Honda Racing to focus on local drivers next year

KUALA LUMPUR: The Honda Malaysia Racing Team who emerged as the Racing Team for 2004 at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) Motorsport Awards on Monday night will defend their Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) title next year by focusing more on local driving talent. 

Team manager Zainuddin Taib, who is also Honda Malaysia’s marketing manager, said: “We had three Japanese drivers and three Malaysian drivers this year. For 2005, the mission is to have more Malaysian drivers in the team.” 

He said that next year the preparations should be smoother because there were cars available for fine-tuning the powerful Honda engines, which would be tested for reliability and durability by performance drivers. 

The sixth edition of the MME race will be held at the Sepang Circuit on Aug 26 and 27 next year and is expected to attract top-class international drivers and the best of the Malaysians. 

Zainuddin said that preparations for the MME race would start in June, adding that the biggest problem was the selection of team crew from Honda Malaysia. 

“The response from the Honda Malaysia staff has been overwhelming. Everybody is excited about the project and wants to contribute to the development of the MME team. But, of course, we cannot just take in everybody,” said Zainuddin.  

“Obviously, the SIC Motorsport Awards for Team of The Year will push us to do even better in 2005.” 

Fielding two 2000cc unmodified Honda Civic I-VTEC, which were locally assembled at the Honda plant in Malacca, the team finished first through the partnership of Hiroki Katoh, Eddie Lew and youngster Fariz Fauzy. 

The other entry of Japan GT drivers Kunimitsu Takahashi and Hidetoshi Matsusada and three-time MME winner Tommy Lee, finished third. – Bernama 

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