Drivers are wary about the intense Malaysian heat in today’s 12 Hours of Sepang. Many also want to steer clear of trouble throughout the day. The race gets underway at 10 am local time.

By Steven Walton

The #31 Phantom Global Racing Audi will start at the front of the 2024 12 Hours of Sepang after drivers Bian Ye, Cheng Congfu and Adderly Fong secured pole position on Friday afternoon.

For Phantom Global Racing, this is just the second race they have entered since the team was formed.

Alongside their Audi on the front row is a team with far more experience: R&B Racing.

R&B Racing heads into the race with their #44 Porsche and they are fresh from victory in last year’s Shanghai 8 Hours.

R&B Racing is also the reigning teams’ champion of GT World Challenge Asia.

‘Keep out of trouble’

Phantom Global Racing driver Adderly Fong said on Instagram that the race would be hot and long. He said the main goal was “to keep out of trouble”.

Accuweather is forecasting a high of 35 degrees Celsius in Sepang on Saturday. The race starts at 10 am local time.

The English version of the race is being live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Two Chinese steams are available, one on Youku and another on Huya.

‘Bring the car back every stint’

The previous running of the 12 Hours of Sepang saw no safety cars. During the three hours of official practice on Friday, there were six red flags.

There is also traffic for the GT3 cars to contend with in this year’s race. There are three GTC cars and two TCR cars.

R&B Racing driver Leo Ye said that overtaking lapped cars could be tricky.

The Lamborghini GTC cars were “super quick on the straight and some of the drivers don’t look at the mirrors, so it’s going to be difficult”, he said.

“The most important thing is to bring the car back every stint and try to get my teammates to have some good rest and good food and get them to be consistent,” he said.

“Anything can happen in the race. Like this morning we had an issue with the car, but the race is 12 hours so everybody has a chance to have a mechanical failure,” he said.

‘The most challenging part is the heat’

Lining up in third at the start of the 12 Hours of Sepang is the #4 Grove Racing Mercedes.

Grove Racing driver Matt Payne said: “I’ve done a few endurance races now in my life, so pretty much the same speech is told before every single one: it’s just be consistent and make no mistakes.”

Asked if he was ready for the Malaysian heat, Payne said: “Yeah probably not personally, but Supercars is always pretty hot too, so it’s perfect training for me.”

Viper Niza Racing driver Melvin Moh said the 12 Hours of Sepang was his first GT3 race since 2019. “I’m excited for the weekend but I think the most challenging part is the heat,” he said.

“The last few days has been pretty hot. And if we can [survive the heat] and keep the car clean, keep the pitstops clean, I think we stand a very good chance,” he said.

His #65 Viper Niza Racing Mercedes is starting the race from tenth.

‘A lot of good drivers’

Absolute Racing driver Akash Nandy, who is from Malaysia, said the most difficult part of the race would be consistency with tyre wear.

“I’ve seen in practice that some cars have had bigger drop-off, we seem to look stronger on the long runs than we did in qualifying,” he said.

Nandy is driving the #26 Absolute Racing Audi, which starts from sixth.

“We are aiming to win the race,” he said. “It won’t be easy, a lot of cars here are quick, and there are a lot of good drivers.”

Absolute Racing finished first and second in the 2023 race.

Header image credit: 12 Hours of Sepang

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