Motorsports has always been a solid double helix of power and passion for German auto giant, Porsche. This ardour and enthusiasm for racing led to the debut of the first Porsche one-make cup in Germany in 1986, which later inspired the creation of the Carrera Cup series and, thereafter, the iconic 911 Carrera Cup car. Its popularity exploded globally and its expansion saw the creation of over 10 additional chapters, including Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA), which has become a testing ground for the region’s fledgling talent and a showcase for the world’s leading GT competitors.
The PCCA celebrates two decades on the track this year and is set to witness high-speed thrills across three classes: Professional, Amateur and Dealer Trophy. The last will see the dealer teams compete head-to-head as they are awarded points based on the top-performing driver. Each of this year’s entries will pilot an identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 992), an impressive machine representing the latest generation of the German marque’s iconic race car, bringing faster lap times, slicker technology and improved control. Several fresh faces will also join the series returnees as 21 contestants enter the current season. The one to look out for? Malaysia’s very own Nazim Azman.
Last month, Porsche Malaysia and Sime Darby Auto Performance officially introduced the Sime Darby Racing Team in partnership with Earl Bamber Motorsport (EBM) and the 22-year-old driver. Nazim began racing from the age of 12 at local karting championships and subsequently ventured into formula racing on international circuits in 2016. He has since clocked up more than 190 races held on some of the best motorsport circuits in the world.
Fresh from his latest stint in Formula 3 — Nazim is the first Malaysian to participate in the FIA championship — and a podium finish in the gruelling Sepang 12 Hours endurance race in March, he is now dipping his toes in GT racing for a full season in the Pro category. “I’m excited,” he said at a press conference held a week before the flag-off of the first two PCCA rounds at the Sepang International Circuit from April 28 to 30. “The support from Porsche has been amazing. The experiences so far have been great.”
Preparations were going well, according to the confident lad. “I feel very comfortable. It wasn’t as intense as F3. For me, F3 was too stressful, too much pressure. I enjoy it a lot more here.”
While competing in F3, Nazim was also in the midst of completing his final year in electronic engineering at King’s College London. It taught him discipline, a practice he wants to carry forward into PCCA. Being exposed to various races also has its advantages. “F3 and GT cars are very different. I’d say F3 cars are about half the weight of GT cars. One thing I’ve learnt is to adapt. Every year, I’ve been doing different stuff. Yes, I’ve been doing single seaters but I’ve also been in the British F3 and European F3 — it’s always a different car. To be a good racing driver, you’ve got to be fast in every car. It’s important to adapt really fast to different situations. I think a lot of the car control that I learnt from F3 I can carry on here and, hopefully, I can be successful.”
Almost a decade ago, Nazim’s father, Tan Sri Azman Yahya — of Symphony Life Bhd fame and a former Malaysian Super Series champion himself — was chosen to pilot Sime Darby Auto Performance’s PCCA debut in 2012. It is unsurprising that the thrill of the track also runs in Nazim’s blood, but for the young man, it was important that he blazed his own path. “I have people I respect in the sport,” he said, counting Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen among them. “I support anyone who’s quick. When I see them race, I take inspiration from what they do. But I don’t want to be them; I want to be my own self.”
“No matter what I do, I want to be the best. I want to have as big of an advantage as I can. For me, the strategy now is whatever I learnt in F3, I want to carry on to the Carrera Cup Asia.” Above all else, Nazim hopes to soak up experience from the PCCA. “I just want to hone my skills as much as I can and be the best racing driver I can be. This is a good place to gain a good reputation as well, being my first year. If I can prove myself in Carrera Cup Asia and in these GT races, I’m at a good point in my career where, in the upcoming years, I can, hopefully, get really good seats.”
Sime Darby Auto Performance CEO Christopher Hunter said it was an exciting time for the company as well. “We’re all about performance and passion, and we’ve got a lot of really good technicians upstairs and they love this sort of thing. Not everyone gets to work on the cars — that’s specialised — but to have the guys get behind it, it’s like being behind your favourite football or sports team. And when you know people on the team, you’re more enthusiastic. So it’s also about bringing our company together.”
It is also worth noting that Nazim’s cup car is decked out in batik-inspired livery. “He was actually considering doing the Carrera Cup in the UK. We convinced him to come back to Malaysia and participate in this series because there is a clear growth path through the talent pool programme to progress and the international exposure you get from the different countries around the region. On top of that, I mean, it’s a Malaysian thing as well. It’s a national series. We’re essentially representing the country,” said Hunter.
He is glad that EBM is lending its support. The seasoned professional motorsport team was started by Kiwi racing driver Earl Bamber. “He won the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia twice, got picked up as a Porsche works driver and then went on to win Le Mans two times.
“So what we have here is an opportunity for Nazim to follow a similar trajectory, but no pressure,” he quipped. “It would be nice to see him on the podium but again, it’s about developing young guys to progress and get on to bigger and better things on the world stage.
“It’s the first time that Sime Darby Auto Performance has done something like this as a company and I think we have a really great partnership between EBM and Nazim.”
The 2023 race calendar has started in Malaysia and will continue through South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore before finishing up at Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific’s home base in Shanghai, China.
This article first appeared on May 8, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.