26 June 2022 –
Thousands of returning fans and spectators for the first time in two years since the COVID-19 pandemic, brought with them a tremendous amount of energy that helped to galvanize the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge race series as truly being the People’s Race.
Round 2 of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge race series concluded with thousands of fans returning and re-energizing the event.
Sunday morning began with hundreds of participants – including families and children – on bicycles, push scooters, roller blades, skateboards and even runners, being granted access into the track at Sepang International Circuit for an All Wheel Fest. This was followed by a Zumba session, the official opening ceremony of the Festival, a grid walkabout for fans and spectators, and later a procession of all the Toyota Vios race cars taking part. The day ended on a high note with an energetic performance by popular Indonesian singer Judika as a special treat for fans.
The Festival had also featured a live concert by local rock group Bunkface on Saturday and welcomed back spectators with so many ground activities that included numerous sales, promotional and activity booths, and an urban street dining area serving up the best in local cuisines and delicacies.
“We would like to thank all the spectators and fans who came to the Festival. The enthusiasm and the level of excitement we witnessed has certainly motivated us to now begin planning for a more exciting Round 3 and Season 5 finale for them in September,” said UMW Toyota Motor President Ravindran K.
On track and in the Super Sporting Class for elite and professional drivers, rain just the cars lined up on the starting grid, delayed the start of the 20-lap race by 25 minutes, before eventually getting underway behind the safety car for two laps.
As the safety car pitted, it was M7 Japan Project Team’s Mohammed Fariqe Hairuman who made the best of his pole position to lead a fiercely-contested front pack that involved no less than six drivers. That lead however, only lasted for two laps before Axle Motorsport’s Hayden Haikal shot pass Mohammed Fariqe for the lead with Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin in tow.
With the lead exchanging hands between the two drivers several times over the next 10 laps, naturally spectators and race fans were expecting it to end as a two-car battle for first place. What they did not expect to see happen was Prima Pearl TD Racing’s Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel to post the fastest time on almost every lap of the race to make his way up from 12th position on the starting grid to winning the race 1.5 seconds ahead of Darwin, with Hayden crossing the finish line in third position.
“It was a very difficult race for sure, especially with so many of us fighting to get ahead of the pack. For wet driving, what is important is the finesse and to have a good understanding of the track conditions. Sepang is a very challenging track…the conditions can vary so much and the racing lines that we normally take can be extremely slippery therefore forcing a driver to explore new racing lines to get around the corner,” said Tengku Djan.
Having missed the first two races of the season due to COVID-19 and bowing out of yesterday’s Race 1 due to a racing incident, Tengku Djan will only have 3 more races remaining in the season to pull out something special from his bag of tricks if he is to defend and capture his fourth overall Super Sporting Class title.
“I have to be optimistic. When I missed Round 1 I knew it will be difficult to contend for the championship. But I have team mate Mitchell Cheah and therefore I’m definitely going to be working with him to make sure he has a fair chance at the championship.”
In the Rookie Class, Muhammad Hamdany clinched his first ever race victory to retain his sterling record of four podium finishes in four races so far. The 19-year-old karter from Kuching, Sarawak finished ahead of simulator racer Nabil Azlan, and the only female driver in the Vios Challenge series, Adele Lew who came in third.
“I was so worried before the start and I changed the set-up of the car which includes readjusting tyre pressures (due to the rain). I’m extremely happy everything worked out well and I was able to finish in P1,” said Muhammad Hamdany.
For Lew, the third place finish marked his first ever podium finish. The 20-year-old is also the daughter of Super Sporting Class and veteran driver Eddie Lew.
“I’m extremely happy with my first podium. It was a wet race and this was also my first ever experience racing in these conditions. I had to do some defending at the start of the race but I managed to steer clear of any incidents and maintained my position for 14 laps,” said Lew who joined Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Young Talent Development Program with only minimal experience driving fun karts.
The gentlemen and amateur drivers in the Sporting Class also put up an incredible show on the track with Axle Motorsport’s Naquib Azlan concluding a perfect race weekend with two race wins. Finishing second and perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was 23 Motors’ Abdul Miqail, followed by M7 Japan Project Team’s Ahmad Tarmimi Tahang.
Starting from sixth position on the grid following a reverse grid format after yesterday’s Race 1 victory, Naquib was on a very determined charge from the get-go, seizing control of the race lead and building a five second gap from as early as the third lap of the 20-lap race.
“I’m very happy with how this weekend went. I came in with very high expectations this weekend, wanting to rectify the mistakes of Round 1 and thankfully I was able to rectify that with two wins,” said Naquib.
“It was however, never going to be straight forward, because carrying a weight penalty of 35kg meant it would be difficult especially starting sixth. It then became a matter of how to get pass everyone else and fortunately Abdul Miqail and I were able to do this quite quickly in the first lap. Overall, I am really happy and the competition was super tough.”
Ahmad Tarmimi was also the biggest gainer, climbing from ninth to third place, but the highlight of the race was certainly the performance by 16-year-old Abdul Miqail who also finished on the podium twice in two races this weekend.
“I am very grateful to have been able to do my best for the team and in the process improved on my own driving…It was a good weekend,” said Abdul Miqail.
Lots of drama on the track in the Promotional Class for celebrities would also disappoint early predictions of actors Zizan Razak and Shukri Yahaya running away with the 18-lap race as they had done in yesterday’s Race 1. Being the race favourite, Zizan was eyeing a second race win and had held on the lead for much of the race until a technical issue with his transmission forced him to concede five places with three laps to finish.
Shukri was the first to take full advantage of his misfortune, but would later suffer a similar fate which promoted television host Nabil Ahmad to race leader. And with two laps to go, singer Wany Hasrita and actress Janna Nick blazed pass the pair of Zizan and Shukri to clinch second and third positions respectively.
Finishing fourth was singer Nabila Razali, while Shukri and Zizan crossed the line in fifth and sixth positions respectively. TV personality Ahirine Ahirudin claimed seventh place and TV host Ain Edruce finished eighth while singer Khai Bahar concluded a disappointing race weekend with a retirement.
“This is my first podium finish in two seasons. I started from pole position and sitting there waiting for the green starting lights to come on, I prayed for good race. It was indeed a very good race and I am extremely thankful, despite facing numerous challenges on the track from going off the track, accidentally hitting and being hit by others,” said an elated Janna.
Round 3 of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival and Vios Challenge is scheduled for September. For more information, visit the UMW Toyota Motor (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd website at www.toyota.com.my.
RACE RESULTS, RACE 2
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
1. Tengku Djan Ley – Prima Pearl TD Racing Team
2. Mark Darwin – Laser Motor Racing
3. Hayden Haikal – Axle Motorsports
1. Naquib Azlan – Axle Motorsports
2. Abdul Miqail – 23 Motors
3. Tarmimi Tahang – M7 Japan Project Team
1. Muhammad Hamdany
2. Nabil Azlan
3. Adele Lew
1. Nabil Ahmad
2. Wany Hasrita
3. Janna Nick