12 Hour Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race 2010 – A Photo Journal Part 1 : Racing into the Night
When the 4 lights went green, the thundering sounds of roaring engines broke the usually silent midnight horizon at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC). The sights of men and machines blazing through the darkness – the epitome of endurance racing. Night racing is what separates the man from the boys. It was a battle of fitness and mental toughness, a story of joy and despair, an epiphany of perseverance and persistence. Your body wants to shut down, but your mind forces it to stay awake.
From the spectators point of view, a night race provided something else. Most notably the spitting flames from the cars and the red hot glowing disc brakes. These are the two things that happen all the time during the day, but look more spectacular at night.
And when it comes to spitting flames, the two Lamborghini LP560s of KK Performance Team and Arrows Racing provided the most fireworks.
The two Lamborghini LP560s of KK Performance Team (above) and Arrows Racing (below).
The Porsche 997 RSR of Porsche Club Singapore led the way at the start.
The Porsche 997 RSR of Porsche Club Singapore is clearly the fastest car on the grid. They managed to break away from the competition from the get go and was running away easily at the front. But how many times we’ve seen it before? True to its meaning, endurance racing is not all about speed. It was about crossing the finish line 1st at the end of the race. Mechanical problems struck the 997 RSR before it even the saw the sunlight, and it was the end for Porsche Club Singapore after only 119 laps.
Another Porsche Club Singapore’s entry for the race, the Porsche 997 Cup S driven by Marc Cini, Mark Eddy and M.J. Twigg fared better and survived throughout the night. Unfortunately they were unable to challenge the leaders and was classified 7th at the end of the race.
The Audi R8 LMS under braking into Turn 1, followed closely by the Porsche 997 RSR of Kencana Racing Team.
Audi Race Experience Team Joest showed why they are one of the best in endurance racing, managing the gaps to the leading Porsche and Lamborghinis in the early stage of the race whilst keeping within the striking distance to take advantage of the mishaps happening to the leading cars.
The Audi R8 LMS has the brightest headlamps compared to the other cars. The distinctive bright yellow lamps is easily recognizable, a clever way of getting through the slower backmarkers. The backmarkers won’t have any problem distinguishing the R8 LMS from the rest of the GT Class cars. A few flicks of the headlamps and the message is clear, move out – the R8 is coming through.
Some part of the circuit was very dark and the only way to know what car is coming at you is by listening to the roaring engines or watching the headlamps. The two BMW Z4Ms of Petronas Syntium Team simultaneously trying to get past the Porsche 997 Cup S of LKM Racing Team. Endurance racing or not, there was some intense close racing action. Stranded in the middle, the Porsche 997 Cup S had to give way eventually under braking into Turn 9.
Champions in 2007, Kencana Racing Team had to retire the Porsche 997 RSR with a mechanical failure after only managing 129 laps. Another 997 RSR failing to survive throughout the night. Disappointment for Dato Mokhzani Mahathir, Sven Herberger and MMER debutant Dominik Fambacher.
The VIP Petfoods’ Porsche 997 RSR and the Aston Martin DBRS9 of Craft Racing chasing the Porsche 997 Cup S of Porsche Club Singapore along the front straight.
The two BMW Z4Ms of Petronas Syntium Team occupied the 12th and 13th spot from the 13 cars that took part in the GT Class after qualifying. However, the Z4M is definitely a faster car in the cooler night race condition. Car no. 28 driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida and Imran Zaharias finished the race in 3rd place, a remarkable feat considering the stronger competition they had to face compared to last year’s grid.
The sole Mosler MT900R GT3 of Amac Motorsports running ahead of the VIP Petfoods’ Porsche 997 RSR at the front straight.
2 hours and 30 minutes into the race, disaster struck when a Lotus 2-Eleven caught fire in the pits, injuring a driver and some of the crew menbers of the team. It caused chaos as the marshalls scramble to put the fire out. The fire went as high as the 2nd floor of the pit building and took a while before it was extinguished.
The fact that all is well most of the time doesn’t remove the notion that motorsport is dangerous. Everybody that is involved in the sport knows that perfectly. On the final note, we wish the driver and the crew members involved in the incident a speedy recovery.