The Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival Vios Challenge returns for its final installment with Season 5, with Round 1 taking place at the Sepang International Circuit.
Race 1 took place on Saturday, which saw the show of brilliance from the young drivers in the elite and amateur classes. As before, the Super Sporting and Sporting categories for the aforementioned racer classes have been joined by the Promotional category for celebrities, along with the recently introduced Rookie class that features promising young talent emerging from sim and kart racing.
The Super Sporting class for elite drivers saw veteran Eddie Liew make the best of his starting position of fourth, making quick work of getting to the front of the pack to lead the class in Race 2 from start to finish. Behind Liew’s dominant drive in Race 2 was a battle for the remaining podium positions between no fewer than five drivers, where the battle for track position allowed Liew to extend his lead to as much as 10 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. .
This weekend’s Race 1 winner, Axle Motorsports’ Hayden Haikal battled for second place with teammate Boy Wong, along with M7 Japan Project Team’s Fariqe Hairuman and Amer Harris, as well as 23 Motors’ Ady Rahimy and Clement Yeo of Distinctive Model.
The fighting group of five saw contact on the track, resulting in all five being out of contention for the podium. This gave a lead to Prima Pearl TD Racing Team’s Mitchell Cheah who would go on to finish second, followed by Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang for the final Super Sporting podium spot in P3.
In the Rookie category for young drivers, 18-year-old Sharique Zulqarinain completed the first round of Season 5 with back-to-back podium finishes, capping his second-place finish in Race 1 with victory in Race 2. Close behind was Muizz Musyaffa of 20 years old, and the Rookie class podium was completed by 19-year-old Muhammad Hamdany Abdul Hamid.
“I had a really bad start in Race 2 and honestly I wasn’t full of hope, but during the race I remembered what my mechanic and father had told me, which was to keep a cool head and have fun,” said Sharique. “I was just trying to set a consistent time on every lap and in the process I started to overtake other competitors. From that point on, it was just a job to keep my pace,” said the rookie Race 2 winner.
Historically the largest field in the Malaysian Vios Challenge, the Sporting category for amateur riders in Season 5 was no different, this time with a class of 20 riders. Here, Race 2 victory went to Crestmax Motorsports’ Bradley Benedict Anthony, who ultimately qualified as the winner of the second Sporting class race of the weekend, followed by Panglima City Racing Team’s Kenneth Koh and 23-seat Abdul Miqail. Motors in second and third place. respectively.
The final standings of the Sporting category were not the starting order at the finish line, as Season 4 rookie and Gazoo Racing Young Talent Development alum Nquib Azlan was first to the flag at picture. The order did not stand as Naquib was handed a 30-second penalty, leaving him in seventh position in the overall Sporting category race result.
In the Promotional category for local personalities, actor and podium regular Shukri Yahaya took victory in Race 2, capping his Season 5 start with another podium finish after taking second place in Race 1. Actor Zizan Razak performed a remarkable performance, having started in last position and drove to second place in the 18-lap race. Completing the podium finishers was the presenter, Nabil Ahmad.
Zizan and Shukri emerge from the first round of Season 5 level on points, a result of both drivers posting identical results in each of the two races over the weekend: a race win and a runner-up finish each. Zizan started Race 2 from P6 on the grid, although a spin on the first lap meant he was dropped to the back of the promotion field, before reaching P2 at the end.
“It’s something that has interested me since I was very young,” Zizan said. “As my career in entertainment progressed, it slowly allowed me to start venturing out on track days, take up go-karting and even go-kart racing,” he said. Zizan eventually realized that a lack of track time was a limiting factor in driving him, prompting him to invest in a simulator for more practice, the actor explained.
As of this race weekend, the next round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing and Vios Challenge festival is scheduled for June, during which Toyota hopes that conditions will once again allow the safe invitation of the public after two seasons of racing to closed door due to covid-19 pandemic.