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HMRT’S METICULOUS PREPARATION PAYS OFF AT THE MME
The Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT) successfully led the 12-hour Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race (MMER) 2010 from start to finish with 281 laps to win the championship title in the Touring Production class. The relentless action on 7th – 8th August 2010 at the Sepang International Circuit was indeed a weekend to remember as the HMRT reclaims the title after 2007’s victory.
“The team has improved greatly and worked hard throughout the year to rectify the minor errors made at last year’s race. All of them have done a great job, especially with a fully localized team! At Honda, it is never only on winning, it is always about rising above the challenges and going beyond our limits. This fortitude is deeply rooted in Honda’s DNA and Challenging Spirit in racing as we continue to compete at the highest level of motorsports,” says Honda Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.
Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer Toru Takahashi. It was an especially sweet victory for the team as they had heartbreakingly lost the title last year towards the end of the race. Chief Mechanic, Irwan, who was overcome with emotions, tells us that the team truly stepped up to the game this year. “The preparation was a demanding one. But despite the groundwork, we still encountered minor problems during the warm-up laps which got us worried. I am really proud of the team and I attribute our win to the valuable training which prepared us well,” he says. Without a doubt, the 22-member HMRT pit crew, who also built up the race car, played a major role in the team’s success. Just who does what at the pits and how did they go about preparing for the race? Let’s explore their winning formula.
Engine Man, Thayalakumaran, 32
“I check data such as fuel pressure and braking techniques of the driver via G-force sensors to know what is really happening in the engine and how to improve it,” he explains. “The challenge is checking and diagnosing the problems in the shortest time possible.” More popularly known as Kumar, he is among the senior HMRT members who were sent to the Mugen headquarters in Japan for training in 2007.
Chief Mechanic, Irwan Abd.Hamid, 30
As the chief in charge of the technical team, Irwan keeps the team together to minimize mistakes at the pit. “At our Shakedown this year, we secretly simulated a problem with the car that caught the crew off-guard. We wanted to test if they were ready for the real action. I am pleased to say that our manager and advisors were very satisfied with the results because the team was well-prepared,” he says proudly.
Pit Wall Chief, Khairul Nizam Rahmat, 25
Khairul’s team comprises of two members who clock the lap time of the car outside the pit lane and relate their data to the Chief Mechanic. “I update the pit board with remaining lap times to signal to the driver so that he pits in at the correct time. It is really challenging to stay alert throughout the 12-hour race so we take turns to perform our duties in case one of us gets tired,” he says.
Tyre Man, Borhan Selamat, 42
The tyre man inspects the tyre conditions and determines the optimum pressure and temperature of the 15 or more sets of tyres prior to the race. “During the race, we normally change the front tyres about four times more often than the rear ones,” he explains. “I communicate with the Chief Mechanic and decide what tyre changes are required during the race.”
Fuel Man, Muhammad Faizul Muhammad Ghazali, 28
As the first person to get his hands on the car during a pit stop, his role is an important but hazardous one. “Did you know that adjusting the height of the tower and getting into the right position to handle the 2kg hose is important in
refueling efficiently? It is all carefully thought out. I also ensure that the refueling tower is in good condition to prevent leakage,” he shares.
The HMRT pit crew
The pit crew can be categorized into two entities: The technical crew and the non-technical crew. The technical
crew is directly involved with physically maintaining the car while the non-technical crew takes care of other needs
that may arise during the race. Overseeing the pit crew is the Pit Manager, who plays a crucial role in organizing the car build up, deciding on the optimum race strategy and communicating with the drivers during their break to better understand the car’s performance.
The Technical Crew
• Mechanics: Led by the Chief Mechanic, the team comprises of 4 main crews who ensures the entire car’s components, with the exception of the engine, are at an optimum condition throughout the race.
• Tyre man: Prepares the right type of tyres required for the race and ensures the tyres’ pressure and temperature are at an optimum level. He is in charge of making the switch between wet or dry tyres depending on race conditions.
• Fuel man: He not only ensures the car is fueled to a calculated level, but is also in charge of attaching and removing the refuel hose to/from the car’s fuel receptacle during the pit stop. As a safety measure, only the fuel man is allowed to touch the car during refueling.
• Engine man: Each time the car enters the pits, the engine man utilises a fully computerized data logger to diagnose any problems with the engine and to ensure that all engine parameters are running perfectly.
The Non-technical Crew
• Pit wall (Time Logger & Lap Timer): Their role is to compare lap times of the race car to diagnose potential problems, which will then be communicated to the technical crew. This includes driver alertness, brake problems and worn tyres.
• Driver assist: During driver change, he helps the driver get out of the car. After a refuel, he quickly gets the next driver into the car and fastens his seat belts and helmets in the shortest possible time. He is also the one who communicates with the driver during this process.
• Pit coordinator: In charge of the communication equipment at the pit to ensure crew members are always in touch with each other, whereby some crew are able to talk via their headsets while others are only able to listen to what is going on.
• Pit service team: They oversee all the pit crew’s as well as a driver’s needs, like food and refreshment, when necessary.