For those familiar with the local four-wheel motorsports events, the Sepang 1,000 km (S1K) endurance race is quite the year-ending event that many amateur and professional racers look forward to. The premise is simple, just 1,000 km of human and machine endurance – and this year, UMW Toyota will also be taking on the challenge head on.

The three-day-long race weekend has officially begun today with scrutineering and team preparations. Track action starts at 10:00 A.M. tomorrow for Free Practice 1, followed by the first qualifying session at 3:30 P.M. and ending at 6:30 P.M.

The big event will formally commence on Saturday morning from 10:50 A.M. and a field of some 45 cars will begin their 181-lap race at 11:00 A.M. The main grandstand of Sepang International Circuit is welcoming fans to experience live motorsports after an absence of more than a year.

Being an endurance event, members of the public can enter the main grandstand for free anytime before 8:00 P.M. to catch the last few laps and prize-giving ceremony. Entrance is limited to individuals aged 18 and above, fully vaccinated and wearing of facemask is compulsory.      

Honda Malaysia (Honda Malaysia Racing Team) and Proton (and its R3 operations) have long established their presence in the endurance event, having both won the overall winner’s title. In the previous S1K 2019, Proton was the overall champion with the Iriz R3, ahead of the Saga R3 driven by local motorsports darling Leona Chin in an all-ladies driver line-up.

The highlight of the S1K is the incredibly fast builds in the Malaysian Touring Car (MTC) category. Both Honda Malaysia Racing Team and Proton R3 field MTCs due to the technical regulations that allow plenty of modifications to the tune of 190 hp from an engine displacement of 1,600 cc.

UMWT, running under the banner of Team Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia will be fielding a Toyota Vios in the MTC class bearing race no. 37. The team comprises of three-time Toyota Vios Challenge champion Tengku Djan, inaugural Rookie Champion Naquib Azlan as well as UMWT’s Chief Motorsports Officer and Deputy Chairman, Akio Takeyama.

This is Takeyama’s second Sepang 1,000 km endurance race, after making his and UMWT’s debut in 2019 and finishing in 12th position.

Meanwhile, the second Toyota Vios will enter the highly competitive SP2 (Stock Production 2) category that sees competition from Suzuki Swift Sport, Honda Jazz, and Honda Fit RS. Representing Team Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s SP2 Vios No. 36 are Gazoo Youth Talent Development drivers Mika Hakimi and Jwan Hii as well as the talented Zizan Razak, runner-up of the Promotional Class Season 4.

We won’t be surprised if the duo met with fellow rookies Putera Adam and Ameer Harris who had quite an outing at the recently ended double-header of the Malaysian Championship Series 2021, racing SP2 machinery as well.

Also making its debut in the MTC category will be a brand-new Toyota Yaris (Car No. 39) driven by Season 3’s Vios Challenge Sporting Class champion and 16-year-old Hayden Haikal who will partner another young and talented driver Timothy Yeo, representing Wing Hin Motorsports, a prominent GR Garage and Toyota dealer.

They will be joined by Season 2’s Vios Challenge Super Sporting Class champion Boy Wong and Vios Challenge Sporting Class driver Dannies Ng. The pair finished third overall in the 2019 S1K in a chrome-grey Toyota Vios MTC bearing competition No. 38.

Thanks to the strict technical regulations that limit engine modifications in the SP2 category, many teams who own the Toyota Vios Challenge racing cars also participate in this category. UMWT has made this Sepang 1,000 km race more rewarding for the Vios racers as the S1K Vios Enduro Cup champion is rewarded RM10,000 with prize money awarded up to fifth category placing.

Image credit: Facebook/WingHinMotorsports and Facebook/SepangCircuit