At the stroke of midnight last night as the checkered flag waved over our second participation in the Sepang 12 Hours, the most prestigious endurance racing event in South East Asia, we had survived elements to superbly come away with another podium finish.
At the end of a long and tough twelve hours which saw heavy rain throw the race into chaos and meant it was red flagged not once but twice, the #26 B-Quik Racing Audi and our team never flinched and after an early problem set us back we tenaciously fought our way into third place as the race finally came back to full life during the dying minutes to keep our podium record in this race intact.
Behind the wheel, Henk Kiks, Daniel Bilski and Peter Kox had dug in as the afternoon turned to night and the rain kept coming, while in the pitlane our crew supported the car superbly and that all added up let us fight our way back into contention, clinch third place in GTC and take a trip to the winners’ podium.
Practice & Qualifying
It was a long and testing week in Sepang as, before the scheduled activity on track here even started, we had a lot of additional work to do as the #26 Audi R8 LMS Cup had raced in the final round of Thailand Super Series 2015, the Bangsaen Thailand Speed Festival, just a week and a half beforehand and it was then loaded into a container with our equipment and trucked to Laem Chabang Port before being shipped down to Malaysia.
By the time the ship docked and our container had cleared customs the car and all our equipment only arrived in the garage at Sepang Circuit last Wednesday morning. Three races in Bangsaen and a total of six competitive days on track meant there was a lot of work for our crew to undertake before we went out onto the circuit in Sepang. We were continually playing catch up.
With Peter joining the team for the first time we had an exciting new dimension to our operation and immediately his inclusion in the driving lineup paid off as his vast experience as well as uncompromising focus and commitment positively fed its way throughout the whole team.
Come the qualifying session and Peter’s best lap was good for P2 in GTC, behind only the brand new Lamborghini Huracán Trofeo, and as that position equated to P13 overall, it also put us into the ‘Top 15 Final Qualifying Shoot Out’ along with the GT3 category runners.
With no realistic chance of improving our class grid slot, the new Huracán has certainly taken GTC into a new technological dimension, we did however we pick up an extra place in the Shoot Out and that meant, as well as consolidating P2 in GTC, we were also up to P12 in overall terms and onto the sixth row of the grid.
Peter was in the car for the first stint and when the race started on the stroke of midday yesterday he kept it all clean and tidy and tucked in behind the #69 Lamborghini, shadowing it for the first half an hour, never falling more than a couple of seconds back. However halfway through the first stint the Lamborghini pitted and would only rejoin the race sometime later and that put Peter into the lead.
So at the end of the first hour it was looking quite promising as Peter pitted for our first scheduled stop to handover to Henk. One Dutchman for another Dutchman. But when Henk returned to the fray and slotted straight back into P1 it would turn out to be a short-lived lead as ten minutes into his stint, at 1310, he came in with a gearbox sensor issue. It was an agonising problem to have occur so early in the race and cost around 18 minutes to fix, putting us 7 laps down on the GTC leader and with a mountain to climb over the final ten and a half hours if we were going to reach the podium.
However the drivers immediately got the hammer down and pushed and pushed while being capably backed up by a crew that kept the pitstops fast and slick. We clawed a lap back and relentlessly started to move towards the podium positions.
By late afternoon we were into P4, albeit a heck of a long way off P3. But then, as we were focused on one committed fast lap after another, a huge rainstorm hit Sepang and at the organisers adjudged that they had no choice but to red flag the race, the cars coming into the pit garages to wait for the conditions to improve.
That took around two hours and at the halfway point the race resumed in light but steady rain. As nightfall rolled in over the circuit that rain continued to fall relentlessly and eventually the organisers suspended racing for a second time as the conditions deteriorated yet further. Eventually the cars returned to the track but they would spend more than an hour trailing around behind the Safety Car before racing finally resumed with a little more than the closing hour remaining.
All that significant red flag time, full course cautions and Safety Car periods hadn’t played into our hands at all, quite the opposite in fact as we needed the maximum green flag running time to try to chase down the car in P3 and snatch the final podium position.
Into the last hour and Peter had the closing stint in the #26 Audi. He dug in and started to reel off stunning lap times in the wet and dark, eventually passing the Porsche 991 GT3 Cup that occupied P3 and opening up a cushion.
At the stroke of midnight the checkered flag was waved and impressively we had third place in the bag. Our second participation in the Sepang 12 Hours, both times we have looked highly competitive and led the race and on both occasions, drivers and crew have all showed their steel and resolve to fight back from adversity and in both events we have finished on the podium of South East Asia’s most prestigious endurance race.
That podium caps a successful season for the team which includes winning the ‘Audi R8 Cup’ Amateur title, coming in our first international race series participation, as well as a clean sweep of overall titles in the Asia Classic Car Challenge and most recently a triple win in Thailand Super Series on the streets of Bangsaen.
Henk Kiks: “I’m really proud of what we have achieved this week. We came to the event with a virtually impossible schedule after Bangsaen to get the team here and then prepare the car; I don’t think any other team would try this! But that really says everything about us that everyone really wanted it to happen and we were always looking for solutions, never looking for problems. Having Peter join us was an eye opener for sure, we want to take B-Quik Racing to the next level and he’s there already, in fact he’s been there all his career, so everyone gained from him and he slotted in very well and was prepared to give us so much. The race itself was something else, it was tough and it challenged us but this is where we want to be, racing against the best, and we just dug in, slogged it out and made it to the podium. I’m very proud of my boys, they have come a long, long way, they can stand up alongside some of the best teams in the world that were in the paddock here.”
Daniel Bilski: “What an insane event, this the fifth time I’ve done the twelve hour race here and the first time we’ve had rain and did we had rain, that was really crazy! The guys did a great job to get back to a podium finish after the issues we had with the car and dealing with the red flags and yellow flags and the full course yellows, it was an extremely challenging event. I think everyone should be very proud of getting B-Quik back on the podium, two endurance races, two podiums, great job.”
Peter Kox: “I’m very happy to be back in Sepang, it’s my third time and I have a good podium record here so I wanted to keep it. It’s a long race, a lot of things can happen and in the beginning it was going good and we were in the lead and we had a small problem with the gearbox which set us back and actually through the weather we lost a lot of valuable running time to make up places. I think car and the team has done well and for sure there’s a lot of room for improvement but it was very interesting and nice to do it. [In the final hour] it was difficult as for me the car’s handling was very difficult and we could only take third, that was the only position we could make, but we managed that so I was happy with that.”
Source. FastTrack Media