The first day of this year’s Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and GR Vios Challenge race series has recorded 1.27 million online viewers and 6,000 spectators thronged the grounds of the Sepang International Circuit.
From door-to-door racing action on track and the debut/of the latest and third generation Toyota Vios in racing trim, to a myriad of activities for the public which includes stage performances and a concert by popular alternative rock group OAG, the on-ground atmosphere was electric and full of energy.
In the Super Sporting Class, Axle Sports Naquib Azlan dominated the 20-lap race to lead from pole position to finish ahead of Prima Pearl TD Racing’s Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel and Laser Motor Racing’s Putera Adam, but his victory was far from being a walk in the park. A post-race review however, imposed a five-second penalty on him, and relegating him to third.
“It was definitely not a walk in the park especially when you have a three-time champion (Tengku Djan) behind me. It was an intense 20-lap race with nor-stop action all the way. I had to make sure I did not make any mistake,” said Naquib who had eventually finished the race with the slimmest of margins at 0.2-seconds. “It is what it is but overall I’m happy to be back on the podium after a very challenging season and I’m looking forward to Race 2 tomorrow.”
For Putera Adam who is in contention for the overall Super Sporting Class championship. his race appeared more conservative than usual.
“I was waiting for either Naquib or Tengku Djan to make a mistake throughout the race but at the same time 1 did not want to take any unnecessary risk with the overall championship at stake. My goal was just to collect as many points as I can and by my calculation, I am now just 3 points behind championship leader Mitchell Cheah going into tomorrow’s final race,” said Putera Adam.
The battle in the Rookie Class meanwhile, saw karter Ariff Azmil asserting his dominance to win the race ahead of Nazmir Azlan in second spot and Elson Lew in third.
“I managed to get a good start and I just wanted it to keep it clean throughout the race and come home with a victory. It’s been a tough season and it didn’t quite go my way but we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” said Ariff who together with Lew and Iman Danish are all in contention of being crowned Season 6’s overall Rookie champion.
In the Promotlonal Class for celebrities, TV host Ezzrin Loy drove the all-new third generation GR Vios Challenge race car to a sterling race to finish a comfortable 6.8 seconds ahead of actor Zizan Razak, with actress Ahirine Ahirudin taking third position. The new Vios will officially make its debut in all classes of racing from 2024.
Ezzrin appeared to be in top form right from the very start of the weekend taking pole position and victory in Race 1 keeps his hopes alive and still with a mathematical chance at clinching the overall championship. Currently with a promising chance of being crowned overall champion and with comfortable points lead is Zizan.
“It is a perfect car (the new Vios) from the first time 1 sat in it and completed my unofficial practice. We did not do any adjustments to the car and I drove it as it was to a good result. Love the futuristic exterior design of the Vios and this really puts you in a good mood to drive. Secondly, love the design of the cockpit,” said Ezzrin.
“With regards to the overall championship, have always focused on improving my driving and trying to get a good result every round. It’s not something that think about. l just do my best every round and try to have as fun as I can. Having fun is very important because it alleviates me of any pressure or stress during the race weekend.”
As expected, the most action of the afternoon came in the form of the Sporting Class for amateur drivers that was red-flagged in Lap 13 due to an incident on track. The race resumed behind the safety car and with two laps remaining, it was Panglima City Racing Team’s Kenneth Koh who
claimed victory. He finished 0.2 seconds ahead of Axle Sports James Liam Russell while Super Evergreen Motorsport’s Muhammad Amirut Haikal claimed a hard fought third place. 23 Motors’ Abdul Miqail however, was later promoted to third after a post-race penalty imposed against Muhammad Amirul.
That unexpected victory pushes Koh up the overall point standings and he currently in third and within striking distance of the top two contenders Nabil Azlan (Axle Sports) and Bradley Benedict Anthony (Crestmax Motorsport).
“Frankly speaking l wasn’t expecting to win this race after what has been an incredibly challenging season,” said Koh. “It was a very difficult comeback for me after my big crash several seasons ago but I’m glad to be back on the podium.”
A total of 45 drivers are competing in the Super Sporting Class for elite and professional drivers; Sporting Class for amateurs; Rookie Class for young drivers,; and the promotional Class for celebrities – allvying for the chance of being crowned the overall champions in Season 6
Sunday’s race will also come with a huge reward for the overall winners in the form of RM70,000 for the champion of the Super Sporting Class, and RM50,000 for the overall champion in the Sporting Class.
Open to the public, the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival features an exciting weekend of activities and attractions both on and off the racing track. It includes two days of concerts; meet and greet sessions with the racers; a Tempatan Fest featuring no less than 50 popular booths selling vintage accessories, trinkets, street wear, art & fashion as well as local delicacies, and the sale & promotion of merchandises.
The finale has been curated as a special thank you and to celebrate all our fans who have been instrumental in the continued success of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival. The second and final day of the race weekend will include a concert by Indonesian alternative rock band lqbal M before serving up the main act 16 Baris featuring Joe Flizzow, MK, SonaOne, ALYPH, AbangSapau, Killa Driz, Sophia Liana, Gard, Pele, Fuego & DJ CZA.
The race weekend finale is also streamed live on http://www.tovota.co.myltarmalaysia and across all of Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube pages. For more information, you can also log on to the UMW Toyota Motor (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
website at www.toyota.com.my.
SEASON 6, ROUND 3, RACE 1
1. Tengku Djan Ley – Prima Pearl Td Racing
2. Putera Adam – Laser Motor Racing
3. Naquib Azlan – Axle Sport
1. Kenneth Koh – Panglima City Racing Team
2. James Liam Russel – Axle Sports
3. Abdul Miqail – 23 Motors
1, Ariff Azmi
2. Nazmir Azlan
3. Elson Lew
1, Ezzrin Loy
2. Zizan Razak
3. Ahirine Ahirudin