Leona Chin

There have been women in motorsport for a long time and the FIA (the world body governing motorsport) even has a Women & Motor Sport Commission which aims to create a sports culture that facilitates and values the full participation of women in all aspects of the sport.

In Malaysia too, we have a number of women who participate in motorsport and one who has stood above the rest this year is 35-year old Leona Chin. After an impressive season-opener which saw Leona grabbing 2 wins in the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS), she was back at the Sepang International Circuit to tackle the remaining 2 rounds of the championship.

While Round 3 ran in a similar format as the first 2 rounds, the final round came with a different challenge where it was a 300-km endurance race, with double points to the finishers. It was on this final showdown that Leona and her team pulled together to not only win the race, but also collected enough points to be crowned as the Overall Champions in the Malaysia Touring Car (MTC) category. However, the journey to the top was not an easy one as the journey was littered with challenges that could easily alter the course of the race.

A satisfying finish
The start of Round 3 was not what the team was hoping for as troubles had appeared on the car which had hampered the driver’s pace during practice session. Unfortunately, due to a tight schedule, there was not enough time to rectify the issue before qualifying, and the pouring rain just made things a bit more challenging. Despite these setbacks, the 2:43.236 clocked during qualifying was good enough to earn them a P3 in class to start the race in.

But the streak of bad luck did not end on the first day as in Race 1, Leona encountered some misfiring issues which had forced them to spend extra time in the pits for repairs. While the team did their best to fix the problem, the same issue lingered after they rejoined the race. The extra time spent in the pits meant they were two laps behind the race leader, forcing them to settle with a P7.

However, their luck was about to turn the other way around as the few hours before Race 2 were put into good use by the crew to return the car into optimal condition. This time, Akina Teo started the race and he played it safe during the start as the mixed conditions of the track resulted in some nasty crashes in the early stages.

Once the cars were scattered, Akina got to work and started to make up positions along the way. Backed up with vital information provided by the team manager, he was soon pursuing the MTC front runner for the race lead. Making the move at the final few laps, Akina performed a clean overtake on his opponent and brought home another win for the team.

Crowning of the champion
With 2 races down, the focus was shifted to the final 300-km race as the double points finish could play a big role in the championship decider. Akina drove the first stint and he put in a good pace before passing the wheel to Leona. While the team did encounter a few issues along the way, the problems were ironed out quickly and Leona was able to resume the strong pace that the team carried.

This race however came with a bittersweet moment as with 10 laps to go, MTC race leader car #15, which was also under the same outfit as Leona, was involved in a crash at Turn 4. This was no doubt a disappointing news to the team, but it had also reignited the possibility for Leona to win the championship title. Before the crash, they had done an early points calculation which had put Leona as the 1st runner-up for MTC.

At this stage, all they had to do was to bring the car home as the nearest rival was one lap behind. Finally, after 52 laps and over 2 hours of racing, the #7 Suzuki Swift crossed the line not only as the 300KM MTC race winner, but also as the Overall Champions for the category. It was a big moment of joy and relief for Leona who had been chasing the title for years.

“We were all very happy when the results came out. We have been in the industry for many years and were always looked down upon. Today is redemption!” she said.

It has been a fruitful year for Leona as she not only clinched the 2021 MCS MTC Overall Champion title but also won the prestigious 2021 Sepang 1000KM Endurance Race which was held earlier in November. “The achievement for today and this season is not just about the driver, but also about teamwork. Everyone in the team really helped a lot in the strategy, and also in preparing a really good car,” she added.

Final battles of 2021 Malaysian Championship Series to be held on December 15 & 16

The return of the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) gave a chance for Leona Chin to get back to 4-wheel racing after her last outing in 2019. Although these first 2 rounds did come with a roller-coaster of emotions, the whole team was able to put together a great performance which rewarded them with two class victories.

Leona is competing in the Malaysia Touring Car category in a Suzuki Swift prepped by Tedco Racing. The practice session on Wednesday gave the team the chance to fine-tune the car before heading into the qualifying session.

Starting on a high note
Going against other rivals in cars like the Honda Fit and Toyota Vios, her best time of 2:39.944 around the Sepang International Circuit positioned her in the front of the MTC class to start Race 1.

Although Leona was overtaken at the start of the race, she kept a cool head in the opening stages as every MCS race runs for 1 hour. It did not take long for her patience to be rewarded: by Lap 4, she reclaimed her position and led the MTC category. After a smooth pit stop and clean second stint, she brought the car across the finish line to claim the season’s first victory almost a minute ahead of the nearest competitor.

