Singaporean racing driver Yuey Tan stormed to victory in the GT Category with Team NZ, for the 2014 edition of the Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race.
Tan entered Asia’s largest endurance race with Team NZ, a team owned by Singapore based Kiwi businessman, Graeme Dowsett. The team entered a Porsche 997 GT3 Carrera Cup Car with a driver lineup that saw a mix of experienced and newer drivers which combined to make a formidable team. The driver lineup consisted of Tan, New Zealand driver Will Bamber, along with the car owners Graeme Dowsett and John Curran. Reigning Carrera Cup Asia champion, Early Bamber took the role of team boss as he ran the strategy and was the communication point during the 12 hour endurance race.
“I am very happy to have been part of Team NZ’s triumph in the GT Class at the Merdeka Endurance Race,” said a very happy Tan. “To be honest the team was put together at the last minute as we were not sure whether there’d be time to enter a car into the race. Though due to a big effort from everyone involved especially Graeme and John, the race went ahead and after a lot of hard work and endless hours thinking about what we need, we manage to take home victory which was sweet!”
The race began with the Team NZ Porsche qualifying 3rd in category, behind the two Audi R8 Cup cars of Absolutely Racing. There were also two other Kiwi entered Porsche GT3 Cup cars which qualified behind the Team NZ Porsche, under the Motorsport Services Team.
“We knew the Audis would be too quick for us in qualifying and the race,” continued Tan. “So our aim in qualifying was to be the fastest of the rest, and the number one Porsche. “For the race, the Audis were quicker no doubt though we were running a 3.8 flat six to their 5.0 V10 so we had a lower fuel consumption which meant we could run lighter, faster, better! I believe we were also the only car in category not running ABS so it was our plan to try and run the whole race on one set of brake pads and save time in the pits!”
Fortunately Team NZ ran its strategy out successfully, targeting a total of 300 laps over the 12 hours. The team managed 291 laps, with two safety cars coming out during the race which was not a bad total by any means.
“Earl looked at what the 2013 winner did and tried to benchmark from there. The Audi R8 Cup car of Alex Yoong in 2013 was a solid winner and we knew what Audi was capable of. So that was the target.”
Early in the race, one of the Audi’s led by race ace, Marchy Lee retired, only leaving one Audi left in the category. Team NZ trailed the 2nd Audi by a tiny margin, only being as much as 1 lap behind after the first eight hours of the race. Though fortunately for Team NZ, the Audi had a problem with four hours left of the race allowing the Porsche to take the lead for the first time in the race.
“The plan was always to be right in the frame. Step 1: Beat all of the other Porsche’s which was a little less challenging than anticipated. Step 2 was to stay with the Audis just in case something went wrong and that’s what happened!”
“Earl was on top of the strategy right from the start. He always kept us driving at the correct pace, taking care of the brakes and tyres, as well as going quick enough to stay competitive. Our race pace is what won us the race!”
From then on, the Porsche of Team NZ cruised maintaining its machinery till the end of the race, getting to the end 6 laps ahead of its closest competitor and winning the category by the largest margin of any winner at the MMER. The Team NZ car finished with a total of 291 laps during the 12 hour event.
“It was an absolute pleasure to drive alongside the boys at Team NZ. Want to say a big thank you to Graeme, John, Will and Earl as it was a fantastic race experience and to come up on top was even better! I’m sure Team NZ will be back to defend their title in 2015. I can’t wait!”