Malaysian team finish fourth in sim racing

PETALING JAYA: A South-East Asia team have made the region proud after finishing fourth at the biggest sim racing competition in the world – the 24 Hours Le Mans Virtual.

Axle Sports, founded by former Formula One driver Alex Yoong, fielded two teams over the weekend which saw the participation of some high-profile competitors including current F1 world champion Max Verstappen of Holland, Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia and the best esports drivers in the world.

In the LMP (Le Mans Prototype) category, car No. 21 of team SEM9 Flash Axle was piloted by race drivers Naquib Azlan (pic) of Malaysia and Inigo Anton from the Philippines as well as gamers Mohammad Aleef of Singapore and Josh Purwien from Australia.

Naquib, fresh from his win at the South-East Asia eSports Championships put the Oreca 07 LMP 2 in sixth place after starting from eighth.

However, three hours later, the team were penalised with a drive-through penalty for hitting a backmarker and dropped to 12th.

But the quartet mounted a strong comeback to put the team in fifth place in the final hours.

Naquib took the driver’s seat again six hours before the end of the race and was engaged in a furious battle with car No. 49 of YAS HEAT, which he finally won.

Aleef took the penultimate stint and Anton got in for the final hour, holding off intense pressure from YAS HEAT on the last lap to bring the car home in fourth place.

Naquib, 20, said the achievement has not really sunk in yet.

“P4 in the whole freaking world. Tried to take some time to think what we achieved but it still feels surreal.

“It might not be a win but as a team and against the best drivers and sim racing teams in the world this means so much to us.

“Super proud of the whole team for all their efforts, no one could have done without the others.

Meanwhile, Verstappen crashed out of the race after his Redline team led the first seven hours of the race.

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