Tension, penalties and plenty of on-track drama from start to finish provided the perfect backdrop for an exciting finale as Season 4 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival (TGRF) and Vios Challenge racing series drew to a close with the crowning of four overall class champions.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
Fan favourite as well as two-time Toyota Vios Challenge champion Tengku Djan Ley (Car 61) and his Prima Pearl Auto entered Round 3 after a very successful season opener in March with full race wins but disappointing Round 2. Syafiq Ali (Car 70) and Mitchell Cheah (Car 23) were in contention but Djan’s strong performances in both races sealed the title for him.
“It has been both an incredibly challenging and rewarding season. I started the first two races of the year very well with back-to-back victories, but the following two races did not turn out favourably and as a result, we lost a lot of valuable points. A third-place finish in Race 1 yesterday and a race 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,” expressed Tengku Djan.
Even without the post-race penalty that saw Mitchell Cheah and 23 Motors losing his race win and promoting Tengku Djan (and his third race win of the season), Malaysia’s Prince of Drift has amassed sufficient points to be the champion of Super Sporting Class. This is his third championship title after winning the inaugural challenge in 2018 and his second in 2020 (Season 3). Instead of another Toyota Vios car, Tengku Djan and Prima Pearl Auto take home the RM70,000 prize money.
Only Boy Wong (Car 21) is the other driver to have won the Championship (Season 2, 2019) in the category of Malaysia’s top racing drivers.
All eyes were on actors Shukri Yahaya (Car 24) and Zizan Razak (Car 15) who both had their sights set on becoming the overall champion in the Promotional Class racing the 2021 Toyota Vios GR Sport.
In Saturday’s race, Shukri was promoted to the win after a post-race penalty was handed to the charging Zizan Razak for exceeding track limits when overtaking thus relegating him back to second place with Akio Takeyama (Car 1), Chief Motorsports Officer for UMW Toyota Motor, rounding up the top three.
On Sunday night, the season 4 finale race began fiercely with Zizan taking the lead and Shukri in tow while singer Khai Bahar (Car 94) was in third. Positions remained unchanged in the first five laps of the race until Zizan made a mistake by going wide, allowing Shukri to dart into the lead and losing another place to Khai.
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 and Khai were only separated by with only 0.3 seconds when the chequered flag came out but another post-race penalty punished Shukri and promoted Khai as race winner.
Shukri Yahaya only needed to finish ahead of Zizan to capture his first Vios Challenge championship and the penalty didn’t stop him, thus sealing the title for the actor with his signature ‘predator teeth’ helmet design.
Thanks to the sheer size of the category with as many as 19 Toyota Vios 1.5 sedans battling it out, there is no short of excitement and drama in this category of gentlemen and professional racers.
Saturday night saw Round 2 winner Ady Rahimy (Car 99), a very promising member of the Sepang Talent Development Programme, taking the chequered flag but contact with Amiral Haikal on Lap 1 meant a post-race penalty demoted him to second position. Bradley Benedict (Car 55) of Dream Chaser thus took his first race of the season with Dannies Ng in third after taking advantage of the individual battles and driver mistakes around him.
An evening downpour earlier meant Sunday night’s race started in greasy conditions that has proven to be a great equaliser plus action for us watching online. The night’s race opened in dramatic fashion with no less than six cars involved in skirmishes from the very first lap of the race because of a wet track.
Clement Yeo of Distinctive Model (Car 98) 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 (Car 77), 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 (Car 68) and subsequently Dato’ Ken Foo (Car 10), A. Shanmuganathan (Car 69) and Eric Yong (Car 9).
A big contact between Mirza Syahmi of Aylezo Motorsport (Car 97) and Super Evergreen Motorsport’s Amirul Haikal (Car 36) entering Turn 8 brought the Toyota Camry 2.5V Safety Car out on Lap 5 as both Toyota Vios cars were stranded at the trackside.
When the safety car period was discontinued on Lap 10, just ten minutes of racing on left on the clock and Clement pulled away from battling trio of Kenneth Koh, Ady Rahimy and Bradley Benedict.
Winning the race also meant winning his first Toyota Vios Challenge Championship for Clement Yeo and Team Distinctive Model. Ady Rahimy’s ‘never give up’ attitude which pulled him from 16th at the start of Lap 2 saw him missing out on the final podium spot by just 0.5 seconds behind Kenneth Koh and Bradley Benedict after what seems to be the best final 1,000 metres dogfight to the chequered flag.
Naquib Azlan (Car 17) turned out to be the surprising star of the season having participated in a saloon car race with only experience drawn from competing as a simulator racer.
“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.
Putera Adam’s (Car 25) strong double-victory in Round 3 was just insufficient to topple Naquib Azlan who won three races and another two visits to the podium in their Gen-1 Toyota Vios Challenge cars.
At the season finale, UMW Toyota Motor’s President, Ravindran K. and Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia said they remain committed to expanding local motorsports initiatives and he called on the support of all stakeholders to bring Malaysian motorsports to a higher level.
Visit the Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia website for results from all categories and past races.