Being a double-header, Race 2 was only 4 hours later and already fired up with the victory, they looked forward to another possible podium finish for Round 1. The win in Race 1 had placed Leona to start from pole in class once again and she managed to clear the early stages of the race without any hitch.

Unfortunately, Race 2 did not go very well for the team as Leona was nudged at one point of the race which had sent her into the gravel. Although the impact did not seem to be very serious, there was actually damage to the oil cooler and splitter – which was enough to put her out of contention for the race.

With two more races lined up for the next day, the team had to burn the midnight oil to make sure that the car was raceworthy for the next round. Tedco Racing’s experience was put to good use and the car was prepared and ready to do battle by Friday.

Returning to the top
For Race 3, Leona started the race from P1 in class. Keen to redeem herself from the DNF earlier, she made a clean getaway as the lights turned green. Unfortunately for her, she was forced to retire from the race once again through no fault of her own. A reckless manoeuvre from one of the SP2 contenders struck her Suzuki near the right rear tyre, ending her race even before clearing Turn 1 on the opening lap. A very sad moment indeed.

This presented a whole new challenge for the team as they only had about 4 hours to fix the car before the start of Race 4. But they managed to do it all in time, and the Leona was able to participate in the final race.

The DNF in Race 3 meant that Leona had to start from the back in her class, which was not so good. However, fuelled with the determination to make up for lost ground from the previous misfortunes, she did not stay long in P5. By Turn 4 of the opening lap, she was already in second place and on Lap 3, she had moved ahead to lead the MTC field. From then on, she remained dominant and raced to the finish to take her second MTC win of the season. With 4 races done, the team is now preparing for another 2 rounds which will be held in mid-December.

What’s a Homologation Special?

Legacy Racing will make its GT World Challenge Asia debut this year with an Am class-entered Mercedes-AMG GT3. The Malaysian team is run by Tedco Racing, which has previously competed in national championships but will now make its pan-Asia debut with two familiar faces – Leona Chin and Tengku Djan Ley.

The team will begin its GT World Challenge Asia campaign on home soil at the Sepang International Circuit on March 28/29 and then continue to Thailand, Japan and China for the other rounds of the 11-race championship.

Legacy Racing

The ‘Prince of Drift’
Tengku Djan’s racing career spans 24 years, with participation in Japan’s Super GT series as well as back-to-back Merdeka Millennium Endurance victories at Sepang. However, he didn’t earn the nickname ‘Prince of Drift’ for nothing – he was crowned Formula Drift Asia champion in 2009 and 2010, and finished seventh in last season’s FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup.

“I’m looking forward to a great season with a new, all-Malaysian team,” he said. “We hope to be competitive in the Am class, but both Leona and I are new to GT racing. And it’s not going to be easy as GT World Challenge Asia has the highest level of competition in the region.”

Legacy Racing

First GT3 drive for Leona Chin
As for Leona, her racing experience includes stints in the Mini Challenge Asia Series, Renault Clio Cup China and Malaysian Championship Series, where she finished second in the last season. “It was always a dream to race in any GT championship so to now have an opportunity in Asia’s most prestigious GT series is pretty amazing,” she said.

“It’s going to be a tough and challenging year as it will be my first time racing a GT3 car, let alone the beautiful Mercedes-AMG. But I’m also very excited about visiting new circuits that I’ve never previously raced at. Competing in GT World Challenge Asia will provide me with great experience at a very high level of racing,” Leona said.

Team boss Kelvin Liang acknowledges that they are newcomers to GT World Challenge Asia and GT racing. “Generally, we will need to dig deep to catch up with the rest of the established teams and drivers. Success, however, will be sweeter being an all-Malaysian team of drivers and crew,” he said.

GT World Challenge Asia

Following two seasons that surpassed all expectations, GT World Challenge Asia’s format and regulations – originally based around the British GT Championship’s – will remain largely unchanged in 2019, albeit with one key difference. The series brings together a mix of GT3 and GT4 machinery, while GTC cars are also eligible to compete at the 12 hour-long races.

GT World Challenge Asia 2020 Calendar


Team Proton R3’s third consecutive win in the recent Sepang 1000km (S1K) race certainly grabbed headlines but also deserving praise was the was the impressive result for the team’s third car. This was a Saga with an all-ladies crew comprising Faye Kusairi, Nurul Husna and Leona Chin.

Unlike the other R3 drivers, Faye and Nurul did not have prior experience of competing in the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS). They were selected via the team’s lady drivers search initiative. Leona, however, is a professional racer who has been competing in the MCS.

