Throwback Thursday – Proton Waja R3 MMER 2006

Aside from drooling on impressive GT3/LMP race machines, we also have a soft spot on our national brand being represented in the motorsport arena. One particular car that has caught our interest recently is this podium-grabbing R3-prepped Proton Waja race car.

Once upon a time, the Waja once represented our national car maker in one of the most gruelling races in Malaysia, the Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race. To those who are probably too young to remember this iconic race, it was usually held in the final days of August and it was basically 12 hours of racing around our 5.543km Sepang Circuit against not only stiff competitions, but also the challenging conditions of the circuit as well.

There are 1001 things that could go wrong in an endurance race but with a proper race team prepping up the car, great strategy, and three talented drivers behind the wheel, the mighty Waja crossed the finishing line with a respectable third place finish in class.

However at first glance, one could get the impression that the Waja’s podium journey was not that easy as it competed in a class filled with VTEC-wielding Honda Civic EGs and EKs that could lap Sepang in the 2:37 region. The Waja on the other hand, was powered by a single cam 4G18 that made around 120-horsepower and clocking around 2:40 on Silverstone slick tires. So how exactly did the Waja gain such an advantage against its rivals?

From a quick blast to the past session with Faidzil Alang, it was the rain that had shifted the odds to their side as Proton R3 made an excellent tire strategy call at the right moment. Covering significant grounds from the call, that was not the only factor as the consistent speeds of the drivers and efficiency of the pit crews also saved a lot of time and allowed them to stay ahead of the competitors.

After a gruelling 231-lap race around Sepang, the trio of Sutan Mustaffa, Zaid Idris and Hammond Lai took the final podium spot in Class C, 15th overall in the race. One fun fact about the racers was that while Sutan and Zaid are seasoned racers on Sepang, Hammond struck the jackpot as he got the race seat after being selected from Amateur Autocross events ran by R3 called “R3 Street-Shootout”. After winning the 1.8 class and going through a selection process, Hammond came out on top over 10 other drivers, earning him a full driving seat with the team.

A quick thank you to Faidzil for the valuable info about the car and the race!

Photo credits to Proton Motorsport