With more than two million online viewers, Round 2 of the Vios Challenge at the Sepang International Circuit fuelled a remarkable restart to the season with racing being held in both wet and dry conditions, and the intense competition on track bringing out the best in new and existing drivers in the series.
While the weather hot and sunny on day one of racing, Sunday’s racing was run in the rain which made the track both slippery and visibility challenging. Much of the limelight of the weekend’s race was on Vios Challenge newcomer and touring car driver Mitchell Cheah who drove to a race win and a second place, and actor Shukri Yahaya who drove valiantly en route to clinching his best ever results in the series with back to back victories in both Race 1 and Race 2.
“Looking at all the action on and off the track, it was obvious that everyone in the community has been eager to get back to doing what they do best – racing! The competition was just as intense, if not greater, than it had been before the pandemic and this is precisely the boost of energy we all need to steer out of these challenging times,” said GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsport Officer Akio Takeyama, adding that the race weekend was live streamed over Toyota’s website, Facebook page and numerous social media platforms.
“As an event organizer, one of the most demanding aspects of the weekend in these times has not so much been in managing the racing on the track, but to ensure that all safeguards are in place and adhered to in order to protect everyone on site from the threat of COVID-19. This remains our number one priority.”
The event remained closed to the public and spectators, and a high degree of safety precaution was put in place, consistent with standard operating procedures (SOPs) imposed by the National Security Council (MKN) pertaining to the organizing of sporting events and under the strict supervision of the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM) as the governing body for motorsports.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
Unlike Race 1 which was held in blistering hot conditions, Race 2 got underway in the rain with drivers not only having to contend with a slippery track but also poor visibility. Those conditions however, seemed to Favour M7 Japan Project Team’s Syafiq Ali who catapulted himself into the lead from fourth position in the first corner followed closely by his team mate Faidzil Alang.
All the excitement of Lap 1 however, was cut short when it brought out the safety car for 3 laps, with Syafiq leading the pack ahead of Faidzil, followed by Hayden Haikal who started from pole position, Race 1’s winner Mitchell Cheah in fourth place, Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin in fifth and overall championship leader Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel in sixth. Mark was eventually spun around going into the first corner after the restart losing valuable track positions and dropping to 12th .
The fight at the front of the pack was extremely fierce with Cheah charging aggressively with the hope of making it a double race win. After passing hayden, his duel with Faidzil for second position lasted for two laps before eventually fighting his way through and from them on his sights were set on catching race leader Syafiq who was 2.1 seconds ahead.
As conditions worsened, a second safety car situation was called on lap 10 erasing whatever lead Syafiq had built up, and as the rain got heavier the race was eventually red flagged.
The race resumed minutes later, again under safety car conditions, and with 1 lap to go, Syafiq held his ground to take the chequred flag just half a car’s length in front of Cheah, and Faidzil in third position.
Held under wet condition, the rain was just the x-factor Crestmax Motorsport’s Adam Khalid needed to make a huge impact on the race results, when he stormed from 15th position on the starting grid to win the 20-lap race.
Adam finished the race ahead of Aylezo Motorsport’s Mirza Syahmi Mahzan and Eric Yong who came in third.
“The rain really helped me, and the team did an awesome job to prepare the car…it was just perfect and by the 6th lap I found myself in the lead. From then on, I just kept my head down and focused on track ahead,” said Adam.
In the Rookie Class, 17-year-old Amer Harris was the highest placed young driver running seventh overall, in the race which shared the grid with the Super Sporting Class racers. Amer took the chequered flag ahead of fellow teenager Mika Hakimi and 14-year-old Putera Adam.
The race win was Amer’s second podium finish over the weekend, having completed Race 1 yesterday (Saturday) in third position.
Finishing fifth and failing to make it four race wins in a row was Naquib Azlan, followed by Jwan Hii in fifth position.
The Promotional Class race was almost a repeat of Race 1’s results with actor Shukri Yahaya clinching his second successive race victory of the weekend after a closely-contested 18-lap race, finishing 7.1 seconds clear of TV presenter Nabil Ahmad. In third place was fellow actor Zizan Razak.
Starting from fifth on the grid, Shukri piled on the pressure from the very beginning as he picked off one by one actress Wany Hasrita, Akio Takeyama, and singers Nabila Razali and Khai Bahar for the lead.
“I realized that I can be rather impatient in past races and that led to some bad decisions and mistakes on track. Patience is very important in racing. I’ve also been working really hard at improving my driving skills and I made a conscious effort over the last seven months break to work on my driving and race craft on a simulator – that has helped a great deal to prepare me for this weekend,” said Shukri.
With two race victories, both Shukri and Zizan now have a solid chance of clinching the overall championship in the Promotional Class and that is what he is eyeing for.
“As a super senior in the class by virtue of this being my fourth season in the Vios Challenge, I owe it to myself and my fans to become champion. I’m definitely going for it!” said Shukri.
Round 3 and the season finale of the Vios Challenge will be held on 20-21 November 2021 again at the Sepang International Circuit, but this time with a twist – a night race!
Stay tuned for the latest news on the Vios Challenge by logging on to www.toyota.com.my.
SEASON 4, RACE 2 RESULTS
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
1. Syafiq Ali – M7 Japan Project Team
2. Mitchell Cheah – 23 Motors
3. Faidzil Alang – M7 Japan Project Team
1. Adam Khalid – Crestmax Motorsport
2. Mirza Syahmi – Mahzan Aylezo Motorsport
3. Eric Yong
1. Amer Harris
2. Mika Hakimi
3. Putera Adam
1. Shukri Yahaya
2. Nabil Ahmad
3. Zizan Razak