Sepang International Circuit

The Malaysian Championship Series (MCS) 2021 heads into its final double-header with Round 3 and Round 4 to be run on December 15 and 16. It’s been a challenging year for the drivers and teams, not to mention the disruption caused by the extended suspension of activities due to the pandemic. The MCS 2021 will be the last action from 4-wheel racers to conclude the National  Championship calendar for 2021.

For Race 1 and 2 in Round 3 (Wednesday), the drivers will be competing for a total of 22 laps.  Race 1 starts at 10:30 am, while Race 2 will be from 3:30 pm. The next day will see Round 4 starting at 11:15 am with the competitors racing 54 laps around the 5.543 km Sepang International Circuit.

After Round 2, Alif Hamdan and Lai Wee Sing from R Engineering HMRT remain unbeaten as they are the only entry in the Touring (T) Production category. Leona Chin from the Tedco Racing team spearheaded the Malaysian Touring Car (MTC) Production, leaving Muhammad Roni Risman and his partner, Shaifulnizam from Dori’s Racing team in second place and the pairing, Natasha Seatter and Nurul Husna from Niza Racing team finished in third place.

In Stock Production 1 (SP1), Shazull Hisham and Mohd Syahrizan, from the Empire M Racing team  took the chequered flag, with Ken Urata from Rworks in second position. Chiow  Teck Song from R Engineering HMRT team finished in third place to join them on the podium.

As for Stock Production 2 (SP2), the perfect combination of Hayden Haikal and Adam Khalid in the Honda Fit GK5 throughout the 22 laps of the race earned them the class victory. Putera Adam from R Engineering HMRT finished in second position, while Eddie Lew Kar Wai and William Ho from the Tedco Racing team were in third place.

The MCS 2021 is organised by Sepang International Circuit (SIC), supported by the Ministry of Youth  and Sports, sanctioned by the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM). The Official Tyre Distributor is Yokohama while BHPetrol is the Official Fuel Partner.

Spectators (18 years old and above) are permitted to watch the races and can gain free entrance at the SIC Main Grandstand. As per government regulations, they must be fully vaccinated and show their certificates. SIC reminds everyone that they must adhere to all Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines imposed by the National Security Council to curb the spread of COVID-19. Facemasks should be worn at all times and social  distancing (minimum 1 metre apart) must be maintained.

If you cannot go to the track, you can still watch the last battles of MCS 2021 live on SIC’s Facebook page.

Strong start for Leona Chin in Malaysia Championship Series

The Porsche World Road Show is a unique event that takes place the world over.

It is held at circuits that allow a driver to fully exploit a Porsche’s potential.

And when it comes to the Cayenne, rather than on-circuit driving, the now iconic SUV is driven on dirt tracks to show off its off-roading capabilities.

The PWRS in short, was recently held at the Sepang International Circuit.

And the entire circuit was booked, because half-track driving in a Porsche is borderline nonsense.

The cars were pretty amazing too – we got to spend time behind the wheel of the Cayenne, Macan GTS, Macan Turbo, Taycan Turbo and the Taycan Turbo S.

The star of the show though was the new 992 Porsche GT3. A car so brilliant that it deserved an article of its own, which you can read here.

Our day started in the Taycan Turbo S – a car deemed as the hardest accelerating electric car ever built.

It does the 0-100km/h in just 2.8 seconds, and reaches a top speed of 260km/h.

The electric motors that power the car are also some of, if not the best in the industry.

The motors give the car 622hp and 1050Nm of torque.

But with the overboost function selected, the car puts out a staggering 750hp!

Of course, such amazing capabilities doesn’t come cheap – the Taycan Turbo S costs an eye watering RM1.15 million!

Then we hopped into the Taycan Turbo.

I do wish we would have done it the other way around though.

Because after the brutality of the Turbo S – the Taycan felt subdued. Like a hungover horse being asked to gallop.

