Day 2 of Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge at Sepang International Circuit


The second day of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival (TGR Racing Festival) saw an even larger crowd turning up to watch the second half of Round 2 of the Vios Challenge one-make series. After not having had a chance to be at the trackside for the past two years (due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions), thousands of fans and spectators turned up at the Sepang Circuit today to enjoy the sights and sounds of what has come to be called the ‘People’s Race’. To start off the day, the early arrivals – including families with children – had a chance to get onto the circuit for an ‘All Wheel Fest’. In some of the past TGR Racing Festival events, there have been runs around the track on Sunday mornings but this time, it was on wheels…. any kind of wheels. There were bicycles, push scooters, roller blades, skateboards and some still chose to use their own two legs. This was followed by a Zumba session to heighten the energy. Following the official ceremony to mark the TGR Racing Festival, with all the racing cars and participants on the starting grid, spectators were able to do a grid walkabout to see the various teams preparing their cars and to meet the drivers. Super Sporting Class After a procession around the course, which uses half the Sepang International Circuit, it was time for the serious activities to start – the racing, with the Super Sporting Class for veteran and professional drivers. As the cars started to line up, rain came down and as it was quite heavy, the Race Director decided to delay the start of the 20-lap race for 25 minutes. It then got underway but with the Safety Car (a Toyota Camry) at the front. Under racing regulations, when the Safety Car is ahead, racing is suspended and the cars must maintain their positions in a convoy behind. They followed the Safety Car around for 2 laps and then, with the rain having ended, the Safety Car pulled in and off shot the racers on the wet track. M7 Japan Project Team’s Mohammed Fariqe Hairuman, an experienced international racer, made the best of his pole position to lead the fiercely-contested front pack. No less than 6 drivers were on his tail and after 2 laps, Mohammed Fariqe lost his lead to Axle Motorsport’s Hayden Haikal with Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin in tow. With the lead exchanging hands between the two drivers several times over the next 10 laps, there was lots of excitement to keep spectators on their feet as they waited to see which car would come round the turn in the lead. But they did not know that Prima Pearl TD Racing’s Tengku Djan was the fastest driver going round on almost every lap. Gradually, he moved up from the 12th position he had started from to shoot past both Darwin and Hayden, winning the race by 1.5 seconds. “It was a very difficult race for sure, especially with so many of us fighting to get ahead of the pack. For wet driving, what is important is the finesse and to have a good understanding of the track conditions. Sepang is a very challenging track… the conditions can vary so much and the racing lines that we normally take can be extremely slippery therefore forcing a driver to explore new racing lines to get around the corner,” said Tengku Djan. Having missed the first 2 races of the season due to COVID-19 and then bad luck with an incident in the early stages of the race yesterday, Tengku Djan will only have 3 more races remaining in Season 5 to keep his overall Super Sporting Class title which he has won 3 times. “I have to be optimistic. When I missed Round 1, I knew it will be difficult to contend for the championship. But I have team mate Mitchell Cheah and therefore I’m definitely going to be working with him to make sure he has a fair chance at the championship,” he said. The two important vehicles in motorsport – the Safety Car (above) which was the latest Toyota Camry, and the Medical Car (below), which was a Toyota Fortuner. Rookie Class In the Rookie Class, Muhammad Hamdany took his first ever race victory to retain his sterling record of 4 podium finishes in 4 races so far. The 19-year-old karter from Kuching finished ahead of simulator racer Nabil Azlan, and the only female driver in the Vios Challenge series, Adele Lew who came in third. “I was so worried before the start and I changed the set-up of the car which included readjusting tyre pressures (due to the rain). I’m extremely happy everything worked out well and I was able to finish in P1,” said Muhammad Hamdany. For Adele, the third-place finish marked her first ever podium finish. The 20-year old would have received much coaching and encouragement from her father, Eddie Lew, who is one of the veteran drivers in the Super Sporting Class. “I’m extremely happy with my first podium. It was a wet race and this was also my first ever experience racing in these conditions. I had to do some defending at the start of the race but I managed to steer clear of any incidents and maintained my position for 14 laps,” said Adele, who is in the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program. Sporting Class The Sporting Class for amateur drivers also provided the spectators with a lot of excitement, Axle Motorsport’s Naquib Azlan ( a graduate of the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program) concluded a perfect race weekend with 2 race wins. Finishing second and perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was 23 Motors’ Abdul Miqail, followed by M7 Japan Project Team’s Ahmad Tarmimi Tahang. Starting from sixth position on the grid following a reverse grid format after yesterday’s victory, Naquib was on a very determined charge from the startline, taking control of the race lead and building a 5-second gap from as early as the third lap of the 20-lap race. “I’m very happy with how this weekend went. I came in with very high expectations this weekend, wanting to rectify the mistakes of Round 1 and thankfully I was able to rectify that with two wins,” said Naquib, who gained part of his racing skill on simulators. “It was however, never going to be straight forward, because carrying a weight penalty of 35-kg meant it would be difficult especially starting sixth. It then became a matter of how to get pass everyone else and fortunately, Abdul Miqail and I were able to do this quite quickly in the first lap. Overall, I am really happy and the competition was super tough,” he added. Ahmad Tarmimi was also the biggest gainer, climbing from ninth to third place, but the highlight of the race was certainly the performance by 16-year-old Abdul Miqail who also finished on the podium twice in two races this weekend. “I am very grateful to have been able to do my best for the team and in the process improved on my own driving. It was a good weekend,” he said. Standing in the sun and rain, the Marshalls are also an important part of every race. They ensure that the drivers are warned of any dangers and signal important messages with their flags. Promotional Class The Promotional Class, which is only for the celebrities, has always been a favourite of spectators, many of whom are fans of the celebrities. Though a few of them have racing experience, all received special training to prepare them for the events. They are proficient drivers and have learnt the fundamentals of racing but still provide lots of drama on the track. Today’s race had predictions of actors Zizan Razak and Shukri Yahaya easily winning the 18-lap race as they had done yesterday. Being the race favourite, Zizan was eyeing a second race win and had held on to the lead for much of the race until a technical issue with his transmission forced him to concede 5 places with 3 laps left to go. Shukri was the first to take full advantage of his misfortune, but would later suffer a similar fate which promoted television host Nabil Ahmad to race leader. And with 2 laps to go, singer Wany Hasrita and actress Janna Nick pushed past Zizan and Shukri to move into second and third positions, respectively. Finishing fourth was singer Nabila Razali, while Shukri and Zizan crossed the line in fifth and sixth positions, respectively. TV personality Ahirine Ahirudin actually posted quick laps times but could only manage seventh place ahead of TV host Ain Edruce. Singer Khai Bahar had a disappointing race weekend as he never made it to the finish line.  » Read More