25 June 2020, Shah Alam – Forced into taking a momentary break from motor-racing to reboot for what it hopes will be a pandemic-liberated season in 2021, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn. Bhd. (UMWT) has become the first and only auto brand in Malaysia to take to virtual racing in the interest of continuity in motorsports with the introduction of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Online Challenge recently.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing Online Challenge, held between 23 April and 21 May, attracted gamers as young as six years old who participated in a competition which utilized Sony Playstation’s popular Gran Turismo Sport platform in a quest to find the fastest “racer” at five different virtual circuits around the world. In total, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Online Challenge offered prize monies amounting to RM7,500 over the five scheduled rounds.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted the physical aspect of motor-racing but there is no reason why the spirit of competition cannot continue virtually. Gazoo Racing is a philosophy that extends beyond the racing track and that was precisely why we pursued an online presence,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsports Officer Akio Takeyama.
Takeyama, who is also Deputy Chairman said, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Online Challenge was also a natural extension to the company’s existing Toyota GR Velocity Esports Championship and underlines the company’s commitment to not only bring motorsports to the masses but to make it more accessible and affordable.
Following the successful Online Challenge, a second phase will be held on 12 July which will see the top challengers in the first phase go head-to-head for a final showdown of the fastest sim-racers in the country.
The Online Challenge Finals will be comprised of a mini-championship held within four-rounds, each featuring iconic race cars – including the Gran Turismo exclusive Toyota GT86 Gr. B Rally Car.
The top sim-racers will face each other in some of the world’s iconic circuits, including the Red Bull Ring and Autodromo De Interlagos. The rounds are bound to be exhilarating with the reverse-grid format.
With online racing continuing to spearhead Toyota Gazoo Racing’s motor-racing activities for the remaining of 2020, the third installment of the Toyota GR Velocity Esports Championship – which saw UMWT become the first Malaysian car company to be associated with the fast-growing Esports racing activity – will be held in August – September this year (with dates and race formats to be announced soon).
In addition to the above, Toyota Motor Asia Pacific (TMAP) will also be organizing the first ever GR Supra GT Cup Asia 2020 regional esports competition in October 2020.
The GR Supra GT Cup Asia 2020 will see qualifying rounds being held in Malaysia (through the Toyota GR Velocity Esports Championship), Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and India from July to September to select the top three virtual racers who will represent their respective nations at the regional finale.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities, the result of which has seen e-sports and virtual racing propelled to the forefront at an unprecedented scale. The timely introduction of a regional event will certainly fuel Toyota’s momentum of pursuing an aggressive e-sports agenda in Malaysia,” said Mr. Ravindran K., President of UMW Toyota Motor Sdn. Bhd.
“Simulator racing has had a profound impact on Malaysian e-sports, appealing to both gamers and racing drivers proving that it is an excellent conduit between the virtual and physical realms in motor-racing. As an automotive brand, Toyota in Malaysia is today in a position of strength being in the forefront of both spectrum – with a strong virtual racing presence.”
Ravindran added that these initiatives solidified Toyota’s commitment to bring motorsports to the masses, promoting the Gazoo Racing philosophy that embodies performance and excellence, and introducing to the market its new range of special vehicles that wear the GR badge.