But despite that, it too puts out some unworldly numbers.

It too offers 622hp but torque stands lower at 850Nm.

However, unlike the Turbo S, the Turbo puts out 670hp when you select the overboost function.

The Turbo though is slightly more affordable than the Turbo S, with prices starting from a little over RM963,000.

This was the first time I got to drive both Taycans.

There was a similar drive event held at SIC when Porsche introduced the Taycan to the Malaysian market earlier this year.

But back then, we had passed our seat to legendary Malaysian rally driver Karamjit Singh to get his thoughts on a car the world was raving about.

You can watch that video below.

As a first timer behind the wheel of the Taycan, it was the acceleration that really blew me away, especially in the Turbo S.

Handling too was sharp but that is to be expected of a Porsche.

But you really do feel the weight of the car because the Taycan weighs over two tons.

You feel this going into corners, but then the acceleration more than makes up for it.

The brakes too felt spongy, but that is a typical character of electric and hybrid cars as the brake pedal also regenerates the batteries.

So you don’t really feel the initial bite of the brakes, and if you get caught out by it, you could end up with an expensive repair bill.

But once you learn to trust the brakes though, you realise that behind all that sponginess is the same iconic Porsche anchors that the German marque is so well known for.

We later jumped into the Cayenne for a spot of off-roading.

The off-road section was a purpose built course on the outskirt of the SIC.

The course was initially designed for dirt bikes.

But it was also a perfect place to display the Cayenne’s off-roading abilities.

In just about 300-500 metres, we found out that the Cayenne could hold its own in gravel, some loose mud, and some very uneven surfaces.

This involved some dabbing on the massive touch screen at the centre to raise the ride height of the Cayenne.

And some further dabbing was needed to tell the Cayenne that you were about to take it off-road.

And then you drive.

The off-road section is where the Cayenne truly put on a show as it sent power to wheels that were planted on the ground.

And sent zero power to wheels that were hanging in the air.

Intelligent is an understatement.

But I wasn’t too surprised here, because the Cayenne has already been proven to be a very capable off-roader plenty of times before.

If you didn’t already know, a couple of years ago, a few rally teams had contested the Cayenne in the gruesome Trans-Siberian rally that takes place in Russia, Siberia and Mongolia every spring.

It is a hardcore 4,400km rally where only road-legal cars with a few modifications are allowed.

The Porsche Cayenne won that race three years in a row.

There’s even a special edition Cayenne to commemorate that feat.

So there really is no better testament to the Cayenne’s off-roading capabilities than that.

But the Cayenne is unlikely to be used in such a manner, but just in case you needed to drive your Cayenne to the end of the world, know that you could.

After spending time with the Cayenne, we jumped into the Macan – a baby-SUV named after a Tiger.

This is another SUV that does not need any introduction, but it was a refreshment of sorts to show what it is really capable of doing when the road opens up.

First the Macan GTS.

I love Porsche’s GTS models because it’s a nod to what cars were like in the past.

Fun beasts that make you miss the old times when men drank their whisky (or whiskey if you’re so inclined) without worrying about it being fake, and chased girls without their antics being posted on social media.

There was a time when the GTS models were pure naturally-aspirated models.

But times have changed and the Macan GTS is now a twin-turbo’d V6 model with a 2.9-litre engine putting out 437hp and 550Nm of torque.

It’s still capable of some brutal numbers though with the 0-100km/h sprint seen off in a little over four seconds with a top speed rated at 272km/h.

These are numbers that were once associated with the top of the line Macan Turbo.

Of course, we were not given a chance to fully exploit its potential.

Just enough to tell you that acceleration was fantastic, and that it makes some encouraging sounds along the way, and that for an SUV that weighs a little under two tons, it actually handles quite well.

I was quite surprised by the brakes though because they lacked that initial bite.

Porsche didn’t give us the spec sheet of all the cars we drove but I suspect the Macan GTS had regular brakes fitted rather than the optional Porsche Surface Coated Brakes or the Ceramic Brakes. Both optional of course.

