This weekend sees the conclusion of Season 4 of the successful Vios Challenge, a one-make series which was part of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival. After the first round was held, there was a long period of lockdown which prevented subsequent rounds (and other motorsports) from being run. When the restrictions were lifted, UMW Toyota Motor wasted no time in getting the series going again, with a night race – the first ever for the series – planned for this finale round of 2 races.
After the second round, there was no clear favourites to take the titles in each of the four classes. No less than 5 contenders had a shot of becoming the overall champion in the Super Sporting Class, Sporting Class, and Promotional Class. The same applied to the Rookie Class which is for a young group of new racers from TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Young Talent Development Program.
The most dramatic action this time round came from the Promotional Class. Shukri Yahaya pushed hard from pole position to lead the race from start to finish, as championship contender Zizan Razak struggled to hang on to second spot after having to face increasing pressure from Khai Bahar and Akio Takeyama.
The battle was clearly between Shukri, Zizan and Takeyama, and even with 2 laps remaining, the race was far from over. It seemed like Shukri’s race but Zizan suddenly shot forward to stage a last-minute challenge and overtook Shukri 3 corners from chequered flag to win!
The victory was, however, short-lived when the officials penalized the actor for exceeding track limits during overtaking. This got him a 5-second penalty, effectively relegating him back to second place with Takeyama rounding up the top three.
“I did my best to get away from Zizan as the battle behind me took place but, in the later part of the race, I did notice him coming on even stronger. It was a good fight to the finish and it was unfortunate that there was a penalty involved, but that’s racing,” said Shukri.
Of the five women taking part in this class, Talitha Tan (in her first year with the series) was the highest place, finishing fifth, followed by Janna Nick and Wany Hasrita.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
In the battle of the veteran drivers, Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang made the most of pole position to stay ahead from the start of the race. He was followed across the finish line by Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin in second spot, and Prime Pearl Auto’s Tengku Djan Ley in third.
The biggest gainer in the race was Tengku Djan who jumped from 10th on the starting grid to finish third. Despite being second quickest in qualifying, Tengku Djan was penalized and repositioned to the back of the grid due to an incident in the previous round.
“The car was fantastic at night. When we race in the afternoon, the high temperatures cause a lot of inconsistencies due to the heat and you find yourself having to manage the tyres and brakes after 10 laps. At night, the car was just perfect and I could post a lot of fast and more consistent times throughout the race,” said Ang.
For Tengku Djan, the third-place finish puts him back into contention for the overall championship after a disastrous Round 2 where he failed to finish on the podium. “We had a good car throughout the weekend and I needed to drive a clever race. I have to drive smart for the final race as I am back to 40-kg ballast which is a huge disadvantage. It’s a question of trying to make up for all the missed points in Round 2,” said Tengku Djan, also known as Malaysia’s ‘Prince of Drift’.
Late night drama also unfolded in the Sporting Class where 23 Motors’ Ady Rahimy who had run away with the race from pole position, finishing 12.3 seconds ahead of Dream Chaser’s Bradley Benedict Anthony and Dannies Ng in third position, was later handed a one-position penalty. That promoted Bradley as race winner and Ady had to settle for second.
“I want to thank my team for giving me the opportunity to race for them. I’m quite certain that fitness played a big part in tonight’s race; secondly, I did a lot of simulator training to prepare myself for the race. The team also put in tremendous effort to set-up the car but it was unfortunate that the contact resulted in a penalty. We will definitely try for another podium in the final race,” said 22-year old Ady.
The battle for third had no less than 5 contenders battling for a podium finish. Mirza Syahmi Mahzan of Aylezo Motorsports held on to third for the first 12 of the 20-lap race but came under tremendous pressure from Clement Yeo. Yeo did eventually overtook him but went wide on the exit of the last corner which saw him losing not only third place but dropping to fifth position.
“Racing at night is more chilly with lower temperatures and I tend to be a lot more patient and comfortable,” remarked Ng, who started from 12th position to run a calm and collected race into third position.
The battle of the young blood saw 14-year old Putera Adam win the 20-lap race with a 1.3-second lead from Jwan Hii and championship contender Naquib Azlan. Driving a calm and composed race, Putera raced ahead of the pack from pole position, followed closely by Hii and Naquib as Mika Hakimi relinquished his position to enter the pit to fix a technical issue. That stop dropped him to fifth position behind Amer Harris.
“The conditions were fine at night; it was drizzling towards the end of the race and everything worked in my favour. Jwan was right behind me, but he had made a slight mistake shifting gears and that that allowed me to pull ahead,” said Putera.
With the overall season class champions still to be decided, it will all come down to the final and second race tonight. There are no clear favourites with no less than 5 contenders still with a shot of becoming the overall champion in each of the 4 classes of racing being contested.
Besides the strict health measures that are followed at the circuit, UMW Toyota Motor has also implemented additional safety measures which include allowing only critical personnel and guests to be at the event. As before, the racing will be broadcast live online for race fans in Malaysia and the rest of the world. The broadcast 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.