Images by Perotography and F Tuned Racing Suspension
After enduring much upsets in this season’s Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF), Moda Machine’s drivers Mirza Syahmi and Syahrizal Jamaludin finally made some worthwhile points scoring outing after the pair finished two races in 3rd position, in the Street 1600 Limited and Ultimate 1600 categories respectively during Round 4 of the 2019 MSF Championship.
Round 4 of the MSF Championship features the 45-minute Merdeka Enduro round that had a 3-minute mandatory pit-stop and it was in these area that the driving duo took advantage to emerged ahead of their faster rivals in both the race categories.
During the qualifying session Syahrizal did his best to pit the team’s Honda EK in 6th position in the Street 1600 Limited race after going against the much faster cars in the category, while in the Ultimate 1600, Syahrizal once again did the qualifying duties and placed their Satria Neo in 3rd on the starting grid. Although the starting grid positions did not really represent what was about to be unfold, the on-track dramas revealed some dramatic turn of events which sealed the outcome for them in both races.
In the Street 1600 Limited race Syahrizal did the first stint and he made a good start and was mixing it with the lead group of the faster cars. Even after the first lap it was clear that his car was no match with the lead cars and was losing ground to them. Miraculously even before the mandatory pit-stop some of those cars fell off the grid with some issues and Syahrizal was able to maintain a good position to be within a podium finish. Unfortunately for him the other cars behind him too had the same idea and seems to getting faster after a longer duration of the race.
This was a critical point and the alternative plan of pitting the car ahead of schedule was executed. With Syahmi now behind the wheel he had to play some catching up to maintain some advantage as some cars were about to do their rounds of pit-stop. The plan worked out and although the team were only looking at ‘just’ finishing’ in 5th place, Syahmi wasn’t about to let that slid easily.
Driving as fast as he could get out of the car, Syahmi closed the gaps to the cars in front of him and with some seemingly losing some pace and had some issues, he kept the car intact and crosses the line in 3rd place which was the team’s best result to date in this category.
“That was a nail-biting race to the finish and I have to thank my teammate Syahrizal with that blistering drive from the beginning and the well executed pit-stop plan,” said Syahmi. “From the beginning we knew that we did not have the pace to challenge the front-runners and the original strategy was simply to keep our starting position till the end, if possible. But things changed when some of the front runners develop some issues and by than we looked at how we can devise an undercut and the plan worked out well for us. Although this round I was without my regular teammate Faye Kusairi but I’m sure she would have been able to emulate the same result tonight if she was driving, and this result is also for you too, Faye” added Syahmi.
“We had a modest target after looking at the pace of our rivals and our initial plan was just to bring the car home in one piece from where we started. But as Syahmi mentioned, things changed when it was more or less beginning to look like we could take advantage of our rivals issues. The pit-stop was crucial and perhaps the deciding factor and I’m happy that it sealed the fate for us in finishing ahead of of what we had targeted, so 3rd place is the best finishing position for the team this season and, congratulations to the everyone in the team,” said Syahrizal.
With the team feeling pumped after their best finish in the 1600 Street Limited race, team Moda Machine was looking forward to their next race in the Ultimate 1600 category. With Syahrizal once again taking the first stint he made a lightning start from 3rd on the grid and was leading the group during the opening lap. With his car having a speed deficit over the rivals it wasn’t long before he was passed and was holding on to third position and eventually dropping to fourth before the pit-stop. Syahrizal would report later that the car was developing some curious understeer at those fast turns and a suspected lost of power which impacted his overall speed.
With the pit-stop done and driver change, Syahmi took over the car and was experiencing what Syahrizal had reported. Throughout the remaining of the race Syahmi who was lying in a lonely fourth place and was basically nursing the car with the lap times terribly off the pace and things were about to get even more severe!
With 8 minutes remaining on the clock Syahmi was getting slower, recording almost a 3 minute lap times, surely something has gone terribly wrong. As the clock wound down, Syahmi reported that he had lost third-gear which explained his slow pace. But he was determined to keep that fourth position and soldiered on. But as fate would have it, and this time luckily it was favourable to Syahmi, the 3rd placed car went off the track precisely on the last lap! Taking advantage of this albeit at a slower pace, Syahmi brought the car across the line in third position, incredible!
Reflecting on the race and especially the closing stages of the race, Syahmi stated, “In all honesty, I was about to throw in the towel when I had the transmission issue which made driving less pleasant. But I knew at that point I had a massive gap to the car behind me, so I decided to keep on driving and hope that that nothing else breaks down. I think the decision was right as we could have not finished in 3rd if I had stop and this result is truly unbelievable!”.
“My start was a sort of “no-holds-barred” type if I must say so, and gaining some positions right after the start could give us some advantage, but I never thought that I could be leading during the opening lap,” said Syahrizal. “With the speed deficit, I knew that I could not hold off our rivals and it didn’t take long before I was down in third place. I thought I could hold on to this position before the pit-stop but curiously the car had started to develop some understeer issues especially around those fast turns, and this hampered my cornering speed. Not only that, the car was also losing some power which dropped me another position before I handed the car to Syahmi. But nevertheless, I’m happy that Syahmi handled the car well with it’s unforgiving nature and was determined to bring it home regardless what the outcome may be, and amazingly was rewarded with a 3rd place finish,” Syahrizal concluded.
Although it was a well deserved results for team Moda Machine during Round 4 of the 2019 MSF for both categories, unfortunately the team’s Ultimate 1600 race car was penalised for technical infringement and was slapped with a 30-second penalty thus dropping their finishing order to 4th place. But with the progress that the team have made, the penalty did not dent the team’s spirit and is already looking forward to the next round of the series championship.
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