The Macan Turbo though was a whole different ball game, and that’s the car we got to drive next.

The Macan Turbo is the big dog of the Macan line-up. The Macan you want to have.

It offers the same performance figures as the Macan GTS, and that’s because the updated Turbo model is yet to be introduced.

Despite that, the driving experience between the two is vastly different.

Both cars have twin-turbo engines.

But the engine note in the Turbo is deeper while the GTS has a screaming engine note that mimics a naturally-aspirated engine.

It almost sounds like the sound has been artificially induced and piped into the cabin through the speakers, similar to what Porsche has done with the Taycan.

Artificially induced sounds are not new to the industry, but it is a bit of a let down because there’s nothing better than a raw engine note. Not what a car maker thinks an engine should sound like.

But it is what it is.

And that is quickly overlooked as you put your foot down and the car lurches forward before your brain even registers what is going on.

Jumping from the GTS into the Turbo, we really didn’t think the difference will be all that big. But it is truly vast.

Perhaps it is the way that power is delivered, or how the sound is generated. But the performance in the Macan Turbo is how a Porsche should ideally perform.

Brakes too are much more confidence inspiring in the Turbo model we drove.

We found ourselves braking later and turning in deeper into a corner. A true performance machine the Macan Turbo definitely was.

And that is no surprise considering the Turbo is the flagship model of the Macan line up.

Our experience at the Porsche World Road Show at SIC ended with the Macans.

And though it was similar to the one we attended in 2018/2019, it was still perfectly laid out for us to experience Porsches at their finest.

And if there is one thing we can say about modern Porsches, it is that they are a complete paradox.

On one side you have a race car for the road with the GT3.

And on another side you have a tree-hugging electric supercar in the Taycan Turbo S.

Then you have the ultra-capable go anywhere Cayenne.

And the Macans are the cute in betweens if you don’t want something too big but with fun performance.

If there is one car maker that is completely future-proof to whatever may come in the next 10 years, it would be Porsche.

And there are rumours that Porsche may make an entry into the wonderful world of Formula 1.

Either as an engine supplier or as a works team remains to be seen.

Whatever comes, it is an awesome time to be a Porsche owner.

Keeping up with Porsche can hurt the brain.

At one point the company is winning races with some of the greatest race cars of our generation with full fledged internal combustion engines.

And at another point, the company is building the most efficient and fun to drive electric cars the world has seen.

It almost seems like the company is caught in a conundrum of sorts. But it is definitely a future proof approach to the current problems faced by manufacturers.

Porsche has not lost sight of its roots either, as this writer found out during the recent Porsche World Road Show that took place at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) recently.

Part of the event included a single lap around SIC with the GT3.

But of course there was a lead car. Porsche Malaysia doesn’t trust local motoring journos to go out on their own after some local publications couldn’t return the Porsches given to them in the same way they received it. Putting it lightly there.

I don’t blame their distrust. I was just happy to get to drive the GT3. One lap or not. Lead car or not.

The Porsche GT3 is the road going race car you want but without the extremities of the GT3RS or the manic attitude of the GT2.

It doesn’t have the roll cage of the RS, or the bullish attitude.

But it still has the eagerness, that front end whose only responsibility is to steer and as such feels like a living, breathing extension of your arms.

This time though, in 992 guise, the GT3 feels like it knows what you are about to do even before you know it yourself.

Perhaps this is telepathic  character that has been engineered into the car from decades of racing.

And since the GT3 is essentially a race car for the road that actively participates in various race series around the world, you can think of the 992 GT3 as a moving, roaring archive with the collective knowledge of racing drivers from all around the world.

And the result is one of the greatest driving experience you will ever have.

It is the summary of an engineering marvel of an engine, perfect handling and tyres that will stick to a wall when hot.

