Even before the excitement of the last round of Season 4 of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival/Vios Challenge has faded away, GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Vios racing cars are going into battle again. This time, it is not a one-make races and the team will be up against other models in the Sepang 1000KM Endurance Race (S1K) this weekend.
The annual race will also see the running of the inaugural Vios Enduro Cup for privateers and dealer teams competing in the SP2 Production Class.
GAZOO Racing Malaysia will field a two-car entry in the MTC Production Class and SP2 production class. Fighting for outright victory in the MTC Production class will be the trio of 3-time Vios Challenge Super Sporting Class champion and also GAZOO Racing Malaysia Ambassador, Tengku Djan Ley. He will be teamed up with newly-crowned Vios Challenge Rookie Class champion, 20-year old Naquib Azlan, and GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsports Officer, Akio Takeyama.
The S1K race will be the first for Naquib who, up until last year, had only been racing online behind the wheel of a simulator. He was one of six drivers recruited into the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program and later provided with the opportunity to compete in the Rookie Class for young drivers.
The SP2 Production Class, meanwhile, will see the combination of Vios Challenge Rookie Class drivers Mika Hakimi and Jwan Hii partnering Promotional Class driver, actor and Season 4’s first runner-up Zizan Razak. Zizan proved to be a worthy contender in this year’s Vios Challenge Promotional Class races by clinching podium finishes in all races. Being the most experienced racer amongst the SP2 Production Class team, Zizan is expected to bring his A-game and winning attitude as well as flair into the race.
Mika and Jwan finished had third and fourth overall respectively in the recently concluded Vios Challenge, and will also be making their debut in the S1K. Like Naquib, both drivers are also graduates of the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program. Mika, 17, also has a background of simulator racing while 18-year-old Jwan’s racing experience had been karting before having a chance at cars.
“The two entries in S1K are to fulfill several objectives if you look closely at the driver line-up. Yes, we will be gunning for both outright and class victories; it is also the start of expanding GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s presence in Malaysian motorsports, but the participation is also to provide a platform for new, talented and especially young drivers to race in an even more competitive environment beyond the Vios Challenge,” said Mr. Takeyama, who has also been racing in the Vio Challenge for all 4 seasons.
The Vios Enduro Cup will run concurrently with the S1K and is designed to bring the Vios Challenge race cars and its drivers beyond their traditional hunting grounds. The Cup will offer a first prize of RM10,000.00, while the second and third place winners stand to win RM8,000.00 and RM6,000.00 respectively. A cash prize of RM4,000.00 and RM2,000.00 is also up for grabs for the fourth and fifth place finishers in the race.
Unlike the short races of the Vios Challenge, the S1K is a 1,000-km race which can cover up to 181 laps and take around 9 hours. It is also held at the Sepang International Circuit. In the 11 years that the race has been held (2009 to 2019), Toyota cars have won the race twice with private entries behind the wheel of an AE86 in 2010 and a Corolla Altis in 2011.