This weekend sees the third round of the Toyota Vios Challenge, part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Racing Festival, taking place at the Stadium Batu Kawan complex in Penang (mainland side). As in previous rounds and throughout the first season, the 2-day festival combines a closely-fought street racing series with an abundance of activities for all the family.
The highlight is, of course, the Toyota Vios Challenge, a one-make championship series which is in its second season. It will be run on a specially-prepared 1.56-km long circuit which features 11 corners and 6 straights.
There are 2 classes – Sporting and Super Sporting – for drivers of different skill and experience levels, plus a Promotional class which has local celebrities taking party. These include Diana Danielle, Janna Nick, Nabil Ahmad, Khai Bahar, Akim Ahmad, Mohd Shukri Yahaya, Shawn Lee, Wany Hasrita, Nabila Razali and Aiman Tino.
With three podium finishes in 4 races, all eyes will be on singer Akim Ahmad as he races around the Batu Kawan track for the first time. Akim has been the most consistent drivers in the class and while he keeps a low profile, his race record stands out and he leads the overall point standings.
Competing in the Sporting Class this season after a success first season in the Promotional Class, celebrity beat boxer Shawn Lee will certainly be looking to repeat the double victory he achieved at Batu Kawan in Season 1.
“The competition in the Sporting class has been extremely intense with door-to-door battles from the get go and this is precisely what fuels my passion to compete in the Toyota Vios Challenge. It has certainly been a very challenging test of nerves and my driving ability,” said Shawn.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
After 4 races in Season 2, the three most prominent names that continue to consistently dominate the series are undoubtedly William Ho, Boy Wong and Kenny Lee. Facing each other again at Batu Kawan, they each have one race victory to their credit but Wong is the only driver who has consistently finished all 4 races so far and has scored three podium finishes in the process. The high placings put him currently in the lead in overall point standings.
“The competition is super tough with so many big names on the grid, but my strategy from the start has always been to drive consistently and to avoid making any unnecessary mistakes. Pushing hard is one thing, but you have to do it carefully without taking too much risk,” he said.
The other activities
In between the races, visitors to the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival can check out the latest Toyota models, including the all-new Camry and recently-launched Vios. The Batu Kawan area is a great place for test-drives and there will also be race-themed merchandise on sale as well as attractive prizes to be won in lucky draws throughout the weekend.
Car clubs will also be turning up with their members proudly showing off various Toyota models, including the iconic AE86 ‘Hachi-roku’ (below) that was made famous by the InitialD series.
Toyo Tyres, a partner in the event, has also brought in two professional drifters from Japan. They will be taking Toyota 86 sportscars to the limit with extreme tyre-smoking maneuvers (above).
Fitness enthusiasts can join a Fun Run which will take place on Sunday morning (February 24) around the race track. A Zumba session has also been planned which will also see the participation of several celebrities. There will also be celebrity autograph sessions with fans and a performance by the competing celebrities to end the weekend.
“The atmosphere in Penang over a race weekend is phenomenal going by the overwhelming reception we received when we first embarked on the TGR Racing Festival here in 2017. It gives Toyota great pleasure to return to Stadium Batu Kawan with an even more exciting line-up of activities for fans,” said UMW Toyota Motor’s President, Ravindran K.
“As we come to the halfway point of Season 2, the TGR Racing Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge have had an enormous impact in terms of allowing the masses to better understand, see and experience for themselves the renewed image and philosophy of the brand moving forward… It’s All About the Drive,” he added.