UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd has launched the Gazoo Racing Young Talent Development Program aimed at uncovering and nurturing young Malaysian racing talent between the ages of 14 and 20 who are transitioning from karting and sim-racing to saloon car racing.
The programme has scouted and drafted six young racers (based on their karting and sim-racing accomplishments, overall performance and level of commitment) to be coached before being provided with the opportunity to compete in Season 4 of the Toyota Vios Challenge series.
The fortunate six include sim racers Mika Hakimi, 17 years old and Naquib Azlan, 20 years old, go-kart racers Amer Harris, 17 years old, Jwan Hii, 18 years old, Putera Adam, 14 years old, and Troy Eimann, 16 years old.
“One of the principal achievements of the Toyota Vios Challenge has been its ability to not only attract young racers but giving them an equal opportunity to excel when competing alongside more experienced racers,” said Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsports Officer, Akio Takeyama.
“In three seasons of the Toyota Vios Challenge, we have noticed a stream of young drivers making their way into the race series. Affordability and cost of participation have certainly played a significant part in this but its one-make race format has also provided young drivers as well as newcomers with a fair and level playing field in terms of racing as they compete against more experienced drivers. This and the combination of having to drive in a super competitive environment has resulted in an accelerated learning curve,” he added.
The success of the series in nurturing young talent has been validated after 16-year-old Hayden Haikal was crowned the Sporting Class Champion in Season 3 with another teenage driver, 18-year-old Bradley Benedict Anthony clinching 2nd place overall in what was only his first year of saloon car racing. Both were go-kart racers before making the transition up to saloon car racing.
Racers drafted into this programme will undergo intensive training both on and off the track under the close guidance of instructors at the Gazoo Racing School beginning this month. They must meet a number of criterias before being certified competent to race. The racers must also fulfill all conditions to acquire a national competition license (circuit racing) from Malaysia’s motor-racing governing body, the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM).