25 June 2022 –
Drama on the track, a live concert by local rock group Bunkface, an array of on ground activities marked the home coming of fans and spectators back to the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge race series at Sepang International Circuit.
While fans seized the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the Festival’s racing celebrities throughout the day, racing enthusiasts were treated to nothing short of exciting wheel to wheel action on the track.
In the 20-lap Super Sporting Class for elite and professional drivers, Prima Pearl TD Racing Team’s Mitchell Cheah stormed to victory from pole position, finishing just 2.1 seconds ahead of Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin and Freddie Ang from Telagamas Toyota in third position.
The first lap of the race unfolded in dramatic fashion when a racing incident quickly eliminated Laser Motor Racing’s Eddie Lew and Prima Pearl TD Racing Team’s Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel from the equation of the top three positions.
The incident behind gave Cheah and Darwin a clear path ahead, opening a gap of more than 10 seconds, while Ang had to fight his way pass Axle Motorsports’ Hayden Haikal from sixth position for a well deserved third place.
“Conditions were extremely difficult today with the heat. I was just focused on the task in hand and to do my best to avoid making any mistakes. To be honest that was quite difficult to do with Darwin putting me under tremendous pressure,” said Cheah, whose race win marks his second visit to the podium in three races so far this season.
For Darwin, second place was indeed a strong result having missed out on the first two races of the season.
“It’s great to be back on the podium having missed their first two races of the season due to COVID-19. It was a tough race, Cheah was extremely quick today and there really wasn’t anything else that I could do to catch him,” said Darwin.
In the Sporting Class for amateur racers, the 20-lap race was red-flagged after the very first lap due to an incident involving three cars. The race was recessed for 15 minutes before being restarted but the top three positions remained unchanged with Axle Motorsports’ Naquib Azlan claiming victory, just 2.3 seconds ahead of S&D Tama Motorsports’ Tom Goh, while 23 Motor’s Abdul Miqail claimed a well deserved third place after passing Crestmax Motorsport’s Bradley Benedict Anthony in the very last lap.
“First of all I’m glad that all the drivers were safe and uninjured in the incident. For me it was a case of being thankful at the restart as the race was cut shorter than expected and I didn’t have to defend as much,” said Naquib.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Abdul Miqail, who is also one of the youngest to compete in Season 5 of the Vios Challenge, was definitely elated with his first podium finish.
“The Vios Challenge has helped significantly to develop me as a driver because the competition is extremely close and you have to be precise. This continues to motivate me to chase the front runners.”
The battle of the young drivers in the Rookie Class meanwhile, saw Nabil Azlan storming to his second race win of the season, followed closely by Muizz Musyaffa in second position, and Muhammad Hamdany rounding up the top three. It was also Muizz and Hamdany’s second and third visit to the podium respectively.
“It wasn’t the easiest race for me with Muizz on my tail. It was very tough and I just had to maintain a good pace. The heat was also very hard on the tyres this afternoon and that required me to constantly change my braking point into the corners,” said Nabil.
Equally happy with his consistency so far was Hamdany.
“I feel amazing. Today was good and I could stay with the leaders throughout the race. As the conditions got hotter however, I began to lose a lot of time as I couldn’t turn into the corners as well. I’ll certainly be gunning to make it four for four (4 races and 4 podiums) in Race 2 tomorrow,” said Hamdany.
The Promotional Class for celebrities saw actor Zizan Razak running away with the 18-lap race to finish a massive 12 seconds ahead of host and television presenter Nabil Ahmad, with host Ahirine Ahirudin coming in third.
The race also began in dramatic fashion when pole position man and actor Shukri Yahaya jumped the start and was later disqualified. Unsure of what to do next, Shukri slowed down and allowed the rest of the grid to pass him before clawing his way back up to finish the race in second position.
“I felt a bit disoriented to be honest. After jumpstarting the race I became unsure of what to do next and I began slowing down to let everyone else pass and restart my race from the back of the field. I felt that that was the most honorable thing to do and I later began to chase the drivers in front of me one car at a time. I did not realize that I had already been disqualified. It was purely my mistake and I hope to make amends in Race 2,” said Shukri.
Singers Nabila Razali and Khai Bahar finished fourth and fifth respectively, followed by Janna Nick in sixth position, TV host Ain Edruce in seventh, and singr Wany Hasrita in eighth place.
The second and final day of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival will see an All-Wheel Fest for non-motorized vehicles being held in the morning for bicycles, roller blades, skateboards, long boards, push bikes, and push scooters, to explore the Sepang International Circuit. There will also be a zumba session, a pump ramp and a skateboard competition as well as a skateboarding lesson for enthusiasts, and a concert by Indonesian singer Judika in the evening. The Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival also features numerous sales, promotional and activity booths, and an urban street dining area serving up the best in local cuisines and delicacies.
Racing fans and enthusiasts can catch tomorrow’s Race 2 action and stage performances streamed live on the UMW Toyota Motor (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd website at www.toyota.com.my and on the Toyota Malaysia and Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia Facebook pages.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS, RACE 1
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
1. Mitchell Cheah Prima Pearl TD Racing Team
2. Mark Darwin Laser Motor Racing
3. Freddie Ang Telagamas Toyota
1. Naquib Azlan Axle Motorsports
2. Tom Goh S&D Tama Motorsports
3. Abdul Miqail 23 Motors
1. Nabil Azlan
2. Muizz Musyafa
3. Muhammad Hamdany
1. Zizan Razak
2. Nabil Ahmad
3. Ahirine Ahirudin