Revved up for the revival of Brunei motorsports

Revved up for the revival of Brunei motorsports

BRUNEI - "The reason I'm here today is to highlight what we did, something for the history books," says the elderly man seated across me. He doesn't look tired, despite having just come in from the heat outside.

The man, (Mohd Syuraih) Suresh Jananardan, is not an unfamiliar person in Brunei. A former household name in Brunei racing sports in the 60s and 70s, he nurtures a young lion in the shape of his 39-year old son, Muhd Jeffrey Abd Suresh.

These days, Jeffrey is the man to beat in the go-kart (small version of a racing car with a minimal, lightweight frame) tracks. His overall elite championship title was wrapped up at 2013's Brunei Darussalam Karting Championship, even before the final race took place on November 17.

His father splays out a few pieces of paper on the desk in front of me, and in his piercingly sure tone, explains exactly what it is he came to tell me.

"This is the car that won the International Grand Prix in Brunei," he says, underlining with a finger an old photograph of what looks to me a vintage car.

"I was with the first people to build such a car, this 'Brunei-Tuned' car. The engine was from Cosworth England. The five-speed gearbox was from Germany ZF. Four shock absorbers. We threw away all the braking systems and put in a dual masterpump..."

I write this all down without understanding any of it but it seems to me that in 1976, a team of racing enthusiasts stripped down a Mitsubishi Colt Lancer, a car with a long and glittering history in rallies beginning from the seventies, to its bare body. They refitted it with racing parts, resulting in a speed monster that earned their car the title of Fastest Race Car in the International Grand Prix event of the year.

That is a fair bit of history, though I sense he has more to tell than his leaf in the history books.

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