Motorsports Amer at Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing

Published on November 28th, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Toyota Developing Motorsports Talent In Malaysia

Here’s How Toyota is Developing Young Malaysian Motorsport Talent Today

At one time, Malaysia was seen as the go-to hub for motorsport-related activities in the region. Today, the story is much different. There are still some very talented Malaysians out there who do the country proud, but cultivating young Malaysian talent is something that’s mostly neglected. Which is why Toyota has stepped in.

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You may have heard of Toyota’s annual Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing Festival, but did you know there’s also a Gazoo Racing Young Talent Development Program that’s running in Malaysia? The program is aimed at nurturing Malaysians aged between 14 and 20 who have shown promise in the world of motorsports. The young drivers will be trained by seasoned Malaysian motorsport veterans Alex Yoong, Tengku Djan Ley, Mark Darwin, Adam Khalid and Hayden Haikal (who is himself the youngest driver to win the Vios Challenge. At the end of the program, the candidates will be given a chance to compete in Season 4 of the Toyota Vios Challenge.

Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing event signing
Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing drivers
Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing

Currently, 17-year old go-karter Amer Harris is in the GR Young Talent Development Program. Amer took his childhood obsession with cars and transformed it into a passion for racing. He worked his way up from the cadet to the junior and senior classes of karting. In 2016 Amer won the Cadet class in the Rotax Max Challenge Asia, and in 2018 he became champion in the senior class. He was also placed second overall in the 2018 X30 Asia Cup Final. 

Karting at an international level was extremely costly though. “In terms of finances, it has been really tough because my parents spent everything they earned on me pursuing my interest in racing. Last year was a good example where I had three stints in Europe costing approximately RM60,000 per race and we really had to stretch it out with our own money.” 

That stint at the European Karting Championship had Amer qualifying 8th in his very first appearance against 70 of the world’s best karters and he eventually went on to finish 22nd overall.

Receiving the call up to join the Gazoo Racing Young Talent Development Program, Amer said it was a dream come true.

“It was really funny because I received the call informing me that I was one of six candidates shortlisted for the program during recess at school. I was asked if I was interested. Of course I would be interested to join!” he said.

Alex Yoong training the Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing drivers
Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing cockpit
Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing race car
Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing drivers training

“I am obviously still overwhelmed with emotions and I feel privileged as well to be in this program because Toyota is such a big name not just in Malaysia but all over the world with its success in Formula One, Super GT, rally and the brand is also a big movement in the car culture,” continued Amer.

As a teenager who will also be sitting for his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations early next year, Amer also holds firm to the belief that both his racing and studies must go hand in hand.

“I have to commit to both racing and my studies, and this means making full use of my time. There is no excuse to be left behind in my studies,” said the young man. As of now, Amer Harris and five others have been tutored in the importance of mental preparation and have gone from kart to simulator racing and into the Toyota Vios racing car that’s used at the annual Vios Challenge. 

Vios Challenge and Gazoo Racing team

“I think the car is very well balanced. It is easy to drive but it is also easy to overdrive if you exceed your limits. The key is to be smooth with your braking and steering angles –slow in fast out. And because we will all be racing identical cars, it is very important to understand the dynamics of the car and to drive it to its fullest potential,” said Amer.

We’re certainly looking forward to seeing this young Malaysian’s career unfold.

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