Honda Malaysia, in further promoting the Merdeka spirit, will field an entirely all-Malaysian team for this weekend’s Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) 2008 race.
To be held at the Sepang International Circuit near here, the Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT) will also be aiming for its sixth straight win after winning the Class A (production cars above 1900cc) category in the last five years.
Honda Malaysia will enter two Civic Type R, which had been locally-built at its plant in Pegoh, Melaka, for this years competition, where more 100 cars, including Porsches, Aston Martins and Lotuses, will take part.
The annual 12-hour race, which began in 2000, is divided into four categories: Open for modified racing cars, A for production road cars with engine capacity exceeding 1900cc, B for production road cars with engine capacity exceeding 1600cc and C for production road cars with engine capacity below 1600cc.
Atsushi Fujimoto, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Honda Malaysia, said the greatest challenge for HMRT in 2008 was to achieve local competency.
“Preparation for this years MME was even tougher as we were independent of assistance from our Japanese counterparts,” he said.
Last year, HMRT members were supervised by Mugen from Japan throughout the whole process. This year HMRT has a combined strength of 34 members, all of whom are employees of the Pegoh Honda plant.
Fujimoto said endurance tests such as the MME provide an excellent opportunity for Honda employees to continuously improve and challenge their own limits.
“The skills they hone in being a HMRT member are carried onto their daily jobs in the Malaysia Boleh spirit,” he said.
HMRT will have two new drivers this year, Victor Cheong and Faisal Asri, who join four drivers from last year, Eddie Lew Kar Wai, Rueben Wong, Fahrizal Hasan and Aaron Lim.
Driver Fahrizal said racing was not all about the machine itself. “It works by a set of team, which comprises the drivers, the car and the men working behind it,” he said.
Syahril M. Azmi, HMRTs Technical Advisor, said the company was giving opportunities to more new employees to learn new skills and knowledge that can then be applied to their daily jobs.
Irwan Abdul Hamid, a technician in the company’s Facility Maintenance, Manufacturing Division, said he was fortunate to be selected for training in Japan last year as he learnt new techniques and working and handling tools in the correct manner.
“And most important of all, they (Japanese) taught us management. For example, when we want to do anything, we need to think ahead so that work becomes more systematic. We have to develop ourselves to plan and manage our own work process and flow for better results.
“HMRT also taught us to always put safety first, in particular to think of others when we are doing anything. So, it is not just our own safety that we need to think about, we also need to take care of the safety of all our team-mates.”
Mohd Faizul Mohd Ghazali, a newcomer to HMRT, said being in HMRT required punctuality and a lot of discipline.
“This training will be useful and will be carried on in my daily work after MME. I can’t wait to share my experiences in HMRT with my fellow associates at the plant because the cars we produce are also for export and high standard is required in our work.
“To be given the opportunity makes me very proud and I am determined to show that Malaysians can overcome challenges and produce good work.”
The Honda factory in Pegoh started operations in 2003 and produces the City, Civic, Accord and CR-V models.- BERNAMA