In the recent past, the motorsports sector of Bangladesh is flying over the moon and one can quite certainly argue on it is more successful than the two infamous sports called football and cricket. As it is substantial to mention, the pioneer of Bangladesh's Motorsports sector Avik Anwar has made himself compact in creating history every now and then.
On the recently concluded weekend, the most exclusive endurance race in Malaysia took place and that had Bangladesh's flag flying high. Sepang 1000km Endurance Race, shortly named S1K, is an endurance race for production cars below 1600cc which was previously known as the Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race (MMER). S1K is organized by SIC, supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia (KBS), and sanctioned by the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM).
The 2022 edition of the 9-hour race had Yokohama as the official partner and two Bangladeshi drivers named Avik Anwar and Ishayet Hossain proudly carried the Red and Green flag.
What began as bad luck for both the Bangladeshi drivers at the beginning of the long race actually ended with a great outcome. As the legends say "all is good that ends well", that is exactly what happened with the two drivers.
Avik Anwar and Ishayet Hossain had to drive a car with their third team member Andrea Checcelero, who is an Italian driver, for 1000 km with R engineering HMRT(Honda Malaysia Racing Team). They had a huge pressure going inside their minds, especially Avik Anwar, as his previous endurance race ended on P4 due to a stint of penalties during the race.
"Previously I participated in 2019 with another teammate but due to penalties for pitstop infringement, we finished 4th in our class out of 44 cars. This year our target was to simply finish the race with as few penalties as possible. Three Drivers, one car, 1000 km. Racing with R engineering HMRT(Honda Malaysia Racing Team) a huge pressure is always there to perform well as we were racing for a top team," Avik Anwar told The Business Standard
The R Engineering HMRT started the race facing difficulties from official practice with the gearbox malfunctioning under Andrea's driving stint. A quick change of the gearbox set the car out for the FP session.
Further drama ensued in Qualifying where Andrea couldn't put in a decent lap time and also got penalized for pit lane infringement under the red flag.
"All seemed gloomy for the race with this string of bad luck. The race started under the rain with Andrea starting, we qualified p16 in our class where the average time of 3 drivers was taken with my team being the fastest at 2:47:11. Every driver must finish a minimum of one stint in a three-driver stint with a maximum stint time of 75 minutes," Avik Anwar said.
Andrea could somehow finish his stint at P4 after many difficulties. Then it was the turn of the ever-green Avik Anwar who had a very good start but after lap 25 his car's alignment went to the bay as the car collided with another in the rear left tyre. However, as all great drivers do over the years of their experienced driving journey, Avik Anwar kept going and adapted his style according to the car's condition as his team instructed him to do so.
But things turned out to be even worse when Ishayet Hossain and the team's fault led the hopes of podiums into the bay due to overdriving. Yet, it is hope that keeps people alive and the hope coincided beautifully with luck as Avik Anwar had his second stint of driving still left.
Both Avik and Andrea kept their nerves and with the speed, they were attracting from the track, they kept on getting their names on the fastest laps completed continuously.
Although Ishayet had a somewhat disappointing race throughout with multiple penalties, Avik and Andrea were enough for the team to get a podium.
This P2 finish on a podium is ranked by Avik as one of his most incredible podium places as the veteran driver said: "This was one hell of a racing experience and to finish P2 with such a string of bad luck and mistakes shows the amount of pace we had as drivers. A podium of S1K equals at least five podiums of a normal series."
When no sport currently has the ability to bring the penultimate success home, one sport dealing with cars has been doing it days in and days out. Days will be gone when Avik Anwar retires and glory will be just a matter of a single English word.