allcarschannel PROTON R3 DEFENDS MME TITLE27 August 2006

The seventh edition Merdeka Millenium Endurance (MME) ran with a full grid of 77 cars representing respective classes of O, A, B and C at the Sepang International Circuit.

At exactly 12.07am on 27 August, the race started when Finance Minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcob flagged off the competing 77 cars.
All 77 runners immediately powered off the grid with deafening roar along the pitlane.
Pole sitter, Team Proton R3’s Tengku Djan (above right) lead all runners into turn 1 along with the other 76 cars.
HMRT’s Car 27 and Car 26 in 7th and 11th position on the grid (below right) were quickest off the block, with Car 26 driver Shinya Hosokawa moving up three positions to eighth, while Car 27 driver Hiroki Katoh maintained seventh into the first lap of the race (as seen on the score board below left).
The first tweny laps of the race was competitively contested among the mid-runners, meanwhile, at the front Djan’s Lotus Exige extended his lead as the laps piled up.
But, on lap 30, the heavens opened up and rain poured onto the track at approximately 3am which created chaos for everybody. Almost the entire field had to pit to change to wet tyres. The front runners pitted promptly and resumed their leading positions while chaotic pitstops were seen at several pit boxes.

As the rain dwindled, driver and tyre change were apparent. Most teams’ stops were smoother this time around and the pits was a busy place. At the halfway mark, the lead was still held by Proton R3 followed by Jaseri Racing (Porsche GT3, below left) and G1 Racing (Nissan Skyline, below right), further back, Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT) lead Class A, Danville Motorsport was on top in Class B while Team Petronas was head and shoulders above other Class C competitors.
As the competitors survived through the night, it was evident that the pitcrews were restless and anxious in the pitlane. In the morning, several cars had already retired due to accidents, driver exhaustions and mechanical faults.

One of them was the X-1R Red Bull Racing men’s squad of Hafizy, Alizan and Halim, who damaged the Satria R3 heavily after a crash into the barriers(right).
Meanwhile, the particular leaders in each class lead comfortably and drove at their respective pace.
However three quarters into the race, HMRT’s car 26 – which was in second position in Class A – was involved in an accident in Lap 206 on Turn 7, causing major damages to the car.

Driver Shinya Hosokawa managed to drive the car back to the pits for repairs and the HMRT crew worked frantically to get the car back out on track(left). HMRT’s Car 26 was able to continue racing despite the setback.
In the last 10 laps, the overall leader was the Lotus Exige driven by Djan / Faidzil Alang / Damien French(above left).

Second place was the Nissan Skyline Nurburgring-spec of TJ Chin / Eric Yeo / Firhat Mokhzani(above right) and third Datuk Mokhzani / Tommy Lee / Sven Herberger (right).
In Class A, the Honda Civic car 27 (left) held first followed by the teams from HKS Garage Team and G1-JPM Team.

In Class B, Danville Motorsport held the lead, while Class C was dominated by Team Petronas’s car 99.
Into the last lap, Team Proton R3 took each corner with slight precautions, and finally crossed the finish line to successfully retain their Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) title, and became the first team to win the coveted title twice on Sunday afternoon.
Their driver, Tengku Djan celebrated his second consecutive winners’ medal, having won with the same machine and a different drivers line-up last year.
Djan with his new partners Faidzil Alang and Australian Damien French took the Lotus Exige 300RR (Car 12) over 271 laps with a best lap of 2:16.884 around the 5.543-km Sepang Circuit in the 12-hour endurance race.
In a close fight with Jaseri Racing Team and G1 Racing throughout the race, Djan, however, failed to break the team’s record of 279 laps set last year, which he achieved with Super GT driver Genji Hashimoto and Tony Riccirdello of the Australian V8 Series.
Djan (right) commented, “Obviously, we are happy with the results today and to become the first time to defend the MME overall title. With this win, however, our emphasis for next year would be to ensure success by using Class B and Class C cars.”
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2003 overall winner comprising Firhat Mokhzani, Chin Tzer Jinn and Eric Yeo (left), who drove a specially prepared Nissan Skyline R34G (Car 17), was second after having completed 268 laps.

They finished just ahead of the Jaseri Racing Team trio of 3-time MME champion Tommy Lee, Sven Herberger and Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir who had completed 268 laps as well.
Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT) continued their domination in Class A having secured their fourth win in a row.
The partnership of Eddie Lew, Farriz Fauzy and Super GT driver Hiroki Katoh (right) scored a hattrick for themselves as well.
The team demonstrated their “Challenging Spirit” to the hilt as both HMRT Car 27 and Car 26 took Class A top honors and eighth position respectively.
Despite an accident at the final interval of the race, HMRT Car 26 rejoined the race after restoration in the pits to finish the race in a credible 8th position, having completed 209 laps.
HMRT Drivers for Car 26, Shinya Hosokawa, Rueben Wong and Kunimitsu Takahashi, and Car 27, Hiroki Katoh, Eddie Lew and Farriz Fauzy – were also the winners of the Class A championship in MME 2005 and MME 2004.
In addition to the Class A title, HMRT Car 27 was fourth in overall and displayed a vindication that the team with the essence of Honda’s DNA thrives on challenges to compete at the highest level of racing.