Round 2 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge ended on a high note with more than 10,000 spectators attending the two-day race weekend at Bandar Malaysia.
It was the first time a saloon car race in Malaysia was organized at an airport, formerly known as the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Sungai Besi, and the action on the high-speed 1.96km track did not disappoint with exciting close racing action from start to finish in all three classes of racing.
The best action of the day came in the form of a three-way battle for the win in the Sporting Class which saw SMS Motorsports’ Haji Sutan Mustaffa Salihin clinching victory ahead of 17-year-old Bradley Benedict Anthony of Dream Chaser and Dannies Ng in third position.
Sutan led the race from pole position but was forced to work hard as he came under tremendous pressure to defend his lead from a charging Bradley who could not find a way around the leader throughout the 20-lap race. Distracted by the leader, Bradley lost track position to Dannies momentarily before regaining it two laps later when the latter missed a gear.
“It was a tough 20 laps with Bradley and Dannies behind, forcing me to be on my toes throughout the 20 laps. I had to be super careful at every corner, trying to visualize what to do next in order to avoid making any mistakes that could have cost me the race victory. Their fight for second position did give me some much needed breathing space but it wasn’t enough to have a comfortable gap ahead,” said the 47-year-old competing in his first season of street racing in the Toyota Vios Challenge.
“The first round in Kuala Terengganu was extremely tough for me. In fact, my blood pressure was border line high as I was just too nervous. Although I have been racing for more than 20 years, street racing is something new to me and it is super challenging. It is not easy to fight against younger drivers who are aggressive and talented.”
Like Sutan, Bradley was equally elated as he clinched his first ever podium finish after transitioning from karting to saloon car racing this year.
“I am quite satisfied with today’s result. It was a close fight but all three of us finished a clean race,” said young Bradley.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
In the Super Sporting Class for the professionals, Kegani Racing’s Kenny Lee drove to a textbook finish from pole position to deny 23 Motors’ Tengku Djan Ley of a double race victory, with Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin finishing third.
Kenny made a brilliant start to lead into the first corner with M7 Japan Project Team’s Syafiq Ali in close pursuit. But it was Tengku Djan who gained the most, managing to slingshot himself all the way to third position from sixth on the grid. The race however, was held back under safety car conditions as early as the third corner involving a collision between Toyotsu Racing’s William Ho and Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang.
“I made a good start and managed to make another good getaway during the restart after the safety car peeled away and that gave me a little bit of gap. Towards the finishing stages of the race, the tyres and brakes were beginning to heat up and I had to brake early, but at the same time try to maintain a competitive pace without pushing too hard. This was an exceptionally challenging and technical track,” said Kenny.
For Tengku Djan, second place as well as winning yesterday’s Race 1 was the perfect way to conclude the race weekend as he finds himself concluding Round 2 leading the overall point standings.
“Today’s race was a combination of luck and strategy. I believe luck played a very big part. There was an incident in front of me and I managed to gain two positions,” said Tengku Djan.
Also celebrating a triumphant weekend was Mark who finished third in today’s Race 2 and earned second spot in Race 1 yesterday.
“The start of the race was good for me and I too capitalized on the incident between William and Freddie but then I too suffered a moment on the track, and that dropped me to sixth place with a lot of catching up to do,” said Mark.
“I continued pushing all the way and when it began to rain halfway through the race, I managed to capitalize on the changing track conditions.”
As expected, the Promotional class for celebrity racers was not without its fair share of drama. TV presenter and comedian Nabil Ahmad catapulted from fourth on the grid to lead the race right to the chequered flag, with singers Khai Bahar and Nabila Razali trailing in second and third positions respectively.
En route to earning his second podium finish this race weekend, Nabil said: “I’ve won races in the past, but this is the best first placing I’ve ever recorded because it was earned in the presence of Shawn Lee and Shukri Yahaya. It was a sweet moment for me,” said Nabil. For the record, both beat boxer Shawn and actor Shukri were promoted to compete against amateur racers in the Sporting class for Season 2 before returning to the Promotional class in Season 3.
For third place winner Nabila, the race weekend was also a fulfilling one.
“I am extremely satisfied! So far I’ve managed to not only finish all my races in Season 3 but unexpectedly claimed a few podium finishes. No more calling me a wall magnet and this is a very big achievement for me,” said Nabila.
The biggest casualty in the race was Shukri who despite running as high as third place was taken out by Shawn in lap 6 when the latter misjudged his braking point. Actress Diana Danielle meanwhile, found herself pointing the car in the wrong direction on the track after being nudged by actor Syafiq Kyle.
“Yes, I am bit disappointed with the way Race 2 panned out, but I consider it a racing incident. As far as the competition goes this season, all the drivers in the Promotional class are extremely competitive and this makes the racing even more unpredictable and exciting,” said Shukri.
Meanwhile, UMW Toyota Motor’s Chief Motorsports Officer Akio Takeyama who finished fifth said the track at Bandar Malaysia was extremely fast but a rewarding experience for all drivers competing in the series.
“The decision to hold round 2 at Bandar Malaysia proved to be a rewarding experience, not only for the racers who enjoyed competing on a high speed and wider street track for the very first time, but also for Kuala Lumpur spectators due to its strategic location,” said Takeyama.
For race fans and spectators, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival featured Toyota’s fleet of vehicles, test drive sessions, a drift performance by professional Japanese drivers, a concert, a bey blade competition and racing simulator challenge, and the sale of merchandise. Visitors to the festival were also able to get up close and personal with the newly-launched Toyota GR Supra.
RESULTS: RACE 2
1. Nabil Ahmad
2. Khai Bahar
3. Nabila Razali
4. Wany Hasrita
5. Akio Takeyama
1. Haji Sutan Mustaffa Salihin SMS Motorsports
2. Bradley Benedict Anthony Dream Chaser
3. Dannies Ng
4. Adam Khalid Crestmax Motorsports
5. Tom Goh S&D Tama Motorsports
1. Kenny Lee Kegani Racing
2. Tengku Djan Ley 23 Motors
3. Mark Darwin Laser Motor Racing
4. Syafiq Ali M7 Japan Project Team
5. Brendan Paul Anthony Dream Chaser