The second and final day of racing at round 3 of the Toyota Vios Challenge produced some spectacular driving in all three classes which had more than 10,000 race fans and spectators on the edge of their seats for close racing action on the 1.56km Stadium Batu Kawan street circuit in Penang.

M7 Racing Team’s Syafiq Ali made the most of pole position and a first corner incident to lead Race 2 of the Super Sporting class from start to finish. Finishing two seconds behind was Team Dream Chaser’s Brendan Paul Anthony while in third was Team Nanoplus driver Keifli Othman, both finishing in the same positions as Race 1 on Saturday.

Getting off to a great start, Syafiq led into the first corner unaware of an incident unfolding behind where several cars bunched up at the exit of turn 1. Brendan who stayed on the outside line going into the first corner however, managed to steer clear of trouble and together with Keifli, broke free of the confusion in pursuit of Syafiq.

“I was unaware of what happened behind and was focused on the clear track ahead. It wasn’t until a few corners later that I realized the rest of the grid was nowhere to be seen with the exception of Brendan and Keifli,” said Syafiq.

Chasing hard, the gap between Brendan and Syafiq remained within 2 seconds until the chequered flag with Brendan settling for second place.

For Keifli, what began as a troubling weekend resulting from damage sustained during qualifying, unexpectedly concluded on a high note with two consecutive third place finishes.

“The incident during qualifying had left me short of new tyres for the race.The team took a gamble not to purchase any new tyres for the race which would have required me to start from the back of the grid. Fortunately, that gamble paid off this weekend but towards the closing laps of the race I just couldn’t push the car any further as I was struggling with grip,” said Keifli

SPORTING CLASS The best race action of the day however, was in the Sporting class.

Jakson Tan of Revo Technik Malaysia kept it together to win Race 2 after fending off a strong challenge from Kenneth Koh who finished second and Dato’ Ken Foo clinching third.

Tan, a substitute driver for the team, made a brilliant getaway from second position on the starting grid to lead the 22-lap race from start to finish. In pole position was Eddy Tan who however, faltered his start and dropped to fourth position after being passed by Hiewa Racing’s Wong Chin Eeg and celebrity Shawn Lee. Tan’s race eventually came to end in the second lap after braking too late and coming into contact with the wall.

The top five positions remained unchanged for eight laps with Jakson in the lead followed by Wong, Lee, Eric Yong and Koh. In an overtaking attempt for second place however, Lee nudged Wong into the wall, but his own race ended in lap 17 after also hitting the wall.

While he finished second, Koh was undoubtedly the fastest man on the track and like a driver possessed, raced from ninth place on the starting grid to a well deserved second place.

“It was all about keeping it together today, not being overly eager to overtake and coming into contact with anyone on the track,” said Koh who admitted to causing a collision in Race 1.

“I am responsible for yesterday’s incident and it was a very hard lesson for me, but after the dust settled, it has nevertheless been a great weekend of racing.”

All the action in the Promotional class for celebrities unfolded in the closing stages of the 20-lap race which saw an epic two-car battle between actress Janna Nick and television presenter and comedian Nabil Ahmad. In third place was singer Aiman Tino.

Starting from pole position, Janna immediately jumped into the lead thanks to a brilliant start with Nabil in hot pursuit for some 18 laps. Nabil eventually overtook her but much to the surprise of spectators, Janna fought back and regained the top position just a few corners before the chequered flag.

“Nabil was obviously faster but I did all I could to prevent him from overtaking. Eventually, I gave way…but just enough for him to enjoy the lead for one lap before regaining it and going for the win,” said an ecstatic Janna who celebrated her first ever race win in 14 races.

“Finally (the race win)…It certainly helps to start from pole position.”

Meanwhile, Race 1 winner Diana Danielle’s drive ended four laps from the finish when she went too wide into the corner and hit the wall conceding her fourth place in the race. Other race casualties included Akim Ahmad whose drive to as high as third position also came to an abrupt end after being pushed into the wall by fellow singer Khai Bahar. Singer Nabila Razali also ended the two-race weekend with two collisions with the concrete barrier.

The Toyota Vios Challenge which returned to Penang for a second year running saw the participation of some 40 racers competing in three categories: Promotional for local celebrities, Sporting for amateurs and Super Sporting for professional drivers.

For spectators, the two-day Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge featured an array of activities and attractions, from the display and test drive of new models from Toyota that included the all-new Camry and Vios; the mesmerizing performances by two professional Japanese drifters in two heavily-modified Toyota 86 drift cars; a fun run and zumba session for fitness enthusiasts; the sale of special “race themed” merchandises; lucky draws throughout the weekend; and meet the fan sessions with the TGR celebrities as well as a mini concert.

The fourth and final round of the Toyota Vios Challenge is scheduled for 27-28 April at the Sepang International Circuit.

RESULTS: RACE 2, ROUND 3, Stadium Batu Kawan, Penang

1. Janna Nick
2. Nabil Ahmad
3. Aiman Tino
4. Wany Hasrita
5. Akio Takeyama

1. Jakson Tan – Revo Technik Malaysia
2. Kenneth Koh – Panglima City Racing Team
3. Dato’ Ken Foo – Kulim Top Wheels
4. Eric Yong – ST Wangan Racing Team
5. Lim Chun Beng – Team Fokus Tetap

1. Syafiq Ali – M7 Racing Team
2. Brendan Paul Anthony – Dream Chaser
3. Keifli Othman – Team Nanoplus
4. Kenny Lee – Kegani Racing
5. William Ho – Kegani Racing

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