Race Day One (6 May 2023)
The Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Sprint Cup is not just about speed and skill, but also about teamwork and strategy. Race 1 of the Gazoo Racing Vios Sprint Cup was won by the Laser Motor Racing team of Eddie Lew and Amer Harris at Sepang International Circuit.
The Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) event, the GR Vios Sprint Cup, which is only in its second year, consists of two 1-hour races on Saturday and Sunday. Teams of two drivers are vying for RM60,000 in total prize money each racing weekend.
The winner of the overall championship in each of the two races at the GR Vios Sprint Cup will receive RM10,000 in cash, followed by the first runner-up who will receive RM8,000, the third-place finisher RM6,000, and the fourth and fifth-place finishers RM4,000 and RM2,000, respectively.
The GR Vios Sprint Cup is a one-make series, and as everyone is driving similarly prepared race cars, the focus is on driving prowess, experience, and racecraft.
Lew was the only senior driver among the top 14 competitors in the one-hour race, which was heavily influenced by the involvement and boldness of new drivers. The race started with a total of 20 vehicles or 40 drivers. Inigo Anton and Ariff Azmi of Axle Sports came in second and were 2.5 seconds back, while Freddie Ang and Tungwei Hsiao of Telagamas Toyota came in third and were 18 seconds back.
However, the day’s best drive came from Gazoo Racing rookie Ariff Azmi and Filipino driver Inigo Anton. Though he started the race from third on the grid and fell as far back as seventh, Philippines Vios Cup winner Anton nevertheless responded to the challenge and finished on the podium in his debut race in Malaysia.
“Racing the Toyota Vios at the Sepang International Circuit is fantastic. I’ve never been here before, and the competition has been fierce. It’s been exciting, even though the car is a little different from how I’m used to driving back in the Philippines. The 18-year-old, who is participating in Malaysia for the first time and is regarded as one of the most well-known race car drivers in the Philippines, said, “I would definitely like to be back and I’ll make sure to encourage my other Filipino drivers to join.”
Race Day Two (7 May 2023)
With no less than four drivers competing for the top three podium spots and the lead changing many times with five laps to go, Race 2 of the GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup at the Sepang International Circuit came down to a nail-biting finale.
Dramatic beginnings were also seen in the one-hour race. A collision heading into the opening corner of the race forced Kulim Top Wheel’s Foo Yung Chieh into the barrier with up to five cars in front of him. This brought out the safety car for two laps.
At the restart, Timothy Yeo of Axle Sports held onto the lead from pole position for six circuits until relinquishing it to Mitchell Cheah of Prima Pearl TD Racing. Jwan Hii of Laser Motor Racing was in third. Yeo was the first to pit for the required driver and tyre change, and when teammate Hayden Haikal took over for the next stint, the team rejoined in 11th place with the advantage of having already stopped.
Cheah, on the other hand, continued to race for a further five laps before completing his pit stop to make room for Mika Hamiki to take the wheel. His pit stop allowed Putera Adam of Laser Motor Racing to take the lead, just ahead of a charging Hayden, with a second Axle Sports vehicle driven by Inigo Anton coming in third. Mika surprised everyone by leaving the pit ahead of the three battling competitors to recover the lead in the race just as we were beginning to believe that these three would be the ones to win it.
Everything, however, changed with five circuits left as Hayden overtook Putera Adam for the second position and then Mika for the lead. Hayden ultimately triumphed by a margin of 1.5 seconds.
While Putera Adam and Mika fought it out in the final corner for the two remaining top podium spots, Inigo came out on top to take second place. Mika had to settle for fourth place as Putera Adam ultimately crossed the finish line in third.
“It was an incredibly intense race. I saw the carnage occurring behind me and I just took advantage of that to try to build a healthy lead ahead of our scheduled pitstop,” said 26-year-old Yeo.
“The strategy to pit early worked in our favour and when I came out of pit lane, I could see Mitchell just ahead of me. That made my task easier instead of having to chase him down for several laps.
Towards the end of the race, I just had to be patient. I knew I had a better pace and after Putera made a slight mistake I seized the opportunity to push ahead,” said Hayden.
This year, the GR Vios Sprint Cup will have two rounds, the second of which will take place at the Sepang International Circuit from June 23 to 25.