Last weekend at Sepang saw Round 2 of the Malaysian Championship Series (MCS) take place, and we at AutoBuzz.my simply couldn’t afford to miss the adrenaline filled action. Also running in conjunction with the homegrown series was the Ferrari Challenge.
Among the few teams participating in the MCS, we caught up with Team Dream Chaser Malaysia to get a glimpse of their progress of this four-part race. The opening round did not go so well for Dream Chaser due to mechanical issues which retired one of their cars from the race.
This time, Dream Chaser was three cars strong, and they are car #12 Proton Satria Neo, piloted by female racer Geraldine Read, car #21 Honda FD2, piloted by seasoned racers Boy Wong and Alvaro Mourato and car #101 Proton Satria Neo, piloted by 17-year-old Zharfan Rahmidi. At the end of the race, Dream Chaser secured third place both the Touring Production (TP, for cars above 1,900cc) and Malaysian Touring Car (MTC, for cars below 1,600).
It was clearly an uphill struggle for Dream Chaser, but their hard work and evidently paid off. After the race, we sat down with the team to understand their journey and struggles leading to MCS round 2.
Team Leader CY Ong
According to team leader CY Ong, the team recently secured a new partnership with ST Wangan as their designated workshop to prep the cars. They also partnered with R-Engineering to specifically build the engines. These partnerships came as a big step forward for Dream Chaser because car #12 had major mechanical issues during Round 1, rendering it unable to complete the race.
The partners worked their magic to fine tune each individual cars to suit the drivers and true enough, they delivered rewarding results. Car #21 came in third for TP class, car #101 came in third for MTC and car #12 came in fourth for the individual cup.
Despite all the preparations, there were challenges that the team had to address before hitting the track. Firstly, the organisers made it compulsory for MTC class vehicles to come equipped street legal tyres instead of semi-slicks during the first round. The team spent an entire week tweaking the suspension to achieve optimum performance. Secondly, car #101 showed worrying signs of engine issues (power loss) during the practice sessions.
To mitigate this, the engineers lowered the engine’s rev limit to 6,600 rpm instead of the usual 7,700 rpm. This is to ensure that the engine would last throughout the one-hour endurance race. CY was very grateful that there were no major incidents during the race and all drivers completed the race safely. What better way to end the race with two podium finishes?
Despite a disappointing start to round 2, the ever-optimistic Geraldine Read kept her composure and remained focused throughout the weekend. Her car received a massive upgrade and modifications to better suit her driving style. Her Proton Satria Neo’s engine and gearbox were evidently smoother and reliable than the first round, and this time the race bucket seats were specifically customised to fit her 5’ 2’ frame.
With some mentoring from CY, she shaved off a massive 7 seconds off her personal best during the practice session! That goes to show that Dream Chaser and herself are only scraping the very surface of her potential. However, things weren’t all a bed of roses for the lass. During her qualifying practice, she was sandwiched in between two cars that collided into each other.
Fortunately, no one was injured but the same can’t be said for her Neo. Although the car didn’t sustain heavy damage, the alignment gave way after the minor accident. Her practice was cut short but CY commended her on the ability to accurately provide feedback to the technicians, which allowed them to work more effectively. Despite cutting her practice short, she was able to deliver promising results, finishing fourth in the independent cup and seventh overall in the MTC cup.
When we spoke to Geraldine after the race, she was grateful that the race went smoothly and safely. Although this time she did not make it up to the podium, she expressed her gratitude for the steep learning curve over the weekend. Believe it or not, Geraldine was already thinking of her next race barely an hour after the race ended! For those who would like to catch her in action, Geraldine will be at the Sepang 1,000km endurance race that is happening from 1 to 4 September 2016.
17-year-old talent Zharfan Rahmidi
New to the team is 17-year-old Zharfan Rahmidi who hails from Indonesia. Before joining Dream Chaser, he was actively involved in the motorsports scene since he was 13. Despite his age, Zharfan has quite a number of trophies under his belt – second runner up in the European Touring Car (ETC) Championship and first runner up in the Master Class of ETC Championship. A rookie he certainly is not.
Zharfan has never raced in Sepang before, so between CY and Geraldine, the Indonesian had the toughest hurdle to overcome. He has no car of his own, so he had to drive CY’s Satria Neo (previously #100 now #101). However, the challenges did not scare Zharfan away. If anything, the adrenaline made him want to tackle the challenges all the more. With his experience in motorsports, he quickly found his rhythm to the technical 5.5km track and set an astonishing time of 2 minutes 47 seconds on the second day of practice.
However, things did not go so well during qualifying. His car’s engine suffered a loss of power and had to continue the race with his revs-limited. Zharfan told AutoBuzz.my that he prayed, hoping that the engine would last throughout the race. True enough, his prayers were answered and the engine held on throughout the race. What’s more surprising is that Zharfan even made it to the podium! For a 17-year old to jump into a car not customised to his style of driving, that alone deserves praise.
What’s next for Dream Chaser?
After an eventful week at Sepang, CY was very pleased with the results but more so at the attitude of the drivers. While winning races are important, CY believes that the goal of Dream Chaser is to provide talented and deserving drivers the platform and support required to venture into motorsports. CY finds attitude a much more valuable virtue than pure driving skills.
Dream Chaser is launching an extension to their drivers programme called Dream Chaser X, which is a mentorship and subsidiary programme to allow grassroots drivers an opportunity to race at a professional level. The programme will allow independent drivers to be mentored by seasoned drivers as well as subsidising the cost to participate in a professional race.
Dream Chaser, as the name suggests, gives drivers a strong platform to chase their motorsports dreams. With their most recent success, it seems that dreams really do come true with Dream Chaser.
Final Results of 2016 MCS Round 2:
Malaysian Touring Car Independent Cup (Best lap time)
- Nick Mah (#36) – 2:45.343
- Goh Lee Heng (#93) – 2:49.754
- Zharfan Rahmadi (#101) – 2:50.606
Malaysian Touring Car Open Cup (Best lap time)
- Kenny Lee (#38) – 2:44.272
- Mark Darwin (#19) – 2:44.645
- David Mcintyre (#59) – 2:49.153
Touring Production (Best lap time)
- Fitra Eri (#16) – 2:28.432
- Abdul Kaathir/Lai Wee Seng (#23) – 2:28.496
- Boy Wong/Alvaro Mourato (#21) – 2:28.864