Published on April 2nd, 2018 | by Subhash Nair0
The 1st Vios Challenge Comes to a Close, Proving Motorsport is Still Alive in Malaysia
The inaugural Vios Challenge season reached its climactic finale in Technology Park Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur on 24th and 25th March 2018, bringing with it the thrills and excitement that Malaysians seldom witness on their home soil.
It had been touted as one of the most ambitious racing projects to be undertaken by a single car company but the initiative to introduce grassroots racing to the masses has been exceptionally successful judging by the crowds that came to the event in KL last weekend as well as in the earliest rounds in Batu Kawan, Penang, MAEPS, Serdang and in Medini City, Johor.
The Vios Challenge is the focal point of the weekend where some 40 identically-built Toyota Vios race in three classifications namely Sporting, Super Sporting and Promotional. It is the integral part of the Toyota GAZOO Racing (TGR) Racing Festival where exciting and fun activities such as celebrity appearances, stage games, drift performances, car displays, carnival food and lots more are part of the draw to get families on a weekend outing.
“The Vios Challenge was aimed at bringing motor racing closer to Malaysians. We wanted everyone to appreciate motor racing in a fun yet safe environment and to make it a weekend outing for the whole family. Judging from the happy expressions of the crowds at each venue, I believe we have successfully brought an appealing event to everyone,” said President of UMW Toyota Motor Mr. Ravindran K.
Attendance at each venue has averaged over 21,000 spectators per weekend, making it one of the most popular locals Motorsport events in recent history. Undoubtedly, the quality of racing has been top notch, not only from the crème de la crème Super Sporting class but also from the Sporting and the Promotional classes that have given everyone lots to cheer from the get-go.
The drivers in the Promotional class in particular may have brought their star appeal to the event but their on-track performance has been nothing short of impressive. Shukri Yahaya for instance, is better known for his roles in blockbuster TV dramas. Yet by the final race in the TPM, his lap times in qualifying could have placed him on the second row of the Sporting class grid while actress Diana Danielle, a mother of
two who confessed to forgetting how to drive a manual car during her racing school stint, would have made it into the top 10 of the same grid.
“This was our hope when we brought the concept to Malaysia. We wanted to expose motor racing to new participants and allow them to build on their own abilities;making them better racers and better drivers on the road,” said Deputy Chairman of UMW Toyota Mr. Akio Takeyama.
Mr. Takeyama would be the most qualified to speak on the matter as he himself strapped into a Toyota Vios every race weekend and battled it out with his fellow competitors in the Promotional class. Despite have no racing background, his race craft and car handling at the end of the season has made him a true competitor. Beatboxing sensation Shawn Lee continued on his winning ways and claimed the series in his Promotional class, suffering only two losses throughout the eight races.
However, it was a fellow drift driver in the Super Sporting class Tengku Djan who kept motor racing aficionados on the edge of their seats each time he took to the track.
Djan’s on-track antics and amazing car control was a sight to behold although the hard-charging William Ho made him work very hard for the title. The story of the series must be that of the young sensation Brandon Paul Anthony. The 20-year- old had previously never raced in a Toyota Vios and joined the series only in the second event in MAEPS. He then stormed up the ladder to seal his championship with a flourish in the TPM.
There was plenty of unpolished gems that emerged throughout the season and come the later half of 2018, some others may emerge when Season 2 of the Vios Challenge takes to the circuits.