For the first time in Malaysia’s F1 history, race cars at the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) would be sharing the track with the Formula 1 mean machines during the Sepang F1 race weekend.
MSS, which celebrates its 10th edition this year, has received a major shot in the arm after the F1 license holder – Formula One Management (FOM) – has approved its inclusion as a support race at the 2011 Formula 1 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix in April.
“I am proud to announce that our MSS will be the support race for this year’s Formula 1 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix. This is indeed a honour for us at SIC, a firm recognition for the MSS and a strong boost to the development of Malaysian motorsports,” SIC Chief Executive Officer Dato Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali said in a statement today.
Launched in April 2002, the MSS was the brainchild of the late Tan Sri Basir Ismail – the then chairman of SIC – and was an effort by the circuit to provide more competitive motorsports events for Malaysians and to unearth new talents as well as draw more Malaysians to the circuit.
While it would be the first time for the drivers to show off their skills at the Malaysian F1 race, the MSS bike races had featured as support races at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix – the two-wheel equivalent to the F1 – for the past five seasons. The car races, however, had been incorporated before as support races at the Super GT International Series Malaysia and the now-defunct A1GP World Cup of Motorsports.
For 2011, the MSS car competitions feature the Malaysian GT category – which runs an open class, the GT Class, Sports Production Class and the Touring Class – and the Malaysian Touring Car category, which is divided into Class 1 and Class 2.
Razlan said: “We have worked very hard to secure FOM’s approval. But, all the hard work had worth every ounce of the energy as it would mark a new era for the Malaysian Super Series. Hopefully, it would be a strong attraction for the local racing community; and the regional as well, especially the new drivers to sign up for the series.
“Imagine the mileage that the drivers, teams, sponsors and partners would get through this new association with F1. It will be massive … not just in terms of mileage and exposure; but also interest among the locals drivers,” said Razlan, adding that SIC aimed to ensure that the MSS would continue to be part of the F1 race for next year and beyond.
First held in 1999, the 2011 Formula 1 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix will be the 13th edition and SIC’s current contract with FOM in hosting one round of the prestigious Formula 1 World Championship runs until 2015.
With the postponement of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Malaysia will now host the second round of the 2011 season from April 8 to 10. The new season opens at Albert Park in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix from March 25 to 28.
Commenting on the subject, MSS most successful driver Boy Wong Yew Choong commended SIC for its diligent efforts especially in developing the series.
“As a racing driver, I know how difficult it is to organize a racing series in Malaysia after the ban on tobacco advertising. MSS was created after that ban and I remember how happy we were when SIC started this series.
“It was small; but we had everybody there … all the regular drivers were there. Sponsorships were hard; but most of us continue. But, most important, SIC continue to build this series and I am proud that it will now be part of our F1 race,” said Boy, who went on to win four Supersixteen titles and one Supersaloon overall crown.
Both the 1600cc Supersixteen and 2000cc Supersaloon championship, however, would not be run this season as SIC made radical changes last year in creating new categories to uplift the standard of the series and Malaysia’s motorsports as a whole.
“For this year, my Type R Racing Team would be competing in the Touring Production Championship with our Honda FD2 cars. Hopefully, we can be as successful as in the Supersixteen and Supersaloon Championship,” said Boy, who would have 2007 Supersaloon Champion Soh Kee Koon in the other car.