2019 Sepang 100km Proton R3 (3)

From 26th to 7th
In the tough 9-hour race, the trio put in a fine effort after starting from 26th position to finish a respectable seventh. A demonstration of team spirit and skill, the 2019 S1K was in fact the first time all three shared the same car.

2019 Sepang 100km Proton R3 (4)
Ready to battle in the 2019 S1K!

2019 Sepang 100km Proton R3 (3)

Despite their unfamiliarity with each other, the inherent speed of all three was evident during practice sessions for the race. They were consistently setting times that put them in the top eight. Their qualifying session however was compromised by a small technical issue, consigning them to start from the back of the M-Production class grid. Nevertheless starting 26th did not dampen their spirit and during the race, they drove with great skill and patience, methodically working their way up through the field.

“The S1K was extremely memorable and surreal for me. I am amazed we finished seventh from 26th on the grid but it proves how quick the Proton Saga and our trio of drivers really is. To be honest, I really feel that if we were given another chance, I think we can make it up on to the podium,” said Faye.

“Our lady race drivers performed admirably and drove really well to mount a great comeback from their low grid position. To finish seventh in what is one of the toughest S1K races in recent memory is a great achievement and the best finish ever achieved at the race for an all-ladies driving crew,” said a delighted Gary Lee, Head of Team Proton R3.

2019 Sepang 100km Proton R3 (3)

Proton Saga proves racing prowess
Despite being R3’s newest car, the 2019 Proton Saga has already proven its ability to be a quick track car. The short development cycle (the model was launched in August this year) meant the team faced a tremendous challenge to get it ready on time, but the results have proven how suitable the Saga is for motorsports.

“The Proton Saga is a model synonymous with Proton and was the very first model the company used for motorsports. In more recent times, we favoured other models but last year we started using it again for the MCS and S1K in 2018. This year’s car is brand new and despite the very short timelines, the results have been very impressive. This therefore proves the Proton Saga is capable of performing in a variety of environments, from daily commuting to family outings and competing in Malaysia’s biggest race, making it truly a Malaysian favourite,” said Dr Li Chunrong, CEO Of Proton.

Proton R3 wins Sepang 1000km again – that’s 3 years in a row!



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2018 is starting well for local racer-gal Leona Chin. Following her placing as second overall in the Renault Clio Cup China Series in 2016 and a 1 year hiatus, she’s back at it again in the newly-launched MINI Challenge Asia Series. This one-make race featuring the MINI F56 JCW – a 255hp, sequential gearbox equipped race car based on the road-going F56 JCW.

The MINI Challenge Asia Series sees the world-renowned MINI one-make race series making it’s way to Asia, with the hopes that it will eventually grow in scale to match that of the series 17 years history in the UK.

Over the course of the weekend, Leona proved she could tangle with some of the best drivers in the region. Two notable opponents were Nobuhiro Murata, a Japan Super GT driver, and Nattanid ‘Kat’ Leewatanavalagul, current best female driver from Thailand. For this round, Leona is racing under Team GreatDrive – a well-established Hong Kong based automobile importer.

The first leg of the series was held at Zhuhai International Circuit – a track that Leona is familiar with herself given her past racing experience in China. During free practice Leona managed to clock a time just 1 second off the top spot. The field was separated by 16 seconds, with the top 5 drivers placing within 7 seconds of each other. Murata did not manage to finish qualifying as he went off the track during his session.

When it came time to race, Leona’s competitor pulled slightly ahead during Race 1, she finished the race with a 4th place standing, just half a second behind Takaya Tsubobayashi. For Race 2 the positions were shuffled once again., and Leona took the opportunity to overtake Tsubobayashi for a 3rd place finish, just 1 second behind Nobuhiro Murata. During the race she also managed to set a fastest lap time of 1:54.188, roughly half a second quicker than Henry Lee Jr. who took victory over the weekend.

Following the end of Race 1 and 2, Leona felt positive about the outcome and the coming races. “I would like to thank GreatDrive for giving me the opportunity to compete in this round of MINI Challenge Asia Series. The car performed well during both races, really easy to drive and light on its feet.” she said. “It’s a nice step up from the Clio cup car I raced 2 years ago. I’m looking forward to the next round on the 16th and 17th June, which also be at Zhuhai International Circuit.”

Leona Chin has been involved in cars and motorsports since her teenage years. She has had experience in various levels of motorsports, competing both within Malaysia and overseas as well, along with off-track exploits such as Gymkhana, Autocross, Rallying and – most notably of all – drifting.

She currently has roles both as a driver and a manager for teams in various series, and is continuously honing her skills and looking for new challenges.



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