Stadium Batu Kawan in Penang will be the epicentre of an auto carnival and premier streetracing action this weekend (23-24 February 2019) when it hosts the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Racing Festival and Round 3 of Toyota Vios Challenge.
The two-day festival will see a an abundance of activities being organized, from the display and test drive of new Toyota models, celebrity appearances and engagements, the gathering of Toyota car clubs and car enthusiasts to fun & games for the family, a mini concert and a street food fest.
Racing action on the 1.56km Stadium Batu Kawan street circuit which features 11 corners and 6 straights, will see some 40 drivers competing in the Promotional, Sporting and Super Sporting classes for celebrities, amateurs and professionals respectively. Catch the starstudded line-up of celebrities who include Diana Danielle, Janna Nick, Nabil Ahmad, Khai Bahar, Akim Ahmad, Mohd Shukri Yahaya, Shawn Lee, Wanny Hasrita, Nabila Huda and Aiman Tino in action on the track and on stage.
“The atmosphere in Penang over a race weekend is phenomenal going by the overwhelming reception we received when we first embarked on the TGR Racing Festival here in 2017, and it gives Toyota great pleasure to return to Stadium Batu Kawan with an even more exciting lineup of activities for fans,” said UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd Pesident, Mr Ravindran K.
“As we come to the halfway point of Season 2, the TGR Racing Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge have had an enormous impact in terms of allowing the masses to better understand, see and experience for themselves the renewed image and philosophy of the brand moving forward… It’s All About the Drive,” he added.
With three podium finishes in four races, all eyes will be on singer Akim Ahmad as he takes on the 1.56km Batu Kawan track for the very first time. Akim has been the most consistent drivers in the Promotional Class for celebrities, and despite keeping rather a low profile every race weekend, his race record so far stands at one race victory, two 2nd place finishes and a 4th place finish. He currently leads the overall point standings.
With the current line-up of celebrities competing in the Promotional Class, actresses Diana Danielle and Janna Nick so far hold the best record at Batu Kawan, finishing 4th and 5th respectively at the track in Season 1.
Diana already has one race win under her belt this season and together with Akim, will also be joined by celebrity presenter Nabil Ahmad and singer Aiman Tino who also have one race victory each to their credit.
“With 4 more races remaining in the season, it’s anyone’s championship to be fair. I prefer not to think about it too much and just focus on one race at a time. In a street race where the competition is so close from start to finish, just being able to complete every race is already challenging and a strong achievement for me,” said Akim.
Meanwhile, looking for their first podium finish will be singers Nabila Huda, Wany Hasrita and Khai Bahar, and UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd Deputy Chairman, Mr. Akio Takeyama.
Competing in the Sporting Class this season, celebrity beat boxer Shawn Lee will certainly be looking to repeat the double victory he achieved at Batu kawan in Season 1.
Season 2 began strongly for Lee. Despite being promoted into a new class where he now finds himself competing in a pool of amateur racers instead of fellow celebrities, Lee proved his critics wrong and had driven to his first ever pole position and race victory in Race 1, and finished 7th in Race 2 in Kuala Terengganu much to the surprise of the other competitors.
But, an early mistake during the free practice session in Round 2 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) in Selangor resulted in a severely damaged car that would see him missing the entire race weekend and failing to score any points to grow his presence in the series.
“That’s one costly mistake I don’t intend on repeating. It was extremely careless of me to have gone flat out the moment I exited the pit and with cold tyres, I lost traction and ended up in the wall,” said Lee who was clearly disappointed and is eagerly awaiting to get back into racing.
“The competition in the Sporting class has been extremely intense with door-to-door battles from the get go and this is precisely what fuels my passion to compete in the Toyota Vios Challenge. It has certainly been a very challenging test of nerves and my driving ability.”
Fellow celebrity Mohd Shukri Yahaya, who has also earned a promotion into the Sporting Class, will also be looking to repeat last season’s commendable drive at Batu Kawan. He had finished second twice in Batu Kawan and it is one of his more favoured tracks in the series.
Mohd Shukri’s Season 2 has somewhat been a roller-coaster ride. His best result in four races so far is a 4th place finish at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) in Selangor
“It’s been a difficult time trying to adjust to the level of competitiveness in the Sporting Class but I find my confidence growing after every race,” said the 30-year-old actor.
A clear favourite in the Sporting class and is expected to do well in Batu Kawan however, will be Kulim Top Wheels driver Dato’ Ken Foo who also holds the distinction of a double race victory at the track last season.
Also expecting to continue their strong momentum in the Series will be Panglima City Racing Team’s Kenneth Koh, Team Nanoplus driver Patrick Tam, ST Wangan Racing Team’s Eric Yong, Distinctive Model’s Clement Yeo and Tedco Racing’s Brendon Lim.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
After 4 races in Season 2, the three most prominent names that continue to consistently dominate the series are undoubtedly William Ho, Boy Wong and Kenny Lee.
Heading to Batu Kawan, all three drivers have one race victory to their credit, but Wong is the only driver who has consistently finished all four races so far and has scored three podium finishes in the process. Wong so far has one race win, one 2nd place finish, one 3rd place finish and one 4th place finish to his credit and currently leads the overall point standings.
“The competition is super tough with so many big names on the grid, but my strategy from the start has always been to drive consistently and to avoid making any unnecessary mistakes. Pushing hard is one thing, but you have to do it carefully without taking too much risk,” said Wong.
Comparing the three drivers, Ho has the best finish in Batu Kawan last season when he was placed 3rd, while Wong only managed a 6th placing and Lee an 8th placing.
Ho, who was crowned runner-up in the Super Sporting class last season, has so far accumulated one race win, two 2nd place finishes and one run-in with the concrete wall, while Lee too has one race win under his belt, one 3rd place finish, and like Ho, also one run-in with the concrete wall.
Meanwhile, climbing up the ranks from the Sporting to the Super Sporting class is Brendan Paul Anthony who has somewhat found his form over the last two races at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) in Selangor to score a 2nd and 3rd finish.
For race fans, the two-day Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge beginning 23 February 2019 will see an array of activities being organized apart from watching the action on the track. Those in the need for a new vehicle are invited to check out the Toyota showroom which will showcase among others, the All New Toyota Camry and newly-launched Toyota Vios. Take the opportunity to also purchase special “race themed” merchandises and win attractive prizes in lucky draws throughout the weekend.
Don’t miss the chance to catch the mesmerizing and entertaining performances by two professional Japanese drifters in two heavily-modified Toyota 86 drift cars courtesy of Toyo Tyres.
For fitness enthusiasts, come and join a Fun Run which will take place on Sunday morning (24 February 2019) giving you a rare opportunity to run inside the 1.56km Batu Kawan track, and a Zumba session which will also see the participation of several celebrities. There will also be celebrity autograph sessions with fans and a performance by the competing celebrities to end the weekend.