The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival (TGR) and Vios Challenge return to the Sepang International Circuit for the finale of the fourth season this weekend (November 20/21). And adding to the excitement will be all the races being run at night – the first time for the one-make series.
After the first two round (each comprising two races), there are no clear favourites to take the titles in each of the four classes. No less than 5 contenders have a shot of becoming the overall champion in the Super Sporting Class, Sporting Class, and Promotional Class. The same applies to the Rookie Class which is for a young group of new racers from TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Young Talent Development Program.
“Season 4 will be remembered as one of the most challenging due to the pandemic and this may, to some extent, have had an impact on the performances of teams and drivers. Immediately after Round 1 in February, the country was forced into a Movement Control Order (MCO) again which lasted for 8 months. This resulted in Round 2 only being able to resume last month (October) and now the finale is this weekend,” said UMW Toyota Motor President, Ravindran K.
“At the other end of the spectrum, it has also paved the way for even closer competition. No single driver has an unassailable advantage and the champions will have to be decided in the final round. This is a task made even more challenging for the drivers it is the first-ever night race for the Vios Challenge!” he added.
“UMW Toyota Motor is committed to the series and we are extremely pleased to be able to conclude the season amidst these challenging times. The success of the Vios Challenge has largely been fuelled by the support of the participating teams and drivers as well as all race fans, and I would like to convey our utmost appreciation for making it the best and most well accepted racing series in Malaysia,” Mr. Ravindran said.
Besides the strict health measures that will be followed at the circuit, UMW Toyota Motor has also implemented additional safety measures which include continuing to restrict the race to only critical personnel and guests. As before, the weekend’s activities will be broadcast live online for race fans in Malaysia and the rest of the world. The broadcasts will be on the UMW Toyota Motor and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia websites at toyota.com.my/tgrmalaysia/, and also on the Toyota Malaysia and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia Facebook pages.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
With 55 points to his tally, M7 Japan Project Team’s Syafiq Ali finds himself in the best possible position to win this season’s overall Super Sporting Class championship. “Four points is never a comfortable margin to lead a championship, especially when it will all be decided in the last two races of the season. Anyone in the top five is more than capable of winning the overall championship – that’s just how close it is this season!” said Syafiq who, despite having only one race win to his credit this season, has been the more consistent driver with 3 podium finishes in 4 races.
He will be challenged for the title by 2-time Super Sporting Class champion and race favourite Tengku Djan Ley as well as Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin and teenager Hayden Haikal representing SpeedAddix. The dark horse is 23 Motors driver Mitchell Cheah; despite being a newcomer to the series, he drove to a dominant debut in Round 2 with a race victory and a second-place finish in the two races.
In the Sporting Class, Crestmax Motorsport’s Adam Khalid leads the overall championship with 53 points, 10 points ahead of privateer Eric Yong. In third is Clement Yeo with 36 points, followed closely by Haji Sutan Mustaffa Salihin with 33 points, and Aylezo Motorsport’s Mirza Syahmi Mahzan just 1 point behind.
Mathematically, the other 4 drivers still have shot at becoming Season 4’s Sporting Class champion so Adam is not taking anything for granted. “While it is great to be leading the championship, it will be a mistake to take things for granted when you’re in the company of the most determined racers on the grid. Qualifying well will be critical to give me a great boost in confidence leading up to the race,” he said.
Always the crowd-puller with its celebrities, the Promotional Class can be expected to see close fight between actors Zizan Razak and Shukri Yahaya who are separated by a single point going into the final 2 races of the season.
Zizan had taken the first two race victories in Round 1 while Shukri fought back valiantly to win the following two races in Round 2. “I have to go for the championship win this time. I need to prove to myself that I can do it,” said Shukri, who has been racing in the Vios Challenge since the first season. He has finishing second in the Promotional Class twice so he will be aiming to finally take the crown this year.
In third with 41 points is singer Khai Bahar, followed by TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsports Officer Akio Takeyama (39 points), and television host Nabil Ahmad in fifth a further 1 point behind.
The battle of the Rookies has so far been dominated by simulator racer Naquib Azlan who has amassed 3 race victories from the 4 races to build a commanding lead with 74 points in the overall championship. Second with 59 points is 17-year-old Amer Harris, followed closely by another simulator racer Mika Hakimi on 54 points, while in fourth and fifth are Jwan Hii and Putera Adam with 35 and 20 points, respectively.
“The Rookie Class has been the most highly anticipated this season given their reputation as newcomers in racing but all 5 drivers have produced some surprising results which underlines the credibility and success of the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program,” said Mr. Takeyama.
TGR in Sepang 1000KM Race (S1K)
Within days of this weekend’s Vios Challenge finale, Toyota GAZOO Racing Malaysia will also be joining the annual Sepang 1000KM race. The 1000-km race is expected to take 9 hours and cover 181 laps of the Sepang International Circuit.
The entries will include two cars in the MTC Production Class and SP2 production class, in addition to concurrently running the very first Vios Enduro Cup for privateers and dealer teams competing in the SP2 Production Class.
Fighting for outright victory in the MTC Production class will be the trio of Tengku Djan Ley who is also TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Ambassador, Rookie Class driver Naquib and Mr. Takeyama. The SP2 Production Class will see Rookie Class drivers Jwan and Mika partnering our very own Promotional Class driver and actor Zizan Razak.
“This will be a great way of completing this year’s racing calendar. Of course, winning the MTC Production Class will certainly be the icing on the cake! We will certainly be gunning for overall victory but we will be equally happy to finish competitively at the very top,” said Mr. Takeyama. “Joining a prestigious national series event like the S1K is also the start of extending TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s presence in Malaysian motorsports.”
In the 11 years that the S1K race has been held since 2009 to 2019, Toyota has won the race twice with private entries, both of whom used the Corolla model.