This year’s Toyota Malaysia’s Gazoo Racing Vios Challenge Season 6 Round 1 Race 1 saw the podium was dominated by young drivers, with the exception of two veteran drivers in the top three positions of the GR Vios Challenge Super Sporting and Sporting Classes.
The format of a one-make race and everyone being equal on performance has certainly brought out the best in a new, younger and bold generation of drivers. To do this however, they must first find a chink in the armor of the more experienced drivers.
The 20-lap Super Sporting Class race for professional drivers and the Rookie Class for young drivers, provided the opening action for Race 1 which saw Axle Sports’ Naquib Azlan taking victory ahead of the Laser Motor Racing pair of 49-year-old Eddie Lew and 17-year-old Putera Adam in second and third respectively.
The opening race of the year was as expected, intense action from start to the finish with no less than six drivers battling for the top 3 positions right to the final corner of the last lap.
“I had a bit of a gap the front but then it started to rain momentarily and that sort of messed up my last few laps. Pressure from behind and a slow puncture made the last 3 laps even more chaotic,” said 23-year-old Naquib who was making his debut in the professional class after winning last year’s Sporting Class for amateurs and was crowned the 2021 Rookie Class champion.
In the Rookie Class, simulator racers following in the footsteps of Naquib, again proved to be at the top of their game with Iman Danish, Elson Lew and Nazmir Azlan taking the top three places.
“This opportunity to drive and race as a young driver is just phenomenal and I would like to thank Toyota. This is one chance to prove ourselves. I didn’t expect the race to go as well as it did as I encountered some issues during qualifying and I had felt a little down starting the race,” said 16-year-old Iman. “The action on the track is just great!”
For 19-year-old Elson Lew, a nervous first race start in his career also did not prevent him from charging to the front of the pack and spending most of the 20-lap race defending his second spot. Sharing the same sentiment and thrilled with his third place result was 15-year-old Nazmir who is also the youngest driver this season.
“First of all I would like to say a very huge thank you to Toyota for giving all 6 Rookies the chance to take part in this prestigious event. I did not get a perfect start and I almost stalled the car. Seeing some cars colliding at the first corner was also nerve wrecking. Considering this was my first time racing and being alongside other drivers on the track, I’m very grateful to have been able to maintain my position,” said Nazmir, who is also the youngest of 3 siblings competing in this year’s GR Vios Challenge.
The Sporting Class saw his brother Nabil Azlan, who was also Season 5’s Rookie Class champion, cruise to a comfortable 8-second lead ahead of 23 Motors’ Abdul Miqail and Zaquin Boulevard Motorsports’ and 39-year-old Tarmimi Tahang in what was the only full wet race of the day.
Despite putting in a highly committed drive in the closing stages of the race to get into podium contention, Abdul Miqail was however, handed a 30-second penalty which dropped him to 9th position. This promoted Tarmimi to second and Crestmax Motorsport’s Bradley Benedict Anthony into third position.
“I always prefer a dry race. When the rain came I was a little nervous as I do not have enough experience competing in the wet. The goal was then to keep it clean and stay out of trouble,” said 21-year-old Nabil.
“The biggest difference between competing in the Rookie and Sporting Class is the number of drivers you are competing with on the grid. Having 17 other competitive drivers is something to really take note off.”
For 17-year-old Abdul Miqail, all was not lost and his promising start of the season is a good indication of what is in store for the rest of the year.
“Season 5 for me was a learning process and to gain experience. This year, I hope to put that all into practice and hopefully go for the overall championship. It won’t be easy because the competition is super intense. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the races pan out,” said Abdul Miqail.
In the Promotional Class, actors Zizan Razak and Shukri Yahaya again exhibited the close rivalry they had demonstrated the previous two seasons but in the end it was eventually Zizan who took the chequered flag by a mere 0.27 seconds ahead. In third position was fellow actor and GR Vios Challenge newcomer Ezzrin Loy who was a distant 25 seconds behind.
“Looks like we still have some unfinished business from last season,” said Zizan. “I’m very satisfied with Race 1’s results. I had tremendous pressure from Shukri from the very start but it was a clean race all the way.”
For Ezzrin Loy, the invitation to join the GR Vios Challenge in Season 6 was truly exciting given his background as a passionate motorsports enthusiast.
“This was a very challenging first race and to be honest, I had no ambition of a podium finish,” said Ezzrin who has an active background riding and racing motorcycles in the 250cc and 1000cc categories. “Four-wheel racing is very different and I do not have any prior experience. My objective was to finish the race and thankfully I was able to do this and in the process get on to the podium.”
Returning to the grid are also actress and television personality Ahirine Ahirudin; and television personality Ain Edruce, while joining Ezzrin are another four new celebrities: professional ten pin bowler and Ratu Ten Pin drama actress Syaidatul Afifah; actor, television host and Hot FM radio presenter Imran Aqil; radio presenter Hefny Sahad; and actress and model Reen Rahim.
Catch all the action and stage performances by local celebrities on ground or streamed live on the UMW Toyota Motor (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd website at www.toyota.com.my and on the Toyota Malaysia and Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia Facebook pages. For more information, kindly log on to www.toyota.com.my.