Racing was at its most intense in Round 2 of the Vios Challenge as four classes of competitors retuned to door-to-door dogfights at the Sepang International Circuit after a seven-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The race is being broadcast live over Toyota’s website and Facebook page as it is held strictly without the presence of spectators as a safeguard measure against the pandemic.
The Vios Challenge consists of four classes of racing which includes the Rookie Class featuring five graduates of the GAZOO Racing Young Talent Development Program who are stepping up from karting and simulator to racing in a saloon car for their very first time; the Promotional Class which will field 10 local celebrities, the Sporting Class for amateur drivers; and the Super Sporting Class for Malaysia’s elite and professional drivers.
Two of the four new faces making their debut in the Vios Challenge made a very big impact with Malaysian touring car driver Mitchell Cheah and Sepang Talent Development Program driver Ady Rahimy clinching victories in the Super Sporting Class for elite drivers and Sporting Class for amateurs respectively. Two other drivers making their debut in the Vios Challenge include veteran and twotime Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race champion Faidzil Alang and Malaysia Championship Series (SP 2) driver Lau Seng Kiat.
“We could not have asked for a more exciting restart to the season, and with the inclusion of four new drivers into the series, the Vios Challenge one-make series continues to attract a competitive field of Malaysian racers, “said GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsport Officer Akio Takeyama.
In the Super Sporting Class, touring car driver Mitchell Cheah powered to victory from start to finish in the 20-lap race, followed by Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin 0.7 seconds adrift, and M7 Japan Project Team’s Sayfiq Ali in third place.
Cheah, who was making his debut in the Vios Challenge with 23 Motors, set a blistering pace throughout practice and qualifying to clock 1 min: 25.618 seconds for pole position. Being on the front row of the grid, he made a brilliant start in the race but was only able to marginally pull away from the rest of the field behind who were locked in a fierce contest for second and third positions.
In the opening laps of the race, Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang was in contention for second position with Mark in third, and championship leader Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel in fourth position, but eight laps later Mark overtook to consolidate his place for second place. Ang tried to hang on for third but could not stop a charging Syafiq who inevitably proved to become the biggest gainer in the race, finishing third despite starting from as far back as ninth on the grid.
Carrying an extra 40kg of ballast by virtue of winning two consecutive races in Round 1, Tengku Djan Ley struggled all weekend with the extra weight, managing only fourth quickest, before finishing Race 1 in 14 th and one lap behind after brushing with the concrete on the exit of Turn 8 which caused a puncture.
Making his Vios Challenge debut, Ady Rahimy was hardly intimidated by the competition to lead the 20-lap race from start to finish, building a race gap of 4.5 seconds from as early as the second lap.
That lead however, disappeared in the 15th lap when the safety car came out on the track and when the race resumed with one lap to the finish, Ady retained his composure to sprint to the chequered flag just 0.6 seconds ahead of Dream Chaser’s Bradley Benedict Anthony, with Distinctive Model’s Clement Yeo round up the top three positions.
The battle for second and third positions was intensely fierce with Yeo, Aylezo Motorsports’s Mirza Syahmi and Bradley exchanging places on several occasions with less than half a second separating all three drivers.
Bradley however, attacked consistently despite coming under pressure and managed to get ahead of Yeo in the penultimate stages of the race.
In the Rookie Class, the 20-lap race was won by current championship leader Naquib Azlan who clinched his third straight victory in three races for a perfect track record so far. Coming in second was Mika Hakimi while in third was Amer Harris.
Starting from third on the grid, Naquib paced himself patiently, observing the battle ahead involving Putera Adam and pole position driver Mika before mounting his attack for the lead in the closing stages of the race.
Putera Adam, 14, had driven a compelling race that saw him clinch the lead in the 11th lap. He was within five laps of what could have potentially been his first ever race victory until a race incident forced him into retirement. Finishing fourth was Jwan Hii.
Starting from pole position Shukri Yahaya made a brilliant start from pole position to lead the race from start to finish. Finishing second was Nabil Ahmad followed by Nabila Razali in third place.
The opening stages of the race saw Shukri pull away with a comfortable lead as Nabil and fellow racer Zizan Razak locked horns for second position. Both drivers were unwilling to give up an inch and exchanged places for second several times in Lap 2 before contact between the two of them resulted in a damaged suspension for Zizan who was forced into retirement.
That incident promoted Akio Takeyama to third, but brought out the safety car for two laps. The fight for third was intense with Takeyama having to fend off challenges from Ahirine Ahirudin and Nabila Razali for several laps. The two ladies eventually found their way through Takeyama. Fighting back for position, contact between Takeyama and Ahirine however, promoted Nabila into third.
For Shukri, the safety car erased whatever gap he had built and he once again found himself under pressure from Nabil. The actor however, kept his head down and put in consistent lap times over the remaining 10 laps to build his lead from 3.8 seconds to a massive 14.7 seconds ahead of Nabil for the race victory with Nabila in third.
The biggest gainer in the race however, proved to be Nabila who jumped five places from eighth on the grid to third on the podium.
Watch all the action of Race 2 live on the UMW Toyota Motor 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.
ROUND 2, RACE1 RESULTS
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
1. Mitchell Cheah – 23 Motors
2. Mark Darwin – Laser Motor Racing
3. Syafiq Ali – M7 Japan Project Team
1. Ady Rahimy – 23 Motors
2. Bradley Benedict Anthony – Dream Chaser
3. Clement Yeo – Distinctive Model
1. Naquib Azlan
2. Mika Hakimi
3. Amer Harris
1. Shukri Yahaya
2. Nabil Ahmad
3. Nabila Razali