22 November 2021 –
Suspense and on-track drama from start to finish provided the perfect backdrop for an exciting finale as Season 4 of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge racing series drew to a close with the crowning of four overall class champions.
Malaysia’s prince of drift and also TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia ambassador drove to his third overall championship title in the Super Sporting Class for elite drivers; Clement Yeo charged to his first ever overall title in the Sporting Class for amateur drivers; actor Shukri Yahaya finally clinched his first overall title in the Promotional Class after four seasons of racing; and young simulator racer Naquib Azlan was crowned the first ever overall champion in the Rookie Class.
The final race of the season at the Sepang International Circuit produced some of the year’s most intense battles on track as no less than three individuals were in close contention for the overall championship title in each of the four classes.
“We could not have asked for a more exciting finish to the season,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia Chief Motorsports Officer Akio Takeyama.
“Faced with an incredibly challenging season as a result of the global pandemic, we are thankful that we were able to conclude the championship. The introduction of a night race also made the Vios Challenge even more unpredictable and quite a spectacle enjoyed by both drivers and spectators.
“I would like to thank all the drivers, teams, sponsors, business associates and all personnel involved in the series for their continue support. We will be back next season, and hopefully in an even bigger way!”
The finale was also attended by the honorable Minister of Youth & Sports Yang Berhormat Dato’ Seri Ahmad Faizal Bin Dato’ Azumu who took time off to meet with young drivers competing in the Rookie Class and celebrities racing in the Promotional Class, as well as presented prizes to the overall champions.
YB Dato’ Seri Ahmad Faizal commended UMW Toyota Motor’s involvement in Malaysian motorsports, saying it amplified how corporate involvement can contribute significantly towards revitalizing and injecting greater excitement in the sport.
“This is an initiative that is being done independently of any Government support or financial assistance. While UMW Toyota Motor and the brand may have its own objectives to fulfill, it has successfully been able to do so while giving so much back to Malaysian motorsports. I’m not only referring to the racing that takes place on the track, but also in terms of giving the motorsports economy a big boost because events like these create both business and employment opportunities for those in the industry.”
The night’s race opened in dramatic fashion with no less than 6 cars involved in skirmishes from the very first lap of the race as a result of a wet track.
Clement Yeo made a brilliant start from fifth position on the grid to stay within a car’s length of Panglima City Racing Team’s Kenneth Koh, before eventually passing him for the lead. Behind, the battle for third, fourth and fifth positions was even more intense which saw 23 Motor’s Ady Rahimy being the first to be pelted off the track, followed by Team Fokus Tetap’s Lim Chun Beng and subsequently Dato’ Ken Foo, A. Shanmuganathan, Eric Yong and Amirul Haikal.
These incidents brought out the safety car six laps into the 20-lap race, reducing what little gap Yeo had built over Koh, and when the race resumed three laps later, all the attention then shifted to Dream Chaser’s Bradley Benedict Anthony and Ady who were trading places for third position.
Yeo paced himself well in the remaining 10 minutes of the race but it was once again Bradley who stole the limelight when he shot pass Koh for second place and that was how the first three places on the podium would be decided.
The race victory sealed Yeo’s campaign to become Season 4’s Sporting Class overall champion which comes with a prize of RM50,000.
All eyes were on actors Shukri Yahaya and Zizan Razak who both had their sights set on becoming the overall champion in the Promotional Class.
The 18-lap race began fiercely with Zizan taking the lead and Shukri in tow while singer Khai Bahar was in third. Positions remained unchanged in the first five laps of the race until Zizan made a mistake by going wide, allowing Shukri to dart into the lead and losing another place to Khai. Zizan never recovered from that mistake and remained in third while the front two drivers consolidated their lead to being almost 10 seconds ahead.
Determined to win the overall championship now that he was competing in his fourth successive season of the Vios Challenge, Shukri had to dig deep to hold back Khai who seemed to have a quicker pace throughout the night. The two were only separated by with only 0.3 seconds when the chequered flag came out with Shukri barely ahead. A penalty meted out to Shukri however, relegated him to second and promoted Khai to race winner, but the overall points he had accumulated throughout the season was enough for Shukri to wrestle the overall championship title in the Promotional Class.
The battle of the professionals saw an incredibly fierce battle at the front between three drivers, all of whom were in contention for the overall championship. In the end, it was 23 Motors’ Mitchell Cheah who exerted his dominance to win the 20-lap race ahead of Prima Pearl Auto’s Tengku Djan Ley and Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang in third place. A post-race penalty against Cheah however, promoted Tengku Djan to first place.
“There was tremendous pressure going into tonight’s finale with so much being at stake, but I told myself that I needed to run a smart race,” said Tengku Djan Ley who sealed his third Super Sporting Class overall championship title to win a prize of RM70,000.
“It has been both an incredibly challenging and rewarding season. I started the first two races of the year very well with back-to-back victories but the following two races did not turn out favorably and as a result we lost a lot of valuable points. A third place finish in Race 1 yesterday and a race win tonight gave us the result that we needed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only my team and sponsors, but also to commend everyone in the Super Sporting Class for a very hard fought season.”
The season finale also saw the crowing of the very first Rookie Class champion. Naquib Azlan turned out to the surprising star of the season having participated in a saloon car race with only experience drawn from competing as a simulator racer.
“It was a dream come true. Never did I expect to enter racing in real life and to have been able to perform as well as I did. I am extremely thankful. I have to say a very big thank you to Toyota for having the trust in me and giving us the opportunity, the team, to Alex Yoong who helped all of the rookies throughout the entire journey. This is something that no other manufacturer has done and to represent Toyota is such an honor. I look forward to doing this again next season,” said Naquib.
Meanwhile, UMW Toyota Motor President Ravindran K. said the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge is aimed at not only creating a series that is more affordable and accessible to the racing community, especially the younger generation of drivers, but setting out to bring as well as promote motorsports to the masses.
“The Vios Challenge has also become an attractive breeding ground for young racing talent due to its lower cost of entry and one-make format that is greatly centered on honing driving skills and race craft. And with 4 categories of racing, from celebrities to young drivers, and amateur gentlemen racers to elite professionals, the Vios Challenge showcases incredible talent on track for the delight of spectators. Throughout the 4 seasons, the event has successfully attracted more than 5 million spectators (both on-site and online) which I hope will contribute to growing local awareness, interest and especially greater appreciation for motorsports in Malaysia,” said Ravindran.
UMW Toyota Motor and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia he added, remains committed to expand on these initiatives and he called on the support of all stakeholders to bringing Malaysian motorsports to a higher level.
For more information, kindly log on to www.toyota.com.my.
RESULTS, ROUND 3, RACE 2
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
1. Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel Prima Pearl Auto
2. Mitchell Cheah – 23 Motors
3. Freddie Ang – Telagamas Toyota
1. Clement Yeo
2. Bradley Benedict Anthony – Dream Chaser
3. Kenneth Koh – Panglima City Racing Team
1. Putera Adam
2. Naquib Azlan
3. Jwan Hii
1. Khai Bahar
2. Shukri Yahaya
3. Zizan Razak
VIOS CHALLENGE SEASON 4 OVERALL CHAMPIONS
Super Sporting Class – Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel
Sporting Class – Clement Yeo
Rookie Class – Naquib Azlan
Promotional Class – Shukri Yahaya