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Malaysian international touring car driver Mohammed Fariqe says Vios Challenge a competitive and career building for new and experienced driver

Mohammed Fariqe Hairuman, M7 Japan Project Team in the Super Sporting Class

Being an experienced touring car driver on track, Mohammed Fariqe Hairuman faces a very challenging start in his first season competing in the Vios Challenge one-make race series.

Nonetheless, the 39-year-old champion is not planning to go slow and stepping up his game to make his mark with three more races to go in the season. He finished at sixth place during yesterday’s Race 1 in Round 2 of the series and it has been his best result so far.

“The biggest difference for me is the speed involved and this is not something that has been easy for me to adapt to. In a GT or touring car, it’s all about power. You can be on the brakes and have instantaneous power but in a one-make race car like the Vios, what you really need is momentum. For me, this is essentially going back to basics and reminiscent of my first time racing in a Group N production saloon car in 2000,” said Mohammed Fariqe who currently drives for the M7 Japan Project Team in the Super Sporting Class for professional and elite drivers.

“It has been very difficult for me to adjust. To make things even more challenging for me, the last time I drove the half track at Sepang International Circuit was in 2004. All this and coupled with driving for a new team means this is a totally new experience for me.

“In two races, I have tried two very different strategies but that didn’t seem to work. I’ll be employing a new strategy this weekend and l hope it will be the right one this time.

“Overtaking is never easy, and this is made even more challenging in the Vios Challenge because you need momentum. When you make a slight mistake, you will lose that momentum. Therefore, you cannot afford to make any mistake.”

With 22 years of racing under his belt, Mohamed Fariqe’s accomplishments have included winning the 2019 TCR Spa 500 endurance race in Belgium, and becoming three time winner of the Japan Super Taikiyu Series in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

He is also the first and only Asian to have competed in the British Touring Car Championship with 28 race starts in 2004, the first Malaysian to win the Dubai and Japanese 24 Hour Races, and in 2007 was also the youngest international driver at the age of 24 to win an overall major championship in touring car racing worldwide, a record which he still retains.

“The one-make racing format is the best thing about the Vios Challenge. It is a series that requires minimal cost to participate in compared to other racing series in Malaysia whereby a sizeable investment goes into building a competitive car. With a one-make format, this cost is significantly reduced making it accessible to more enthusiasts.

“For someone who is moving up from karting or track days to professional saloon car racing, the Vios Challenge is the next logical step because it has all the things required for a driver to go further in his racing career. For the same individual to compete in another series, it will definitely come down to it being a money game because motorsports is expensive.”

Mohammed Fariqe also described competition in the series being at its highest level.

“If you look at Super Sporting Class and the names competing in the series, it pulls together a very strong grid of drivers comprising of almost all of the best touring car drivers in Malaysia. We’re talking people like Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel, Boy Wong, Eddie Liew, Mark Darwin and even young drivers like Hayden Haikal. For enthusiasts and spectators, this is the best place to see the individual driving skills of every driver because we are all driving an identical race car.

“Being new to the Vios Challenge, even I find myself looking at the various racing lines taken by the rookie drivers. The Vios Challenge is definitely a good platform to learn especially for, new drivers. This is one event where you can even see a rookie clock the fastest time of the day.

“The Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and the Vios Challenge is something that should be continued. Congratulations to Toyota for taking it into the fifth season. We all know motorsports is expensive and hardly a money making venture, and for Toyota to invest in this is very bold.

GAZOO Racing has become a phenomenon. If you ask people in Johor a lot of them know what GAZOO Racing is and they associate it with racing and also the Vios. The awareness is indeed very strong.”

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