For six years, the future of the 12 Hours of Sepang looked grim as it was simply not held. But new life has been breathed into the race and the drivers tackling it on Saturday want it to keep growing.

German driver Christopher Haase is very familiar with the 12 Hours of Sepang. He won it in 2010 and 2016.

Last year Haase was on the grid for the event’s revival and during the race he delivered an epic nighttime stint where he passed Reid Harker for second place in the final minutes of the race.

Haase has been here so many times he isn’t even exactly sure how many times it has been.

“Here in Malaysia, the people don’t really realise how we rate this race in Europe,” Haase told Asian Motorsport.

“Sepang is known for us in Europe as an ex-Formula 1 track and it is a nice track and it shows some international statement and I think this is one of the reasons it comes very positive to us in Europe.”

“Nowadays you also have the 12 Hours of Sebring, but everybody knows that Sepang is also happening. The only thing that I want to say is don’t underestimate this event, it’s a great event. It has every reason to come back … like it has been in the past,” Haase said.

“I hope that this event is growing back to full capacity in the future.”

‘It’s really good for this region’

Haase is just one of many drivers who want to see the 12 Hours of Sepang grow.

When the race was revived in 2023, it attracted 13 entries and was only held over eight hours. For 2024, the entry list has expanded to 17 cars and Saturday’s race will return to the full 12-hour distance.

“We’ve just got to keep growing this event and keep making it bigger and bigger, it’s one of the best circuits in the world,” Grove Racing driver and owner Stephen Grove told Asian Motorsport.

“It’s run really well, so [I] hope we can continue to grow it, it’s really good for this region, for Asia it’s great.”

New Zealand driver Jono Lester told Asian Motorsport that the region needed more endurance races.

He said the 12 Hours of Sepang and its sister event, the Shanghai 8 Hours, “gives us a couple of races that are relatively close to home that we can come and actually drive these cars in an environment that they’re made for,” he said.

“We need more, two’s still not enough but it’s a good start.”

‘It’s been such a long time coming’

For Malaysian racing driver Akash Nandy, the return of the 12 Hours of Sepang is nostalgic.

“It’s been such a long time coming for this event to come back, especially after having some time away,” he told Asian Motorsport.

“But in the past I used to come and watch this event when I was younger, when I was racing karts. Even my Dad has raced in the 12 hours of Sepang … it’s a bit nostalgic for me to be here.”

Douglas Khoo, the team principal and driver of the Malaysian team Viper Niza Racing, told Asian Motorsport he was really happy to have the race back.

“Back then a lot of entries would come for [this one] because in Asia [at] that time we didn’t have that many endurance races,” he said.

“I’m glad actually that they’re restarting it, although the grid last year and this year is not as big as we had hoped for, but I think moving forward we’ll actually start to see more and more people coming in and racing in this.”

The 2024 12 Hours of Sepang gets underway at 10 am local time on Saturday and is free to watch online.

Header image credit: 12 Hours of Sepang

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