The circuit for the second round of the Vios Challenge at this weekend’s TGR Racing Festival is at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) outside Kuala Lumpur. Other than this weekend, it does not exist because it is purpose-built for the event with all the required protective barriers to ensure the safety of the public who can get very close to the action.

This is the second time the circuit has been set up at the MAEPS, the first being last year for the first season of the Vios Challenge. The layout is pretty much the same so those who took part last year will be familiar with it.

It runs clockwise and is 1.99 kms long with 17 turns and constantly changing gradients. To get an idea of what it is like racing around the circuit, 45-year old Keifli Othman takes us for one lap. He’s a former superbike, single-seater and saloon car champion, and one of the more accomplished drivers competing in the Super Sporting Class of the Vios Challenge.

“The starting grid goes into a slight downhill and we will hit as high as third gear before reaching a very tricky right-hander at the very first corner. You cannot afford to brake too late, nor can you brake too early and to make conditions even more difficult, there’s an uneven patch on the road right at the braking point. What I do is brake slightly after the 100-metre marker in third gear in order to position the car well for the sharp right hander, and to be smooth on the throttle.

Once you enter and commit to the corner, you can go full throttle all the way into turn 2, which is another right-hander, all the way to turn 3. I lift off on the throttle slightly going into turn 3 and then back on full throttle towards turn 4. By then, I am in fourth gear but for just a split second as the engine is already at the rev limiter in third gear as we approach a sweeping right hander at turn 5 and prepare for turn 6.

Immediately after exiting turn 6, I have to brake hard for turn 7 which is a sharp left corner. The approach to turn 8 is a slight uphill and a sharp right-hander which has to be taken in second gear all the way into turn 9 before hammering back down on the throttle downhill towards turn 10 which is an extremely sharp left hander. I exit turn 10 in second gear followed by a short sprint into another left corner at turn 11 and then have to brake hard, dropping to second gear for turn 12. This part of the circuit is very slippery because of the loose gravel, dirt and sand, so you must brake early and be very smooth.

Heading towards turn 13 is another short uphill stretch driven in second gear and as I exit the sweeping right corner, I start to build up my speed in third gear through a second sweeping right-hander at turn 14. Charging at full throttle, I just tap on the brakes slightly to position the car for turn 15 which is again a right corner.

Turn 16 is a very sharp left hander taken in second or sometimes even first gear, and as I exit I maintain second gear all the way to the final set of right-hand corners at turn 17 which takes me back uphill towards the start/finish line.”

The Vios Challenge is part of the TGR Racing Festival which is on this weekend. Besides the races, there are also many other activities for all the family and there is also the opportunity to view and test-drive the all-new Toyota Rush SUV.

[Chips Yap]

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