• A star-studded line-up of racers and former champions
• 6 new young recruits for the Rookie Class
• First ever father-daughter racing in the same event
• Enthusiasts and fans can now go racing with their Dream Team
Shah Alam, 16 March 2022 – From the very first documented father-daughter racing one another, a growing number of young drivers enlisted, a star-studded line-up of racers and former champions to the chance for race enthusiasts to “participate” by selecting their own Dream Team, the opening round of Season 5 of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge this weekend (19-20 March 2022) at the Sepang International Circuit has all the hallmarks of shaping into one of the most exciting seasons yet.
The Vios Challenge one-make series will once again be divided into 4 classes: the Promotional Class; the Super Sporting Class; the Sporting Class; and the Rookie Class. In total, more than a half a million ringgit in prize monies is at stake, which includes RM70,000 and RM50,000 to the overall champion of the Super Sporting and Sporting Class champions respectively making the Vios Challenge the most lucrative motorsports event in the country.
While the Festival remains closed to the public as a safeguard against the pandemic, Season 5 not only invites racing fans to tune into the weekend via live streaming, but also gives them the chance to participate in the GAZOO Racing Dream Team TGR Fantasy. This is a racing platform where players sign up and compete against each other by creating their very own TGR Dream Team of racers they think will perform best throughout the season. Participants will have to select 3 drivers from each of the 4 classes of racing, and their team will accumulate or lose points based on the real racing results throughout the 3 rounds in Season 5. The player with the most number of points will be declared the winner at the end of each round and the grand prizes are up for grabs at the end of the season.
“The Festival and the Vios Challenge continues to evolve in line with our aspirations to contribute to the development of Malaysian motorsports. From a series that attracts professionals, gentlemen drivers and local celebrities, it has today grown into one of the most ideal, accessible and affordable platforms to hone the skills and experience of young drivers coming up the ranks in motorsports. And this year, we want enthusiasts and fans to become even more invested in the series by introducing a fantasy game that will enable them to better relate to their favourite drivers on the track,” said UMW Toyota Motor President, Ravindran K.
“The Vios Challenge, in many ways than one, is growing into what we would like to call ‘the people’s race’, and in four seasons we have kept to this objective by not only promoting motorsports to the masses both on ground and online, but maintaining a one-make race format that makes the event attractive to all levels of racers.”
Season 5 of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge will feature 3 rounds and a total of 6 races with Rounds 2 and 3 to be held in June and September respectively. In 4 seasons of the Vios Challenge so far, the Festival and Vios Challenge have successfully attracted more than 8 million spectators and online viewers, garnering a social media reach exceeding 19 million, making it one of the most viewed domestic motor-racing events.
Super Sporting Class – an epic battle in the making with a star-studded field of former champions, veteran drivers, talented young drivers and several former internationals.
Reigning and triple-crowned Super Sporting Class champion Tengku Djan Ley returns for Prima Pearl Auto this season, but instead of a solo entry, will be partnering international touring car Mitchell Cheah in a two-car assault for the team.
Also fielding two-car teams are Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin who will be alongside veteran racer Eddie Liew; and M7 Japan Project Team who will take to the grid with international touring and GT car driver Mohamed Fariqe Hairuman and young gun Amer Harris who moves up the ladder after graduating from the very first Vios Challenge Rookie Class last season.
Amer joins two other young drivers who are under the age of 20 competing in the Super Sporting Class. They are teenage prodigy and former Sporting Class champion Hayden Haikal and international single-seater driver Alister Yoong who is also the son of ex-Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong, both of whom will be driving for Yoong Senior’s Axle Motorsports team. Driving a third entry for Axle Motorsports will be former Super Sporting Class champion Boy Wong.
The competitive list of drivers in the class also includes Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang; former Sporting Class champion Brendan Paul Anthony who will be driving for Royal47 Racing; Toyotsu Racing’s William Ho; 23 Motors’ Ady Rahimy; and Distinctive Model’s Clement Yeo who has earned an automatic promotion by virtue of becoming last year’s Sporting Class champion.
“The Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and the Vios Challenge is by far the best platform for racing in Malaysia at the moment. It is professionally run, the cars are great and why wouldn’t we want to seize the opportunity to be part of it,” said Axle Motorsports Team Principal Alex Yoong who is fielding 4 cars in the championship, 3 of which will be driven by young drivers and the 4th car by experienced racer Boy Wong.
“Boy is one of the most underrated senior drivers in the country. He is, and has been very quick throughout his racing career. In the academy that I run, we have brought in close to 1,5000 new young drivers into the sports via our simulator competition and races but only tens have successfully made the transition to driving real race cars. This however, doesn’t mean we are going to ignore senior drivers. I hope to see Boy Wong, Naquib, Hayden and Alister being very competitive this season.”
Sporting Class – one of the most fiercely contested with a field of 20 drivers including a female driver contending in the category.
Naquib Azlan and last year’s Rookie Class champion will spearhead Axle Motorsports’ charge in the Sporting Class which remains one of the most fiercely contested category in the Vios Challenge. This year’s line-up will also see R&R Sport Speed Garage’s Shasha Shafie becoming the only female driver in the class.
Shasha is one of three new drivers to the class who also include Super Evergreen Motorsports’ Muhamad Roni Risman and 23 Motors’ Abdul Miqail. Top drivers to keep an eye on in the class include Crestmax Motorsports’ Bradley Benedict Anthony; Panglima City Racing’s Kenneth Koh; Carroof Motorsports’ Mirza Syahmi Mahzan; S&D Tama’s Tom Goh; Kulim Topwheels’s Dato Dr Ken Foo; and 20 Racing Team’s Haziq Zairel Oh.
Promotional Class – nine personalities lining up on the starting grid for the battle of the celebrities.
Returning to defend his title is Season 4 champion and actor Shukri Yahaya; last year’s runner-up and actor Zizan Razak; television host Nabil Ahmad; actress Janna Nick; singers Wany Hasrita, Nabila Razali and Khai Bahar; TV personality Ahirine Ahiruddin; and actress and presenter Ain Edruce who is making her return to the Vios Challenge from a sabbatical after welcoming her first born child.
Rookie Class – six new faces joining the grid, as the program continues for the second year running.
They include the first female Rookie Adele Liew and karter Ashen Shanmuganathan, both of whom whose fathers Eddie Liew and Shanmuganathan Arumugan are also competing in the Super Sporting and Sporting Classes respectively; sim racer Muhammad Hamdany Abdul Hamid; sim racer Nabil Azlan whose brother Naquib was crowned last year’s Rookie Class champion; karter Sharique Zulqarnain; and karter and single-seater driver Muizz Musyaffa.
And what does it mean for Adele to be competing in the same event as her father Eddie?
“This is a very special moment for the both of us. In order for me to be able to race my father means that he has been in motorsports for a very long time. And to my knowledge, there has never been a father-daughter racing in the same event and on the same weekend in Malaysia. This is going to be a whole new experience for the both of us and my father is equally very excited. He is definitely the best mentor I could have ever hoped for to prepare me for my first race weekend,” said Adele who joins the Rookie Class with only limited experience behind the wheel of fun karts.
Racing fans and enthusiasts can catch the weekend’s action and stage performances by local celebrities 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. For more information, kindly log on to www.toyota.com.my.