Taj Izrin Aiman Taj Madira wins 2023 Toyota GR GT Cup – claims third title and RM25k prize

The grand finale of the newly-rebranded Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup Malaysia 2023 has concluded over the weekend at Sunway Pyramid, with Taj Izrin Aiman Taj Madira winning the overall title, followed by Dhanesh Wigneswaran in second place, and Chong Kai Chang in third.

Taj Izrin Aiman’s win this year marks his third overall title in the simulator racing series, making him the most decorated GR GT Cup Malaysia racer since the event was first introduced in 2018.

“The event has become extremely competitive with a lot of newcomers,” said Taj Izrin Aiman who dominated Race 1 and Race 2, followed by a P2 finish in the third and final race to clinch this year’s overall title, and a cash prize of RM25,000 – the biggest prize money to be offered in the history of the series.

For Wigneswaran, his second place finish this year marks his best performance in the series thus far, improving from fourth overall last year. “I tried very hard to improve my mental game this time round, trying to get into the zone, and to be calm and focused,” said the 22-year-old, who displayed his expertise through a dominant drive in Race 3 of the grand finals.

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Similarly, Chong Kai Chang’s second runner-up position is also his best result since joining the event in 2019, following his third consecutive appearance in the grand finals. “I have always been a casual player and in fact, I started with a controller before investing in a simulator rig. It was the idea of competing against the very best racers in Malaysia that really intrigued me,” said the 29-year-old financial analyst.

In addition to the prize monies, the top three finishers will also be representing Malaysia in the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup Asia Pacific regional qualifiers later this year. Taj Izrin Aiman won the qualifiers last year, and went on to finish in 12th position representing Team Malaysia at the GR GT World Cup. He is optimistic that the national representatives will do even better this year.

The top 10 finalists were selected from more than 800 contenders nationwide, through an online open qualifier that began last month. The three-day finale began with the quarter-final shoot-out to select the top 20 semi-finalists, and subsequently the best 10 racers, for a chance to fight for a slice of the total prize pool worth RM90,500.

The grand finale weekend saw over two million online viewers tuning in across the three days, in addition to the crowd who were present at the main stage. Aside from the main championship, the event also included a series of exhibition races including a celebrity race involving all nine participants in the Gazoo Racing Vios Challenge Exhibition Class; the top 10 fastest racers scouted from the first-ever GR GT Cup Malaysia Campus Tour, as well as a special race for the media – which yours truly won (wink)!

The public were also invited to take part in a simulator time attack, in addition to checking out the Gran Turismo 7 game in virtual reality, organised in collaboration with Gamers Hideout. Interested customers were also invited to test drive several of Toyota’s latest models on sale.

“The sport has truly and exponentially grown judging by the outstanding pedigree of simulator racing talent we have in Malaysia,” said UMW Toyota Motor President, Datuk Ravindran K. “UMW Toyota Motor is proud to be part of this phenomenal sport that is increasingly becoming a very important pre-requisite to producing the next generation and competitive real-world racers.”

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