Photo Credit: MSF Media
After a long drought, Syahrizal Jamaludin has done it when he won a very entertaining Race 2 in the Saga Cup Pro category race, which was held during the opening round of the 2019 Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) Championship. For Syahrizal this was long in waiting and he insist that his motivation remains as strong as it was since he began his racing career with PETRONAS Motorsport more than a decade ago.
The Saga Cup series, which was introduced in the MSF back in 2016, has become increasingly popular among fans and indeed among the drivers too. The championship has also attracted some established racers to the series that made the races more entertaining. Split between the Saga Cup Pro, Saga Cup Advanced, Saga Cup Casual and Saga Cup Intermediate classes, the opening round of this season’s MSF attracted 70 cars and with the race symbolically flag-off by Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
During qualifying Syahrizal managed to place the Masai Motor Trading Proton Saga in second position overall in the Pro category on the starting grid. With teammate Ibrahim Mosar taking the wheel in Race 1, they had a game plan and had anticipated what the outcome would be, in preparation for Race 2.
Starting from position 2 on the grid Ibrahim managed to hold on to his starting position during the opening lap before being passed by more powerful and experienced oppositions. But he managed well despite the odds against him and held a reasonably good position by bringing the car across the line in 5th place, which was to be Syahrizal’s starting position in Race 2.
With their game plan executed in Race 2, Syahrizal was quick off the bat and was up to third place before arriving turn 4 on the opening lap. The second placed car of Damian Dielenberg proved to be tough pass and with leader Tan Chaw Wei steadily increasing his gap at the front, Syahrizal needed to come up with a plan, quick. And he did just that as they were approaching turn 15 for lap 2. This was a crucial moment as Syahrizal has lined up his car appropriately to made a clean exit and this allowed him to draft pass Damian’s car on the main straight just before turn 1.
From here on it was all about catching Tan Chaw Wei. Now unleashed, Syahrizal began to make his move on closing the gap. Lap after lap he was pounding quick and consistent lap times and on the penultimate lap, he was right on the rear bumper of Tan Chaw Wei’s car. This was when the gloves came off and spectators got their money’s worth as they watch two professional drivers hammer it out on track. Every move by both drivers were close calls, the kind of on-the-edge-of-your-seat moment, but there was never a hint of them taking each other out, even when they were bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door, incredible!
Syahrizal’s crucial move came when exiting turn 4 on the last lap. With Syahrizal having a better exit, he squeezed his car beside Tan Chaw Wei’s car on the left which gave him an advantage going into turn 5 and finally took the lead. But Tan Chaw Wei wasn’t about to give up that easily and applied pressure to Syahrizal and even attempted to make a pass at turn 14, but unsuccessfully.
Tan Chaw Wei attempts made him lose some ground and this gave Syahrizal the advantage that he needed on the back straight to keep his lead. And with a clear track ahead, Syahrizal took the last turn comfortably and on to the finish line in first place! A win that he longed for many years.
A jubilant Syahrizal noted that it was a relief that a win for him finally happened and dedicated this victory to his hometown mate Ibrahim for putting faith in him. “It’s been a while since my last win and I feel as much motivated as I was when I first began racing now,” said Syahrizal. “In racing you always target for a win and that is what I had achieved today all thanks to my mate Ibrahim and his team who had confidence in me. They managed to put the car together accordingly, which I can say is a gem right out of the box. I guess from here on things are about to get even tougher as the competitors would definitely up their game, so we have to use every tool at our disposal like physical, psychological and engineering, to overcome them,” Syahrizal concluded.