But in the 992 GT3, you can add advanced aerodynamics to the mix because it features strategically placed vents and a new, massive rear wing that sucks and pushes the car down in corners.

What this ultimately results in is a car that goes anywhere your nose points without a moment of hesitation.

This wild handling is also assisted by the fact that the GT3 now comes with double-wishbone suspension at the front, or as the Americans put it, a control-arm front suspension.

This suspension is not new technology, the GT3 Cup car has been using it for yonks!

But it is now available in a road going 911 for the first time in 58 years.

The engineers will tell you that the benefits of a double-wishbone suspension is that the entire surface of the tyre is now in contact with the road. Rather than only parts of it reaching the surface.

So when the entire tyre is being used to steer the car, you get super quick reaction time to the tiniest steering input. Making the front end feel like it were on rails.

Then comes the engine.

Based on the same engine that powers the 911 GT3R, 911 Cup and the 911 RSR, the flat-six engine is race proven, a proper race champion that has been slightly modified for road legality.

The 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine puts out 502hp and 470Nm of torque.

It enables the GT3 to accelerate to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds. And it tops out at an amazing 320km/h.

It offers a sound that can only be described as hypnotic, and Porsche made no effort to dampen the sound save for some carpeting that makes the interior a little more comfortable for day to day use.

The race-based engine offers race based technology such as six individual throttle valves per cylinder. The result of this is an engine that responds to every flex of your toe.

The engine is mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox (a six-speed manual is also available).

Shifts are of course mili-second quick. Porsche’s PDK gearbox has been around since 2008 and has been continuously refined over the years for speed, accuracy and durability.

The interior is of course the same as every 992 generation 911.

What I truly like about the new generation 911 is the instrument cluster.

While marque’s like Ferrari have digitised the entire meter panel, Porsche has stayed true to its roots; the rpm dial is still analogue and still sits prominently at the centre of the meter panel.

I appreciate that, and while I understand the advent of digitisation, I am grateful to Porsche for keeping the analogue rpm dial.

GT3’s have always offered an amazing driving experience with an race-derived engine and handling that mimics a race car.

The new 992 GT3 is no different, yet takes it a notch further.

While it is available with the usual massive rear wing and aero wings around the car. The new GT3 is also available in something called the Touring Pack.

The Touring Pack will appeal to the gentleman racers who prefer their GT3 without the functional but potentially an eye sore of a rear wing.

Those who want to leave their racer boy image behind but can’t seem to shake off their love for an engaging drive.

In its place is an electronically adjustable rear wing that neatly tucks back in place and sits flush with the body work when not in use.

While the world embraces new technology with electric cars and some that can even drive themselves. The Porsche GT3 is proof that some things should never change, because no matter how advanced technology becomes, none can replace the driving experience a GT3 offers.

The GT3 is now available in Malaysia with prices starting from RM1.78 million.

The Toyota Yaris which was entered in the Sepang 1000KM endurance race (S1K) recently was the first ever appearance of the model in a local race and it was a ‘baptism by fire’ on all accounts. Competing in the top MTC Production Class, the Yaris, driven by the pair of 16-year old Hayden Haikal and 24-year old Timothy Yeo, had taken the chequered flag 3 laps ahead of their nearest rival. However, a post-race penalty reclassified the duo to third position in class and fourth overall.

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

Three Toyotas occupied the top 5 front positions on the starting grid for the 9-hour/181-lap race laps around the 5.534-km Sepang International Circuit. The number #39 Yaris had been the highest-placed Toyota on the starting grid, qualifying second with a time of 2 min 38.932 seconds. They were followed by Wing Hin Motorsports team mates and the pair of Boy Wong and Dannies Ng in the number #38 Vios.

