The excitement of the Toyota GR Velocity Esports Championship returns this weekend with the top 20 simulator racers in Malaysia vying for the honours of winning a share of the total prize pool of RM70,000. Additionally, the top three winners will go on to represent the country in the GR GT Cup Asia qualifiers organized by Toyota Motor Asia Pacific.
Most lucrative local online racing series
Billed as one of the most lucrative local online racing series in the country, the Toyota GR Velocity Esports Championship offers a cash prize of RM20,000, RM10,000, RM7,000, RM5,500, RM4,500 to the top 5 overall winners. The 6th to 10th finishers will receive RM4,000, RM3,500, RM3,000, RM2,500 and RM2,000, respectively.
There’s also a prize of RM500 each for those who finish in 11th to 20th positions. Additional cash prizes of RM450 and RM200 will be awarded to the first and second place winners in each of the two individual races.
Prior to this weekend’s semi-finals and finals, more than 800 participants from around Malaysia participated in the championship which began with qualifying rounds last month. Then came the quarter-finals which were held on September 4 and 5 to select the top 20 racers who will compete in the semi-finals on September 18. The 10 best racers will then move to the final challenge on Sunday.
Unlike previous years when the events were held in public spaces, this year’s finale will be run completely online from each competitor’s home, with the race utilizing Sony PlayStation’s Gran Turismo Sport platform. Spectators can follow the race action which will be broadcast on TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Facebook and YouTube pages and also over Astro eGG, the first eSports channel in Southeast Asia.
Racing at famous circuits
In the semi-finals, all the racers will first pilot the Toyota 2000GT (the first Japanese supercar) in a 15-minute race around the 73-year old Goodwood Motor Circuit in England, and afterwards another reversed-grid order race of the 3.8-km circuit. The third race behind the wheel of the GR Supra Racing Concept for a 30-minute race at Australia’s 6.2-km Mount Panorama-Bathurst circuit, well known for its annual 12-hour race.
The final is also a 3-race format. The first two races will see a 15-minute sprint race with racers competing in the FT-1 Vision Gran Turismo GR.3 at the 7-km Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The championship decider will be a 40-minute finale at Fuji Speedway, behind the wheel of the Le Mans-winning TS050 Hybrid, during which they must make at least one pit-stop.
The two-day semi-finals and finals will see 4 previous GR Velocity Esports Championship winners returning. They include defending champion Taj Aiman, and last year’s runner-up and third place winner Iqbal Suji and Mior Hafiz, as well as 2018 winner Muhammad Uzair. Last year, Taj finished second overall in first-ever GR Supra GT Cup Asia.
The finals will also see several racers currently competing in the Vios Challenge Promotional, Sporting, Super Sporting and Rookie classes, in an exhibition race. Having challenged each other in the first round at Sepang earlier this year, they will now have a chance to continue the duels while waiting for the series to be resumed.
During the broadcasts on the two days, there will also be interviews with the racers as well as GR Ambassador, Tengku Djan Ley and the event’s Race Director, former F1 driver Alex Yoong. The broadcast times will be 10:30 am to 6 pm on Saturday and 3 pm to 6 pm on Sunday.
Fourth year of championship
First held in 2018, the number of participants in the Toyota GR Velocity Esports Championship has grown from 400 to more than 800 this year. Last year’s event drew more than 1 million online spectators who watched the 2-day event via the Facebook and YouTube channels. Until today, UMW Toyota Motor remains the first and the only Malaysian car company to be associated with e-sports, a fast-growing activity which has even been recognised by the FIA, the world motorsport governing body.
“The momentum and the level of interest for the GR Velocity Esports Championship have grown tremendously in just 4 years. This is a huge boost for both e-sports and motorsports and we are glad that we persevered to keep the championship going despite the restrictions faced due to the pandemic,” said President of UMW Toyota Motor, Ravindran K.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsports Officer, Akio Takeyama, said the company remains committed to its aspirations of establishing a bigger footprint in Malaysian motorsports.
“In the 4 years that the GAZOO Racing brand has actively been in Malaysian motorsports, we have seen the eco-system dynamically transform. At one point, we experienced young racers joining the Vios Challenge street racing series, and then it evolved to having simulator racers not only joining the event but proving they are also capable of winning a real race. Today, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we see a growing population of professional racers not just globally but also domestically, migrating to compete online in the absence of physical events. This is a fantastic evolution for both esports and motorsports and I believe moving forward one will be dependent on the other in order to produce racers of exceptional quality,” said Mr. Takeyama.