Hayden Haikal powered to his first-ever race victory in the final round of the Toyota Vios Challenge one-make race held at the Sepang International Circuit this weekend. The 14-year-old led from start to finish in the Sporting class en route to what was also his maiden victory in saloon car racing after making the transition from karting.
Driving like a man possessed, Hayden completed the 20-lap race more than 7 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor on the track. His performance surprised many and should attract the attention of potential team owners.
Starting from second position on the grid, he made a brilliant start to slingshot past pole position man and Panglima City Racing Team’s Kenneth Koh into the first corner of the race. From there on, he set a blistering pace to grow his lead every lap around the 2.61-km North Track at the Sepang International Circuit.
“I got a good start but honestly, I was very nervous as the race unfolded. I was very worried about making a mistake but in the end, everything worked out well. It’s an amazing feeling to win my first ever saloon car race,” said the former two-time Malaysian Rotax Max Challenge karting champion.
Asked if he preferred racing on a street circuit instead of a permanent circuit like Sepang, Hayden added: “I definitely feel more at home racing on a permanent track because it’s a lot wider and you can carry more speed into the corners.”
For second place winner Kenneth Koh, a podium finish was good enough to earn him valuable points that will go into enhancing his chances to win the overall championship.
“Hayden was extremely quick and I could sense this looking at the timing he posted during practice and qualifying. I really couldn’t chase him and the most sensible thing to do was to finish the race with valuable points,” said Koh.
Finishing third was ST Wangan Racing Team’s Eric Yong while celebrities Shawn Lee and Shukri Yahaya completed the race in ninth and tenth positions respectively.
SUPER SPORTING CLASS
M7 Racing Team’s Syafiq Ali claimed victory in Race 1 of the Super Sporting class after an epic four-way battle for victory in the Super Sporting class. Technically, Syafiq crossed the finish line in second place and it was Laser Motor Racing’s Alif Hamdan who won the race by a margin of 6.8 seconds but the latter later incurred a 10-second jumpstart penalty dropping him to third position in the classifications. Finishing second was Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang.
Starting from 11th position on the grid, Syafiq was the biggest gainer of the day moving up six places to fifth position going into the first corner of the race behind pole position man William Ho of Kegani Racing, Ang, ST Wangan Racing Team’s Boy Wong and Alif.
Ho led the race and was locked in a battle at the front with Ang who finally managed to overtake him on the fifth lap. He was also later given a 10-second penalty for jumpstarting.
“The result was unexpected for me, but it’s a great feeling to win again after my last victory in Round 3 in Penang a month ago,” said Syafiq. For Ang, a slight mistake in the lap 16 allowed Syafiq to get pass, and with four laps remaining the positions remained until the chequered flag.
The battle of celebrities in the Promotional Class – a big hit with the crowds at every round – favoured singer Aiman Tino who had claimed victory in Race 1 ahead of actress Diana Danielle and fellow singer Akim Ahmad who finished third.
Diana started from second on the grid but made an excellent getaway at the start to lead into the first corner. She remained in the lead for 6 laps before conceding to an obviously quicker Aiman who kept piling on the pressure.
“There was really nothing much I could do. Aiman was definitely quicker and rather than risk being pressured into making a mistake, I felt the most sensible thing to do was to move aside,” said Diana who despite yielding to Aiman, consolidates her grip on the overall point standings. With one more race to run today, she could well be crowned the overall champion in the Promotional Class in the second season of the series.
Also in the running to be crowned overall champion is Akim who made a brilliant recovery from seventh position on the grid to finish on the podium.
The biggest disappointment of the day was suffered by celebrity presenter and comedian Nabil Ahmad who despite being second quickest in qualifying struggled to find any pace in the 20-lap race and eventually dropped to seventh position.
The final round of the Vios Challenge, part of the TGR Racing Festival, continues today at the Sepang International Circuit. Entrance is free and besides enjoying the racing, there are lots of other activities for all the family till late evening.