PETALING JAYA: More than 40 teams have confirmed their participation in the Merdeka Millennium Endurance race, which will be held at the Sepang Circuit on Aug 27.
The organisers are expecting a full grid for the 12-hour endurance race this time.
Said Sepang International Circuit (SIC) general manager Ahmad Mustafa: The response has been encouraging, especially from the international drivers. We should see another full grid of 77 cars and 231 drivers again this year, said Ahmad.
Defending champions Honda Malaysia Racing have also announced that they would be fielding a six-man team of three Japan GT drivers and three Malaysian drivers in their bid to retain their title.
Driving a production-based Honda Civic 2.0 DOHC I-VTEC, Japan GT driver Hiroki Katoh and Malaysian drivers Eddie Lew and Farriz Fauzy stunned the more powerful modified cars to take the overall title last year for the Honda team.
The other Honda entry of Kunimitsu Takahashi, Hidetoshi Matsusada and Tommy Lee took third placing. Honda drivers Eddie and Farriz completed a two-day testing on their Honda Civic I-VTEC machines at the circuit on Thursday.
There is also an all-women line-up in the RedBull X1-R Racing Team comprising Japanese Kazumi Mikami, a seasoned racer, who is competing in the Formula Toyota Championship back home; Deanna Yusof and Philippa Yoong.
Introduced in 2000 as an effort to promote Malaysian motorsports and part of the National Day celebrations, the endurance race sees drivers three to a car taking turns to complete as many laps as possible around the 5.543km F1 track within 12 gruelling hours.
As in last years edition, the 2005 Merdeka Millennium Endurance race would be contested in four different categories, with the Open class the most challenging and highly competitive with all the allowed modifications. Class A will group cars above 1900cc while Class B will group cars between 1601cc to 1900cc. Class C will be for cars under 1600cc.
Qualifying will be held on Aug 26 where only the 77 best qualifiers will make the grid for the race proper, which will be flagged off at 11am the following day (Aug 27).
The closing date for registration is Aug 16 and Ahmad advised the teams to register early.