Shah Alam, 24 JULY 2022 – The Young Driver Development Program introduced by UMW Toyota Motor and GAZOO Racing over the past two years has had a profound impact with several of its rookie drivers quickly rising to be noticed in the top ranks of Malaysian motorsports.
In Round 2 of the GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup which concluded today, 16-year-old Putera Adam raced to a double race win over the weekend, with his partner and veteran racer Eddie Liew in the #61 Laser Motor Racing Vios. The weekend also saw sterling performances by Naquib Azlan and Mika Hakimi. All three young drivers had been pioneers of the program which was started in 2021 to groom drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 who are transitioning from karting and simulator racing to saloon car racing. Both Putera and Naquib also went on to score podium finishes in the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) also held over the weekend.
Others in the program competing in this weekend’s finale of the GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup included the current season’s Rookie Class drivers Nabil Azlan and Sharique Zulqarinain, and 2021 Rookie Class graduate Jwan Hii.
“It’s incredible to see how much and how quickly these young drivers have evolved. We are equally proud that many have also gone on to compete and are enjoying success in other events beyond the Vios Challenge and Vios Sprint Cup one-make series where they have trained so hard to develop their driving and race craft,” said UMW Toyota Motor President Ravindran K.
Commenting on the GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup, Ravindran said: “The two-driver and one-hour format has brought a different dimension to what we and the drivers have been used to in five seasons of the Vios Challenge. It’s incredibly exciting to watch, it’s unpredictable, and it fulfills one very important objective that is to have elite/experienced working alongside amateur/young drivers with the hope that they will be able to impart their knowledge to the next generation of drivers.”
Held in conjunction with the Malaysia Championship Series, the GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup had consisted of 2 rounds and 4 individual races. It is a one-make race involving two-driver teams competing in a one-hour race and vying for total prize monies amounting to RM60,000 per weekend.
The GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup is run independently of the Vios Challenge but it retains the format of a one-make series whereby competitors drive identical race-prepared Toyota Vios with stock standard engine & transmission, as well as suspension, tyres and fuel – to ensure that the emphasis is on race craft, driving skills and experience.
In today’s fourth and final running of the GAZOO Racing Sprint Cup, Putera and Liew rounded up a perfect weekend in rather precarious conditions with back to back victories.
Round 2’s Race 2 began as a dry race despite an overcast at Sepang International Circuit and as the one-hour duel around the 5.543Km track got underway, it began to drizzle which made track conditions extremely slippery and unpredictable in certain sections.
The race was essentially 18-year-old Mika’s to win, having taken over driving duties from his team mate Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel in the #61 Prima Pearl TD Racing Vios, with Liew pouncing hard just 0.5 seconds behind, and Toyotsu Racing’s William Ho in third place.
Heavy rain descended on the race with just two laps to the finish and the pressure to defend his lead seemed to have gotten the better of Mika who aquaplaned off the track, easily letting Liew, Ho and Prima Pearl TD Racing’s second car the #12 with Mitchell Cheah in the driver’s seat through. Mika fought his way back on to the track rejoining in fourth position but made a second and same mistake on the final lap in the very same corner to eventually finish fifth behind Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang.
The last lap of the race had been equally nerve wrecking for Liew who in the heavy rain, had to fend off Ho who was left dragging his rear bumper for several laps after a botched overtaking maneuver much earlier.
“Today I really utilized all my experience to drive in the dry, wet and in heavy rain. It was a difficult race,” said 48-year-old Liew.
For Putera who started the race for the pair, a slow getaway dropped him to as far back as 10th despite starting from sixth position.
“I struggled a bit at the start. After regrouping over three to four laps I chased for the lead and eventually led the race but in no time, I had Tengku Djan on my back and he was definitely a lot faster. After he passed me, I just decided to follow him because I knew it was a long race ahead,” said Putera.
Commenting on his partnership with Liew and the vast difference in age, Putera also said: “It’s an honour to drive with Eddie (Liew). He’s a very good driver and he used to drive with my dad.”
The biggest gainer in today’s Race 2 however, was Super Evergreen Motorsports’ Mohamad Roni who jumped from 14th on the grid to second position in the opening laps of the race, before being punted off the track in a race incident. Disappointments over the weekend included that endured by the pair of Naquib and Hayden Haikal representing Axle Sports who gave away a victory in Race 1 with a last lap incident, and was again involved in an incident in Race 2 eliminating them from contention.
The champion in each of the two races at the GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup stood to win RM10,000 cash, followed by RM8,000 for the first runner up, RM6,000 to the third place winner, and RM4,000 and RM2,000 for the fourth and fifth place winners respectively. In total, the Vios Sprint Cup offered prize monies that amounted to RM60,000 per round, making it the second most lucrative racing event in Malaysia after the Vios Challenge.
In four races held and from a total of RM120,000 at stake, the pair of Tengku Djan and Mika emerged with the most winnings, totaling RM30,000 accumulated from two race victories, and a second and fifth place finish. The pair of Putera and Liew meanwhile, bagged a total of RM24,000 over 4 races with two victories and a fourth placing.
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GR VIOS SPRINT CUP – RACE 2 RESULTS
1. Eddie Liew/Putera Adam – Laser Motor Racing
2. William Ho/Liew Jo Choon – Toyotsu Racing
3. Zizan Razak/Mitchell Cheah – Prima Pearl TD Racing
4. Freddie Ang/James Liam Russell – Telagamas Toyota
5. Mika Hakimi/Tengku Djan Ley – Prima Pearl TD Racing