Two entries from GAZOO Racing Malaysia
Backing them up were the trio of Tengku Djan Ley, Naquib Azlan and Akio Takeyama from TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia in car number #37 (another Vios) which was fifth fastest. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia fielded a second entry, another Vios crewed by a trio comprising celebrity Zizan Razak, and young drivers Jwan Hii and Mika Hakimi in the SP2 Production Class in car number #36. Despite qualifying 30th , they went on to finish 20th in class and fifth in the inaugural running of the Vios Enduro Cup.

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

With three Toyotas in contention for overall victory, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s number #37 Vios, the number #39 Yaris and the number #38 Vios showed their dominance from the beginning to the final hours of the race. Four cars traded places for the lead throughout the race, but no one expected a huge turn of events that was to unfold in the closing laps.

Bad luck for #38 Vios
The number #38 Vios’ hopes of a podium finish were essentially erased due to technical issues, forcing it to rejoin 6 laps down but still managing to finish fourth overall and in Class. The number #37 Vios, meanwhile, was well poised for victory until 26 laps to the finish when the front left wheel was ripped away, dropping the team to 11th in Class.

Their misfortune left the race for the taking of car number #100 driven by Mitchell Cheah and Brendan Paul Anthony, but their hopes of a victory too came to a crushing end when mechanical problems 10 laps from the finish put them into retirement.

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

Yaris takes podium finish on debut
As all this unfolded, the charging #39 Yaris kept piling on the pressure and clocking consistent lap times right up to the chequered flag. “The Yaris performed impeccably, not putting a foot wrong! This is a huge testament to the car’s performance and reliability under extreme conditions, and to finish on the podium in the prestigious S1K race on its debut is, without a doubt, an amazing result,” said a happy Mr. Takeyama who is also GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsports Officer.

“We would like to have won and seen two or all three cars on the podium but unfortunately, in racing, nothing is ever certain until you cross the finish line, and this is a disappointment we will have to graciously accept despite running very competitively until the final hours,” he said.

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

“The S1K is a challenging test of nerves not only on the reliability and durability of the car, but also the physical and mental strength of the competing teams and drivers,” he said, with his personal experience of racing in the event. ”As a team, we have proven to ourselves that we are competitive, and this setback has certainly fuelled our desire to come back and be even stronger next year.”

The Yaris’ third place finish, however, was made that much sweeter with one of the drivers (Hayden) being a competitor and the youngest ever champion in Toyota’s Vios Challenge racing series. In fact, eight of the drivers in the top 4 cars in contention for the race win had competed in the one-make series which has run for 4 seasons.

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

“The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge will next year enter its fifth successive season and we hope that it has not only made a huge impact towards enhancing the profile of Malaysian motorsports by bringing it to the masses, but also in creating a strong foundation for the development of existing, new and especially young drivers. We are committed in making an impactful contribution to Malaysian motorsports and this is an initiative we intend to continue to expand on moving forward,” Mr. Takeyama promised.

Inaugural Vios Enduro Cup
In the inaugural Vios Enduro Cup, Aylezo Motorsports’ trio Mirza Syahmi Mahzan, Zen Low and Aiman Haziq completed 166 laps enroute to collect a cash prize of RM10,000. It was a 1-2 victory for Aylezo with Dato’ Danny Yip, Kenneth Teh and Chang Choon Ming placed second. In third spot was 23 Motors’ Al- Farouk and Abdull Miqail, followed by Toyotsu Racing’s Liew Jo Choon, Tan Chan Wei in fourth.

A total of 10 Toyota cars took to the track for the S1K race which attracted 38 teams, with three cars competing in the MTC Production Class and the remaining seven vying for positions in the SP2 Production Class and the inaugural running of the Vios Enduro Cup.

Toyota and Toyota GR in 2021 Sepang 1000KM

Highlights Of The Season 4 Vios Challenge Night Races (Second Night)

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.

20-year old Naquib Azlan has shown that simulator racing provides some skills that can be used in real racing, and in the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program, those skills were developed further.

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.

The recent finale round of Season 4 of the Vios Challenge/TGR Festival was run at night, a first for the series.

