|Honda Malaysia Racing Team(HMRT) will again participate in the 2010 Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race (MME), and this year’s edition marks HMRT’s eighth competition. Drivers line-up features Eddie Lew, Rueben Wong and Aaron Lim who drove in previous MME editions for HMRT. Both Lew and Wong have been racing for Honda since 2004 while Lim joined the team in 2007.|
Between ’03-’07, HMRT received technical guidance from MUGEN, and in 2008, HMRT became an independent Malaysian works MME team. Since then, the works team have built and worked on the race car while the Japanese counterparts act as advisors.
The objective for Honda in its involvement in MME is to focus on developing local competency and human development. One of the main challenges for HMRT is taking on members that are not a ‘motorsports’ professional. This year, a total of 22 HMRT members, staff of Honda Malaysia, are roped in for the HMRT MME project.
Q&A with HMRT drivers: Aaron Lim (A), Rueben Wong (R, above left) and Eddie Lew (E, above right)
How did you start racing?
E: My interest in motorsports started when I was in secondary school. I have a group of friends who also love motorsports and we always gather to have fun on the track. From then, some motorsports experts took notice of us and actually asked me to go into car racing.
What does racing mean to you?
R: Racing is not a one-man show. It is done in a team, and not just dependant on the driver alone. HMRT is a great team and the technicians and mechanics are well trained.
Why did you join HMRT?
A: I always look forward to coming back to Malaysia to race. MME is one of the biggest local racing events in Malaysia. With HMRT, it is the same as other races and teams where there is mutual learning and sharing of knowledge. I do enjoy participating in MME since 2007 and this year will be my 4th year racing in MME.
Are you planning to stop racing anytime soon?
R: No. I am a race engineer and I will still continue to do the same eg. take care of the cars and prepare the drivers. Therefore, I will continue to participate in HMRT as a driver as I learnt a lot on top of my daily work as a race engineer. Currently I am preparing the A1 team.
What goes on in your mind when you are racing?
R: Winning the race will be the biggest motivation for us when we are racing on the track.
Have you ever been involved in an accident while racing? Do you have any fears or phobia after the accident?
R: One accident that I can remember is when the brakes failed as I was making a corner during one of the races. I tried my best to maneuver the vehicle so that there there is least impact when I hit the wall. I am not fearful but I am mindful that I have to be alert of the condition of the car whenever I am racing.
As a racer, how is your driving attitude when on the roads?
E: I will set a good example as a road user and behave when driving on the road. When racing, we do have a set of rules and regulations that we have to follow.
If you are not a racer, what will you be doing?
E: When I am not racing, I work as a used car dealer. For my long-term goal, I would love to be able to share my experience with young and upcoming race drivers to motivate and mentor them. Actually car racing / motorsports is only my hobby. Most of my time is spent on my own business, which is also related to cars.
What vehicle are you driving right now? And what is your dream car?
A: My own vehicle now is the Volkswagen Golf G71 and my dream car is the Honda NSX-R.
R: My own vehicle now is the BMW 5 series and my dream car is the Audi RS6.
E: My own vehicle now is a Honda Odyssey and my dream car is the Honda NSX-R.
As a racer, do you feel stressful? How do you overcome stress?
A: I will set a goal for myself and have a race plan in mind. Then, I will just keep my focus on that plan.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for you in this year’s race?
A, R & E: This year, we have two main challenges. The first one is that we have a night start for the race this year. This means we have 7 hours of dark / night racing and 5 hours of day racing. On top of that, rain can also be a challenge, which we are unable to predict.
The other challenge is the official tire for MMER 2010. In the past, every team could choose their own brand and type of tires. But for this year, the organizers have determined that all the teams have to use the same brand of tires i.e. Pirelli. For HMRT, this is the first time we are using Pirelli tires and therefore we have to ensure we conduct proper testing.
Who do you admire as a racing driver?
A: Micheal Schumacher! I will continue to work hard in every race that I participate in.
R: I have admired many drivers as each one of them has different strengths and skills. I can learn from all drivers.
E: Michael Schumacher. His talents, skills, speed and results are outstanding. He clocked the fastest lap in the race.
In your opinion, what does a person need to have if they are interested to be a professional racer?
A, R & E: Financial ability is one of the main concerns in becoming a professional car racer. Besides that, having commitment and being fit are also important.
What is your coming aim / plan / target?
A, R & E: We are hopeful and positive that HMRT can win in the coming MMER!