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Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other

Shaun · Jun 12, 2024 05:15 PM

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 01

Racing demands discipline, dedication, effort, experience, and money. But for the Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT), things are a bit different. This team consists of employees from various departments within the organisation who participate voluntarily, without additional benefits.

This arrangement piques curiosity about their mindset and motivation. While race experience is crucial for success in motorsports, HMRT has shown that it isn't always necessary.

The team consistently includes a significant number of newcomers (currently 33 members, with 20 being new), who are guided by the seasoned members. Most of these newcomers have never even been to the Sepang Circuit.

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How was HMRT formed and why does the company involve its employees in racing?

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 01

Mr Seiji Kuraishi

Let’s start with the former. In September 2002, DRB-Oriental-Honda Sdn Bhd became Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd. By early 2003, the Melaka Manufacturing Plant began assembling the Honda City, Civic, Accord, and CR-V.

Mr Seiji Kuraishi, appointed as the second Managing Director and CEO, played a pivotal role in establishing Honda Malaysia. The Melaka Plant’s opening ceremony was officiated by Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The first car produced, a Honda CR-V, was celebrated with great excitement, reminding Mr Kuraishi of Honda’s ‘Joy of Creating.’

Inspired by this, Mr Kuraishi introduced motorsports to Honda Malaysia, forming the Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT). The team participated in the Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race (MMER) and won Class A in 2003, 2004, and 2005. The HMRT Civic also won overall in 2004.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 02

Why does the company take its employees racing? Officially, it's because the principles of racing are applicable to daily and working life. But I believe there’s more to it than that.

When talking to team members about why they take on such a demanding task despite having a "day job," they all shared a common reason: interest, or rather, passion.

Passion drives the world, fuels us to achieve our goals, and gives us the motivation and psychological drive needed to overcome obstacles and challenges. There will be obstacles, challenges, and difficult times, but it’s this fuel that keeps us going. And this effect radiates.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 03

Having spent some time with HMRT during the race weekend, this passion is palpable. Despite being new to the team, every member seemed ready to take on any task, eager even. Everyone knew what they were supposed to do and performed as if they had done it a thousand times before.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 04

Mr Thayalakumaran Dorairatnam (Kumar), Head of Technical Operations at Honda Malaysia "by day," Team Advisor at HMRT "by night"

Veterans like Mr Kirubanan Radakrishnan (Kiru), Assistant Manager of Corporate Sales Management at Honda Malaysia and Team Manager at HMRT, and Mr Thayalakumaran Dorairatnam (Kumar), Head of Technical Operations at Honda Malaysia and Team Advisor at HMRT, share inspiring and entertaining stories from their years with the team.

Unlike their archrival company, HMRT takes a discreet approach, without the luxury of inviting celebrities or renting entire circuits.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 05

Mr Kirubanan Radakrishnan (Kiru), Assistant Manager of Corporate Sales Management at Honda Malaysia "by day," Team Manager at HMRT "by night"

Their cars bear no sponsor stickers other than Hankook, from whom they had to buy tyres. Have you seen a racecar without sponsors? It raises sustainability concerns.

Without people like Kiru and Kumar, HMRT's future would be bleak as corporate doesn’t see direct returns for the budget allocated to racing. They could tighten the budget for racing, but eventually there’s only so much you can limit before it gets disbanded.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 06

If that were to happen, it would be a shame because racing teaches valuable skills like teamwork, which as stated earlier, is crucial in daily and working life.

In the racing world, rules and regulations are in place to ensure fairness and order. Just as in real life, it's your responsibility to fully understand these rules and identify any potential loopholes or grey areas to exploit. If there's a way to gain an advantage without breaking the rules, you owe it to yourself and your team to find it.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 07

It’s also an opportunity to develop employees in the fast-paced, ruthless motorsports environment, where a single mistake can cost the entire race. It teaches them to always bring their A-game. Success is a group effort, and winning is the standard by which you're judged.

On a larger scale, racing research and development can trickle down into production cars in terms of improved performance, durability, chassis, and aerodynamics.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 08

During the Malaysia Championship Series Round 2 weekend, HMRT took podiums for both races, finishing 3rd on both days. This was despite the Honda City Sedan racecar carrying a 30 kg ballast throughout the weekend for winning the previous race in Round 1.

This achievement is something to be proud of as having a car on the podium creates desirability and generates a positive perception of the car, potentially translating into sales for the production model.

Corporate sales by day, race team manager by night - The Honda Malaysia Racing Team is unlike any other 09

After the race, all team members return to their "day jobs" – as accountants, assembly line workers, corporate salespeople, etc. – likely with improved skills in communication, teamwork, efficiency, and more.

Viewing racing as just about who comes in first or last is a shallow perspective. The returns from racing are much broader, and passion should always be allowed to flourish.

Shaun

Senior Writer

The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.

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