Round 3 of the Toyota Vios Challenge (season 2), part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Racing Festival, saw a lot of exciting, close racing action at the 1.56-km street circuit next to Stadium Batu Kawan in Penang. Unlike last year, there was no rain at all this year and it was a scorcher for both drivers and spectators.

After yesterday’s practices, the drivers to look out for in the three categories were clear and the qualifying sessions in the morning today laid out the starting grid. There are two races for each category, one on the first day and another on the second day. So the drivers, while trying the best to do well, must also be mindful that they need to use the car the next day.

Series leader Boy Wong (No.21 above) stormed into victory in Race 1, finishing ahead of Team Dream Chaser’s Brendan Paul Anthony and Team Nanoplus driver Keifli Othman. Wong made the most of his pole position to lead into the first corner and was able to stay clear of the jostling behind him which resulted in two cars retiring from the race.

Fighting for second position, Brendan and Kegani Racing Team’s Kenny Lee were side by side into the first corner. Lee found himself squeezed into the wall and rebounded back in front of team mate William Ho. That promoted Team Nanoplus drivers Keifli Othman and Eddie Liew into third and fourth positions with Laser Motor Racing’s Alif Mohamed Hamdan in fifth.

“I had an excellent start and had the inside line going into the first corner. I’m not quite sure what happened but next thing I realized Lee was into the wall,” said Brendan Paul. “The racing conditions were extremely difficult with the heat.”

Seven laps into the 22-lap race and in just a matter of two corners, the top 5 quickest qualifiers were essentially knocked out of contention in what was a dramatic start to the race. Pole position man Brendon Lim made the best of a good start to lead the race ahead of Kenneth Koh, 15-year-old Hayden Haikal, Dato’ Ken Foo Kwok Hsing and Shukri Yahaya. Lim initially built up a 1.5-second gap but as his pace slowed, Koh attempted to overtake twice, the first tearing Lim’s rear bumper while the second pushing him into the concrete barrier.

That gave Hayden, Foo and Shukri the opportunity to jostle for the top three positions but contact between Shukri and Foo eventually sent both cars into the concrete barrier and taking out Hayden in the process.

The safety car was brought onto the track for 5 laps and after the wreckage was cleared, it was Distinctive Model’s Clement Yeo who inherited the lead from sixth position, followed by Team Nanoplus driver Patrick Tam and ST Wangan Racing Team’s Eric Yong. “With so much of action at the front of the grid, I had a gut feeling something was going to happen and I just kept a safe distance. It was certainly an unexpected result!” said Clement.

The celebrities were no less competitive in the Promotional Class which saw actress Diana Danielle clinching victory in the 20-lap race ahead of television presenter and comedian Nabil Ahmad and singer Akim Ahmad. The race however, finished behind the Safety Car (a Toyota Camry) after two incidents on the track.

Starting from pole position, Diana led into the first corner with Nabil, and singers Aiman Tino, Akim and Khai Bahar in hot pursuit. By the second lap Diana stretched her lead to 1.9 seconds ahead of Nabil but an incident involving Aiman brought out the Safety Car for 7 laps.

With 7 laps to the finish, the Safety Car was again deployed, this time to allow track personnel to recover the wreckage of singer Nabila Razali who hit the concrete barrier.

More than 40 racers are competing in this second last round of the Toyota Vios Challenge this weekend. Race 2 will take place tomorrow (Sunday).

Fans got to meet the celebrity racers and take selfies as well as receive autographed posters.
Toyo Tires brought in two top drifters from Japan to thrill the crowds.
The latest Toyota models were on display and the C-HR attracted a lot of interest. Test-drives were available and many took the chance to experience the drive.

[Chips Yap]

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