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.

Highlights Of The Season 4 Vios Challenge Night Races (Second Night)


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?

TGR Festival Season 3

The finale of the fourth season of the Vios Challenge one-make racing series, part of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival, saw lots of suspense and on-track drama from start to finish. Like the F1 race held in Qatar the same night, the final round (consisting of two races for each class) was run at night, a first for the series.

Malaysia’s prince of drift and also TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia ambassador drove to his third  overall championship title in the Super Sporting Class for veteran drivers, while Clement Yeo charged to his first ever overall title in the Sporting Class for amateur drivers. Actor Shukri Yahaya finally captured his first overall title in the Promotional Class after 4 seasons of racing, and young simulator racer Naquib Azlan was crowned the first ever overall champion in the Rookie Class.

The final race of the season at the Sepang International Circuit produced some of the year’s most  intense battles on track as no less than 3 individuals were in close contention for the overall  championship title in each of the four classes.

“We could not have asked for a more exciting finish to the season,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  Malaysia Chief Motorsports Officer Akio Takeyama, who was also a participant in the races. “Faced with an incredibly challenging season as a result of the global pandemic, we are thankful that we were able to conclude the championship. The introduction of a night race also made the Vios  Challenge even more unpredictable and quite a spectacle enjoyed by both drivers and spectators.”

The second night’s race started in dramatic fashion with no less than 6 cars involved in skirmishes from the very first lap of the race as a result of the wet track. Clement Yeo made a brilliant start from fifth position on the grid to stay within a car’s length of Panglima City Racing Team’s Kenneth Koh, before eventually passing him for the lead. Behind, the  battle for third, fourth and fifth positions was even more intense which saw 23 Motor’s Ady Rahimy  being the first to be pelted off the track, followed by Team Fokus Tetap’s Lim Chun Beng and  subsequently Dato’ Ken Foo, A. Shanmuganathan, Eric Yong and Amirul Haikal.

The early incidents brought out the Safety Car on lap 6 of the 20-lap race, reducing what little gap Yeo had built over Koh. When the race resumed 3 laps later, all the attention then shifted to  Dream Chaser’s Bradley Benedict Anthony and Ady who were trading places for third position.

Yeo paced himself well in the remaining 10 minutes of the race, but it was once again Bradley who  stole the limelight when he shot pass Koh for second place and that was how the first 3 places  on the podium would be decided. The race victory sealed Yeo’s campaign to become Season 4’s Sporting Class overall champion which got him a prize of RM50,000.

All eyes were on actors Shukri Yahaya and Zizan Razak who both had their sights set on becoming the  overall champion in the Promotional Class. Of the two, Shukri could be considered the most experienced, having participated in all four seasons. Overall victory had eluded him so far and he was determined that this time, he would take home the crown.

The 18-lap race began fiercely with Zizan taking the lead and Shukri in tow, while singer Khai Bahar  was in third. Positions remained unchanged in the first 5 laps of the race until Zizan made a mistake  by going wide. While Shukri grabbed the lead, Zizan never recovered from that mistake and remained in third while the front two drivers consolidated their lead to being almost 10 seconds ahead.

Shukri was determined to win and put up a strong resistance against Khai who seemed to have a quicker pace. The two were separated by only 0.3 seconds when the chequered flag came out with Shukri barely ahead. A penalty meted out to Shukri however, relegated  him to second and promoted Khai to race winner, but the overall points he had consistently accumulated throughout the season was enough for Shukri to claim the overall championship title in the Promotional Class.

The battle of the pro racers saw an incredibly fierce battle at the front between 3 drivers, each  of whom could win the overall championship. In the end, it was 23 Motors’ Mitchell  Cheah who exerted his dominance to win the 20-lap race ahead of Prima Pearl Auto’s Tengku Djan Ley and Telegamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang in third place. However, a post-race penalty against Cheah promoted Tengku Djan to first place.

