After successfully finishing and clinching the top spot in their class in the 2017 K Car Global 24 hour event in Sepang, Mohamed Hafez Kamarudin aka, Mycil has announced that he and his team will be making a return entry for the event that is scheduled from 15th to 17th November of 2019.
Back in 2017, his team that was then known as Race Legend featured past and incumbent champions like Admi Shahrul who had just won that year’s S1K race and multiple racecar champion Faidzil Alang. Both these protagonist no doubt provided Hafez’s team with enough input to make them competitive in a field of experienced race teams from Japan and the local teams.
Apart from Admi and Faidzil, Team Race Legend also had some young blood doing the driving duties in the form of MSF Race Car Open Champion Akid Azlee, uprising racer Mirza Syahmi Mahzan and experience racer Syed Rizal. Together with Hafez and his long time race partner Gan Kian Huat, the team was more than adequately prepared to race into the unknown, especially this being their first time out together as a team in a 24-hour event.
“That K Car Global 24 hour event back in 2017 was truly a great experience and a memorable one for me and the team. It expanded my horizon where I could see and experience first-hand what it takes to complete the task of running a car non-stop for 24 hours,” said Hafez.
“For sure we had some issues and with some quite severe, that affected our overall on track positions. But the spirit of camaraderie amongst our team members showed that we were never in a position to give up and all the decisions with regards to rectifying our problems were done diplomatically and resolved quickly, and to this I have to thank Faidzil and Admi for their input and vast experience,” added Hafez.
The K Car Global is a popular Japanese 24-hour event, which is held on a circuit featuring only kei-cars or micro cars. Normally entered by enthusiast of such cars the event has also attracted some well-known figures in Japanese auto racing which no doubt helps to enhance the event. Malaysia is one of the venues that feature the K Car Global event and has proven to be a hit amongst the local teams, based on the two events that was held here, previously. For the Malaysian event, the classes for the Malaysian teams are separated from the Japanese class meaning that the former will only go head-to-head with their own classes.
Aside from the laid-back manner, the event complies with international safety regulations. The machineries that are featured in the 24-hour run, especially from the Japanese teams feature purpose built cars with high-grade engineering work. These cars were not only quick but very economical too, and these factors were enough to convinced Hafez and Gan to have a go at this 24-hour run.
“Definitely we were very intrigue with the amazing work that the Japanese teams have done to their cars, and this provided us some inspiration and ideas to work on our cars in the future. And to this effect, this also quash rumors about small engine cars not having the legs to run high-speeds over a long duration, because it can,” said Hafez.
Team Race Legend began the 2017 K Car Global run well running in first position in their overall class on a very hot and dry afternoon in the early stages. They drop their pace soon after running in second place to initiate their conservative drive mode. This was vital as apart from saving various components from wear along with other vital parts; the team had also have to save fuel as the organizer had only provided 320 liters to complete the task.
Hafez who was the first driver explained that they had done their calculations and the ideal lap times to stick with to initiate the conservative drive and barring any issues, they would be fine and would be on target to finish in the top position of their class. Even in their conservative drive they managed to lead during the day when their rivals encountered some problems.
As the hours went by, Team Race Legend lead the Malaysian categories by a massive margin and with enough fuel to spare. It was a trouble-free run thus far until darkness fell when their first trouble occurred, the symptom being a problem with the right-side driveshaft. With Faidzil supervising the replacement, the work was completed in a mere six-minute, and the team gets to keep their first position, brilliant!
This phase of the 24-hour run was trouble free with Akid, Syahmi, Syed Rizal and Faidzil taking turns driving the car and sticking to the conservative driving plan. It worked as the team were piling on the lap differences against their rivals.
But their trouble-free run ended several hours after midnight when the car was off the radar when Admi was behind the wheel. Admi had done a brilliant job by doing near perfect consistent lap times during his stint but just did not have enough fuel to make the planned scheduled stop for fuel on the next lap, and he unceremoniously just ran out of fuel at turn 5. Miraculously it was just nearby the team’s pit so the crew went to aid Admi to recover the car, but this took quite a bit of time and it had some consequences as the 24-hour run unfolds.
With the car prep and fueled, the drivers took turns piling up the laps and trying to recover their positions. They up their pace slightly while keeping tabs on the fuel consumption as apart from any mechanical mishaps, sufficient fuel would be vital for them to complete the run.
And disaster strikes again! After piling on the laps and recovering their positions, a broken front right suspension halted the team’s mighty drive. Hafez had just taken over the car in what seemed like casual drive from here on, but he lasted only a few laps before pitting in with the problem. This was a severe case as the suspension bracket that is attached to the front knuckle is broken. With no spares the next best thing to do is to have it temporarily welded, but this was another issue as no one has a welding set trackside and with this being almost 5am there’s not a workshop nearby that would accommodate the team’s request, and this is where the spirit of camaraderie comes in.
Hafez explained, “To be honest I was about to throw in the towel and there was sadness amongst us as we’ve done more than three quarters of the run, and to end it just like this is really devastating.” But there is respite as one of the rival local team offered to help. Keno Ariff was attending the event to support his friends in the rival team when he noticed the issue with team Race Legend’s car. With his workshop being several kilometers away from the Sepang Circuit he offered to help and took Gan and the broken suspension to his place to have it welded.
This whole episode took more than an hour and with the car fixed, the team had to devise another plan on how to recover back their top position quickly, without consuming too much fuel. Faidzil was in charge of the plan monitoring closely the drivers pace while monitoring fuel consumption. His plan worked out well and with him taking the final stint, he managed to clinch back their class position but just missing the overall honours once the clock for the 24-hour run ended.
“A bit of a bittersweet ending but truly a memorable experience for all of us in the team. But what’s important for me during this event is the spirit of camaraderie or brotherhood if you want to call it, displayed amongst the competitors. We almost packed up when we had the suspension issue and it was the empathy of someone from another team that helped us back on track, which just shows that there’s still kindness in this competitive sport,” said Hafez.
Asked about his K Car Global 24-hour run this year, Hafez says that the plans are already in motion and it is an affirmative entry for his team. “I can confirmed that my team will be entering this year’s K Car Global featuring some of the previous line-up like Faidzil Alang, Akid Azlee, Zuraimi Mustapha, Tarmizi Tahang, Gan and me, and with two more seats available for any interested parties. As we move on, I hope to secure some sponsorships to help run this program smoothly. As for the car, it is almost ready and we’re looking at having a shakedown sometime after Hari Raya to sort out any kinks that we might have, so hopefully this time around we might have a much better run,” Hafez conclude.