Racing was at its most intense in Round 2 of the Toyota Vios Challenge as four classes and up to 45 cars returned to door-to-door dogfights at the Sepang International Circuit after a seven-month break due to the full lockdown and tight restrictions.
While Saturday was quite a tiring day for competitors due to both a full-day’s schedule and hot weather, Sunday was a different type of stress via the heavy downpour (a typical Sepang Circuit characteristic this time of the year) making conditions treacherous.
Round 2 of the Sporting Class saw two debutants in the Toyota Vios Challenge. Ady Rahimy, who has been making headlines and picking plenty of trophies after being drafted in by Sepang Talent Development Program, continued his impressive driving in this one-make race series.
In Race 1, Ady Rahimy started from pole position and won the race with a commanding lead with his matte-black 23 Motors Toyota Vios Challenge machine, ahead of Dream Chaser’s Bradley Benedict Anthony and Distinctive Model’s Clement Yeo.
Lau Seng Kiat, one of the many racing veterans from the southern state of Johor, made his debut in the Toyota Vios Challenge after a few seasons of racing in the Malaysia Speed Festival and Malaysia Championship Series, competing in Team Saksama Motorsports colours.
Race 2 on Sunday started under wet conditions saw Round 1 Race 1 winner Adam Khalid taking the chequered flag after starting from nearly the back of the field, finishing ahead of Aylezo Motorsport’s Mirza Syahmi, who led briefly, and Eric Yong, netting his third podium finish after four races.
The wet conditions also saw six drivers drop down their starting order from collisions as well as low grip levels.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
Mitchell Cheah made his return to the Toyota Vios Challenge in commanding style, taking home the most points from Round 2 with a pole position, a race win and a second-place finish in the other matte-black 23 Motors machine.
While it was a rather uneventful race on Saturday, with Mark Darwin finishing where he started in second and Syafiq Ali climbing to third from the ninth slot, Race 2 on Sunday was the total opposite.
Race 2 got underway in the rain, with the conditions getting worse to require the intervention of the Safety Car for three laps and then a second time on lap 10 before having the race suspended. Syafiq Ali’s magnificent start from fourth and Vios Challenge debutant, Faidzil Alang, made a dream first lap for the M7 Japan Project Team as they completed lap one in first and second.
After passing Hayden, Race 1’s winner Mitchell Cheah’s duel with Faidzil for second position lasted for two laps before eventually fighting his way through and from them on his sights were set on catching race leader Syafiq who was 2.1 seconds ahead. The race got suspended due to worsening weather with Syafiq Ali taking the win, Mitchell Cheah in second and debutant Faidzil Alang in third under safety car conditions.
Carrying an extra 40 kg of success ballast by virtue of winning two consecutive races in Round 1, Tengku Djan Ley’s pace was hampered all weekend with the extra weight, managing only fourth quickest, before finishing Race 1 in 14th and one lap behind after brushing with the concrete on the exit of Turn 8 which caused a puncture. Thanks to his sixth place in Race 2, he is still the championship leader.
The Promotional Class’ Race 2 was almost a repeat of Saturday’s Race 1 results with actor Shukri Yahaya clinching his second successive race victory of the weekend after a closely-contested 18-lap race, finishing 7.1 seconds clear of TV presenter Nabil Ahmad. In third place was fellow actor Zizan Razak in Race 2, while Race 1 saw Nabila Razali taking third after making some great overtaking moves as well as benefitting from Zizan Razak’s retirement due to suspension damage.
UMW Toyota Motor’s Chief Motorsport Officer, Akio Takeyama, was promoted to third due to Zizan’s clash with Nabil Ahmad, but contact with Ahirine made Takeyama dropped down the order to finish seventh.
With two race victories each, both Shukri and Zizan now have a solid chance of clinching the overall championship in the Promotional Class.
In the Rookie Class, the 20-lap race was won by current championship leader Naquib Azlan who clinched his third straight victory in three races for a perfect track record so far. Coming in second was Mika Hakimi while in third was Amer Harris.
Race 2 however see Naquib Azlan, not only carrying the full success ballast of 40 kg, but also starting from third in his category. With the treacherous conditions and extended safety car periods, Amer Harris and Mika Hakimi finished where they started in first and second, while Putera Adam managed to get ahead of Naquib Azlan to clinch his first podium position.
Watch all the replays from the Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia Youtube page here.
Toyota Vios Challenge and the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival is scheduled to return for Round 3 on November 21st and 22nd, with Sepang International Circuit hosting but this time with a twist – a night race galore!