“There was tremendous pressure going into tonight’s finale with so much being at stake, but I told  myself that I needed to run a smart race,” said Tengku Djan Ley who claimed his third Super Sporting  Class overall championship title to win a prize of RM70,000.

“It has been both an incredibly challenging and rewarding season. I started the first 2 races of the  year very well with back-to-back victories, but the following 2 races did not turn out favourably and  as a result we lost a lot of valuable points. A third-place finish in the Saturday race and a win tonight gave us the result that we needed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only my team and sponsors, but also to commend everyone in the Super Sporting Class for a very hard-fought  season,” he added.

This season also saw a bunch of newcomers who received guidance and training under the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program, a demonstration of Toyota’s commitment towards the development of Malaysian motorsports. The programme, for those between the ages of 14 and 20,  identified young racers with potential, based on their karting and sim-racing accomplishments, overall performance and level of commitment. They underwent intensive training both on and off  the track under the close guidance of instructors to prepare them for racing in Season 4.

Naquib Azlan turned out to the surprising star of the season, having performed consistently and remaining at the top of the results. Impressively, he participated in a saloon car race with only experience drawn from competing as a simulator racer. It showed that there is value in simulators too as well as the realism that can help drivers gain experience in the virtual world.

“It was a dream come true. Never did I expect to enter racing in real life and to have been able to  perform as well as I did. I am extremely thankful. I have to say a very big thank you to Toyota for having the trust in me and giving us the opportunity, the team, to Alex Yoong who helped all of the rookies throughout the entire journey. This is something that no other manufacturer has done and  to represent Toyota is such an honour. I look forward to doing this again next season,” said Naquib.

Bringing Malaysian motorsports to a higher level
UMW Toyota Motor President, Ravindran K., said the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival and  Vios Challenge is aimed at not only creating a series that is more affordable and accessible to the racing community – especially the younger generation of drivers – but setting out to bring as well as  promote motorsports to the masses.

“The Vios Challenge has also become an attractive breeding ground for young racing talent due to its  lower cost of entry and one-make format that is greatly centred on honing driving skills and racecraft. And with 4 separate categories of racing, the series showcases incredible talent on track for the delight  of spectators. Throughout the 4 seasons, the event has successfully attracted more than 5 million spectators (both on-site and online) which I hope will contribute to growing local awareness, interest and especially greater appreciation for motorsports in Malaysia,” said Mr. Ravindran.

Highlights of the Season 4 Vios Challenge Night Races (first night)


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.

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.

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.

The first season of the Vios Challenge, part of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival, started off in Penang in August 2017.

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 GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program helps to bring newcomers to the sport and trains them with the necessary skills for racing.

“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.

The story behind TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and why it was created

After yesterday’s racing in hot and sunny weather, the second racing session of Round 2 of the Vios Challenge at the Sepang International Circuit was run in both wet and dry conditions. But like yesterday, the competition was intense for both the new and existing drivers in the series which is now in its fourth season.

“Looking at all the action on and off the track, it was obvious that everyone in the community has been eager to get back to doing what they do best – racing! The competition was just as intense, if not greater, than it had been before the pandemic and this is precisely the boost of energy we all need to steer out of these challenging times,” said GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsport Officer, Akio Takeyama.

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

“As an event organizer, one of the most demanding aspects of the weekend in these times has not so much been in managing the racing on the track but to ensure that all safeguards are in place and adhered to in order to protect everyone on site from the threat of COVID-19. This remains our number one priority,” he stressed.

The event was closed to the public and spectators in accordance with conditions set by the National Security Council (MKN) pertaining to the organizing of sporting events. However, some 2 million people watched the races online in Malaysia as well as anywhere that was connected to the internet.

Unlike Race 1 which was held in blistering hot conditions, Race 2 got underway in the rain with drivers not only having to contend with a slippery track but also poor visibility. Those conditions however, seemed to Favour M7 Japan Project Team’s Syafiq Ali who catapulted himself into the lead from fourth position in the first corner, followed closely by team mate Faidzil Alang.

