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The second day of the Toyota GAZOO Racing (TGR) Racing Festival started today with much anticipation of more intense competition among the racers in the Vios Challenge One-Make Race, the highlight of the event at Medini City in Johor. After a massively dramatic start in yesterday’s Sporting Class, today’s Race 2 saw a more ‘orderly’ departure from the starting grid with Wong Chin Eeg moving off from Pole and Brendan Paul Anthony alongside him. Wong, a rookie, had yet another great start as he led the pack into the first of 8 turns on the circuit, with pro go-karter Brendan following close behind.

It was obvious that Wong was trying his best but the 19-year old Brendan put his obvious racing experience to good use and lined Wong up at the end of the opening lap to make a clean move on the inside going into a turn. Brendan tried to make a gap but Wong doggedly took advantage of the draft from the Dream Chaser car to keep it a narrow one.

The pair slowly pulled away from third-placed Kenneth Koh who was under attack by Tedco Racing’s Brendon Lim. By lap 6, the gap had expanded to over 5 seconds and continued to grow until Lap 9 when Clement Yeo in his Team Distinctive Model car made a move on Shanmuganathan in Turn 1.

The pair touched but Yeo managed to get ahead with Shan and Ken Foo in tow. Clement hesitated going into the hairpin, allowing the pair to pass him. Two laps later, Clement built up enough momentum down the front straight but ran out of brakes, pushing Shan’s car into the barriers and bringing the Camry Hybrid Safety Car out. With water from the broken barricades flowing on the track, the race resumed with Turn 1 put under a permanent yellow flag for the rest of the race.

While the leaders maintained their positions to the end of the race, there were also dramas further back. On the penultimate lap, Patrick Tam made a bold move to pass Goh Eng Peng on the inside of Turn 5. However, he over-braked and hit the left rear corner of Goh’s car, causing him to spin out and retiring from the race for the second time in this round.

In the Promotional Class where celebrities participated, it was once again Shawn Lee who made a great start with a perfect launch, extending his gap from the group by a substantial margin even before Turn 1. Janna Nick, cheered on by her fans, drove superbly in Race 1 and was aiming to do even better today. She made a brave charge through the mid pack only to lock the brakes going into Turn 1 on Lap 3. Startled though she was, she managed to recover showed greater determination to move up.

Meanwhile, Shukri was not about to let Shawn get away and managed to close the gap. He inched up to Shawn by lap 2 and was giving the beatboxer a run for his money. The Safety Car had to come out after an incident but after it returned to the pits on Lap 5, Shukri made his move and successfully passed going into Turn 1. While the pair were battling each other, Fattah Amin slowly but surely began to come up behind.

Shawn remained determined to regain the lead and on Lap 7, he made his move going into the hairpin. This time, he got past and pushed hard from there to open up a gap. While Fattah was busy chasing down Shukri, it was Danny Khoo who crept up and was now giving Fattah a hard time for precious 3rd position. On Lap 9, Danny tapped Fattah in the hairpin but couldn’t get through. Then on the fast Turn 2, Danny went wide and hit the wall pretty hard, damaging his front suspension and ending his race. Shawn Lee maintained his pace and earned himself a double win with Shukri Yahya and Fattah Amin repeating the podium positions from Race 1.

With the top 6 drivers in the Super Sporting Class (for experienced drivers) reversed on the starting grid, it was Keifli Othman of Laser Motor Racing who started on pole with Tengku Djan alongside him. Keifli made a clean start with Djan chasing him closely. As the pair moved towards the outside of Turn 1, Boy Wong who started from the third row saw the gap on the inside and went for it. Unfortunately, the pair turned in for the corner and Boy forced Djan to go wide. The Team Nanoplus driver managed to avoid getting intimate with the barriers to continue his pursuit of Keifli while Syafiq Ali maintained his third position.

Keifli found that he could maintain a good gap from Djan who himself was under threat from Syafiq. The trio slowly pulled away from the next pack of William Ho in 4th and Kenny Lee in 5th. On lap 8, Mitchell Cheah began catching Kenny Lee and lined him up for a pass. On lap 10, he made his attempt going into Turn 1 but failed to pull it off. The pair rubbed bodies and Mitchell lost his front right tyre although he escaped a date with the wall.

Noting that Djan was now nursing a car that didn’t seem to be braking well, Syafiq pushed even harder in his M7 Racing Team car. He relentlessly pressured Djan and even ran wide on Turn 4 glancing the wall. It didn’t stop him and on the final lap, the hearts of spectators in Medini skipped a beat when Djan, anticipating an attempt on the inside of Turn 1, gave Syafiq an extremely wide berth. Syafiq, needing no second invitation, went for the inside line. However, Djan called Syafiq’s bluff by shuffling his car behind Syafiq on the inside to deny him the position.

Sadly for Syafiq, he didn’t want to give up and in his final attempt, he clipped the wall in Turn 3, resulting in a puncture and allowing William Ho, who until then was running a lonely 4th to inherit the final podium position.

With the numerous surprises in the results, the season finale back in Kuala Lumpur in March promises to be very exciting.

By correctly answering a few questions during the second round of the TGR Racing Festival and submitting his entry for the draw, Muhammad Haye Nafiqi bin Saidin (left) became the proud owner of a new Toyota Vios Sports Edition (right) worth over RM85,000.

Click here for the report of Day 1 of the 3rd TGR Racing Festival.

[Chips Yap]

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