Kuala Lumpur, 22 August 2007 - Honda Malaysia today threw a party to unveil their 2007 Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) race cars, Car 26 and Car 27 as well as to introduce the Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT) members and line up of six drivers. 2007 MME's Car 26 is a Civic Type R locally built at Honda's Malacca plant, while Car 27 is a Civic Type R built in Japan.
At MME 2006, HMRT experienced a bittersweet victory when Car 27 took home the Class A title while Car 26 met with an unforeseen accident which caused major damages to the car. But the HMRT team managed to repair the car which then went on to finish the race in 8th position in Class A.
For MME 2007, HMRT's spirit is "The Challenge Within", and the team has decided to challenge itself to build a Civic Type R locally and bring it back to the tracks. After 6 months of challenge, sweat and hard work, the team unveiled the new Car 26 at the party. The HMRT team, who is now fully local, displayed true determination and Challenging Spirit in building Car 26 for MME 2007.
In his speech during the party, HMRT Team Principal who is also Honda Malaysia Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Atsushi Fujimoto commended the team, "We are indeed very proud of the HMRT team. Preparations for this year's race were even more grueling and rigorous as the bar has been raised and expectations are higher than before. Everyone did their best and the whole team is truly dedicated and passionate in taking on the challenge. They have learned so well from last year's experience and from the Japanese counterparts that they are now a fully local and independent team this year! Through the knowledge gained, HMRT members were able to build Car 26 to what we see today."
"Honda Malaysia continues to put our resources and provide fullest support for HMRT in MME 2007. Honda's DNA and racing heritage challenges us to compete at the highest level of motorsports technology. At the same time, endurance tests such as MME provide us with the opportunity to continuously improve on the quality of our products," added Mr Fujimoto.
One of the HMRT members, 27-year old Irwan bin Ab. Hamid who works in Facilities Department at Honda's manufacturing plant in Melaka said, "This is my first time joining HMRT and the reason I did it this year was because I noticed that one of my colleagues can handle his daily responsibilities better after joining HMRT last year and this was in addition to his involvement in HMRT. I wanted to challenge myself to be able to do the same."
While Car 26 was built locally by HMRT in Honda's Malacca Plant, Car 27 is a Civic Type R from Japan, specially built by the MUGEN team.
Mr Fujimoto added that Honda Malaysia sent 3 HMRT members to Japan for a 3-week stint to learn from the MUGEN team in the building of Car 27, as part of the training and development of their local talents.
Irwan also shares about his stint in Japan to help build Car 27, "I was one of the fortunate HMRT members selected to undergo training in Japan where I joint a team of people who are experts in building racecars. It was a dream come true for me. They taught me many new skills, and the true meaning of teamwork and team spirit. In the three weeks we were there, we worked together to build a complete racecar from just an empty frame. When we encountered a problem, they taught us to never give up and instead think of creative ways to solve it. "
He said that the experience really opened his eyes and now he approaches his daily responsibilities differently.
The drivers for this year are once again drawn from both Japan and Malaysia. Two new drivers to the team, Mr Aaron Lim and En Fahrizal Hasan, will join four returning drivers, Mr Eddie Lew Kar Wai, Mr Reuben Wong, Mr Hiroki Katoh and Mr Shinya Hosokawa.
Having rose to the challenges, with race cars that are in excellent performance condition, experienced drivers and supportive management, the overall championship trophy might just be HMRT's this MME 2007.
Racing and motor sports is deeply rooted in Honda's DNA. It is Honda's reason to exist. Honda's Challenging Spirit and racing heritage will ensure that HMRT will go all out in embracing the MME 2007 challenge.
Honda will continue to pursue the ultimate potential of motorsports and share its excitement with Malaysians.