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

However, all the excitement of Lap 1 was cut short when the Safety Car had to be activated and circulated for 3 laps. During this time, Syafiq led the convoy behind the Safety Car and ahead of Faidzil, followed by Hayden Haikal who started from pole position.

Mark Darwin who was running in fifth behind overall championship leader Tengku Djan Ley eventually spun going into the first corner after the restart, dropping to 12th. The fight at the front of the pack was extremely fierce with Cheah charging aggressively with the hope of making it a double race win. After passing Hayden, his duel with Faidzil for second position lasted for 2 laps before he got past and away. His sights were then set on catching race leader Syafiq who was 2.1 seconds ahead.

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

As conditions worsened, the Safety Car was again called out on lap 10. This erased whatever lead Syafiq had built up. As the rain got heavier, the race was eventually red flagged which meant all racing was suspended. However, the race was able to be resumed minutes later, again under Safety Car conditions, and with 1 lap to go, Syafiq held his ground to take the chequered flag just half a car’s length in front of Cheah, and Faidzil in third position.

Like the Super Sporting Class race, this race was also run in wet conditions. But the rain was just the ‘x-factor’ Crestmax Motorsport’s Adam Khalid needed to make a huge impact on the race results when he stormed from 15th position on the starting grid to win the 20-lap race.

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

Adam, who finished the race ahead of Aylezo Motorsport’s Mirza Syahmi Mahzan and Eric Yong who came in third, said: “The rain really helped me, and the team did an awesome job to prepare the car… it was just perfect and by the 6th lap, I found myself in the lead. From then on, I just kept my head down and focused on track ahead.”

In the Rookie Class, 17-year-old Amer Harris was the highest placed young driver running seventh overall, in the race which shared the grid with the Super Sporting Class racers. Amer took the chequered flag ahead of fellow teenager Mika Hakimi and 14-year-old Putera Adam.

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

The race win was Amer’s second podium finish over the weekend, having completed Race 1 yesterday (Saturday) in third position. Finishing fifth and failing to make it four race wins in a row was Naquib Azlan, followed by Jwan Hii in fifth position.

The Promotional Class race was almost a repeat of Race 1’s results with actor Shukri Yahaya once again claiming race victory, his second for the weekend. It was a closely-contested 18-lap race, and he finished 7.1 seconds ahead of TV presenter Nabil Ahmad. In third place was fellow actor Zizan Razak.

Starting from fifth on the grid, Shukri piled on the pressure from the very beginning as he picked off one by one Wany Hasrita, Akio Takeyama, and singers Nabila Razali and Khai Bahar to move into the lead.

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

“I realized that I can be rather impatient in past races and that led to some bad decisions and mistakes on track. Patience is very important in racing. I’ve also been working really hard at improving my driving skills and I made a conscious effort over the last 7 months of break to work on my driving and racecraft on a simulator – that has helped a great deal to prepare me for this weekend,” said Shukri.

With two race victories, both Shukri and Zizan now have a solid chance of taking the overall championship title in the Promotional Class and that is what he is eyeing for. “As a super senior in the class by virtue of this being my fourth season in the Vios Challenge, I owe it to myself and my fans to become champion. I’m definitely going for it!” said Shukri.

Round 3 to be a night race
Round 3 and the season finale of the Vios Challenge will be held on November 20/21, again at the Sepang International Circuit. However, there will be a twist as it will be a night race! At this time, it is not known yet whether conditions will be relaxed to allow spectators to be present. To stay informed, visit the Toyota Malaysia website  at www.toyota.com.my, or the Facebook pages of Toyota Malaysia and Toyota GAZOO Racing Malaysia.

Vios Challenge Rd 2 2021 2021

Day 1 report – TGR Festival & Vios Challenge Season 4, Round 2



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