Tengku Djan at the MME winners press conference, which was held immediately after the team was presented the challenge trophy by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak last night.

Partnering Norman Simon of Germany to compete in the 300bhp class at the Malaysian Round of the Super GT races, the Proton R3, which is prepared by Proton Motorsports R3 Team, had to retire early due to mechanical problems.

At the 12-hour endurance race yesterday, it was a different Exige 300RR machine as it took an early charge of the proceedings with Riccirdello starting from pole position after all three drivers clocked the fastest time in qualifying.

“We knew that we had the fastest car. So, the main concern was to ensure that it could maintain the lead throughout the 12 hours. /that, we did although it was close in the end,” said Riccirdello, who was making a dream debut in the MME.

It was also a personal achievement for Hashimoto, who had failed miserably in his previous three attempts at the MME in three different GT cars – a Mazda RX7 in 2002; a BMW M3 in 2003 and in a powerful Lamborghini Murceilago last year.

“Now, they cannot call the me the six-hour man anymore,” said Hashimoto in reference to his previous races where he and his Amprex Motorsports Racing Team lasted just six hours of the competition despite being fastest in qualifying and the top speed charts.

“I have always loved this event. So, despite all those poor results, I always wanted to come back to race here. It is good that I finally won it today and hopefully, I will continue winning the MME in the coming years,” said Hashimoto.

For the 2004 champion team, made up of Eddie Lew, Farriz Fauzy and Super GT driver Hiroki Katoh, who competed in the unmodified two-liter Honda Civic I-VTEC, it remained a successful outing.

Completing the race just a lap short of the newly crowned champions, they remained champions in Class A. But, more importantly, Honda Malaysia has added further impetus to motorsports development in Malaysia with the direct participation of more locals in the running of the team.

“We have no complaints about losing the overall title. We were competing against a GT car and obviously, the Lotus has more speed than us. I believe they are going to be even stronger next year. So, we may just need to bring a similarly powered Honda machine if we want the overall title back,” said Eddie.

Seasoned Australians drivers, Mark Eddy, Grant Johnson and Francois Jouy of Gates Racing Team took the Class B title but the biggest story in the battle of the under 1900cc machines is the performance of the all-women’s team from X1-Racing Team.

The partnership of Japan’s Kazumi Mikami, Phillipa Yoong and celebrity Deanna Yusoff did not realise their target of a podium finish. Instead, they managed to take their Satria GTI to the end of the 12-hour race with 244 laps amongst the top six winners for the class.

The battle of machines under 1600cc for Class C was won by the partnership of Chong Fu Seong, Ee Shedden Joon Joon and Harry Chai, who took advantage of the early exit of the defending champions from Superture Motorsports Racing. The challenge of Wong Yew Choong, Soh Kee Boon and Tew Ban Yeap lasted only four hours and 20 minutes before their engine blew in the 82nd lap.

“Obviously, we over-did it in preparing the car and the engine. It just blew. But we will be back. That’s for sure,” said team manager Teck Kean Kang.

OVERALL RESULTS (TOP SIX FINISHERS)
12 hours - Sepang Circuit (5.543km)

OVERALL WINNERS
1. Tony Ricciardello/Genji Hashimoto/Tengku Djan Ley (Lotus Exige 300RR) 279 laps

CLASS O

1. Tony Ricciardello/Genji Hashimoto/Tengku Djan Ley (Lotus Exige 300RR) 279 laps
2. Nicholas Thomas/Clive Bates/Joe Sevack (Porsche 996) 269
3. Firhat Mokhzani/Eric Yeo/TJ Chin (Nissan Skyline R34) 265
4. Patrick Ng/Khoo Beng Swee/Khoo Kay Hong(Lotus 340R) 260
5. Tseu Chan Kee/Faizal Zelman Malik/Wira Dani Daim 253
6. Fahrizaz Hassan/Erwan Azizi/Azizi Yom Ahmad (Mitsubishi Evo 7) 239

CLASS A

1. Hiroki Katoh/Eddie Lew/Farriz Fauzy (Honda Civic 2.0) 278 laps
2. Rueben Wong/Ng Eng Tiong/Jeff Wright (Honda Integra DC5) 266
3. Desmond Soh/Apathorn Karnasuta/Piti Bhirombhakdi (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 266
4. Ryo Michigami/Kunimitsu Takahashi/Tommy Lee (Honda Civic) 253
5. Shirjahan Ghouse/Freddie Chen/Jacky Ng (Honda DC5) 251
6. Jeffrey Wong/JP Chin/TP Chin (Porsche GT3) 251

CLASS B

1. Mark Eddy/Grant Johnson/Francois Jouy (Proton Putra) 250
2. Mal Rose/Peter Leemhuis/Richard Gartner (Proton Putra) 250
3. Shamsul Bahareen/Lim Hock San/Chin Hwa Lip (Satria GTI) 250
4. Khair Nur Ariff/Chung Kum Chew/Nizam Yazet (Satria GTI) 249
5. Choo Yong Choon/Lau Seng Kiat/Azwan Ahmat (Satria GTI) 244
6. Kazumi Mikami/Deanna Yusoff/Phillipa Yoong (Satria GTI) 244

CLASS C

1. Chong Fu Seong/Ee Shedden Joon Joon/Harry Chai (Honda Civic) 248
2. Loo Shok Sian/Wong Tziak Joe/Tan Kok Lam (Honda Civic) 242
3. Lee Soon Sing/Tan Kah Kin/Khoo Chee Yen (Mitsubishi Mirage) 236
4. Thomas Ong/Ee Peck Keong/Ee Peck Kim (Proton Satria) 235
5. Kenny Lee/Tai Choo Wei/Jimmy Ng (Honda Civic) 232
6. Philip Tang/Ong Yeo Han/Gun Kim Seong (Honda Civic) 228





 
 
 
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