After a year’s hiatus, Malaysian motorsports fans will be able to witness local motor racing with the start of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival. After some delay, Round 1 Season 4 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival will take place at the Sepang International Circuit from 27 – 28 March 2021.
The first Vios Challenge race of the season however, will be a closed-door event. The festival will be conforming to strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) and will operate in a sports bubble as a health and safety precaution. Racing fans however, will be able to catch the live stream of this racing carnival.
The Vios Challenge will consist of four classes of racing which includes the inaugural running of the Rookie Class featuring six new graduates of the Gazoo Racing Young Talent Development Program who are stepping up from karting and simulator to racing in a saloon car for their very first time. The Promotional Class will field local celebrities, three of whom are new faces; while the Sporting Class for charging amateur drivers; and the Super Sporting Class for elite and professional drivers.
The two-day festival is being planned as the biggest live streaming racing carnival in Malaysia. As a meticulously-curated live streamed event, viewers will get front row seats at the Vios Challenge race weekend. The live stream will showcase three qualifying sessions, six exciting individual races, pit lane insights, interviews with racers, a celebrity-studded performance and other exciting content. There will also be opportunities to win attractive prizes.
“It’s exciting to be back racing, but as much as we would like to immediately open our doors to race fans for them to be on site, the threat of the pandemic has offered up a new and perhaps an even more promising way of enabling millions of race fans to catch the action on and off the track during the race weekend via live streaming and in the comfort and safety of their homes,” said UMW Toyota Deputy Chairman and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsport Officer Akio Takeyama.
“The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival has primarily been about bringing motorsports to the masses – this focus has not changed – and to a great extent, we have successfully accomplished this by bringing the races to so many different locations since 2017. The opportunity to live stream the carnival and an entire race weekend would mean reaching out to an even larger and wider audience, including racing fans outside of Malaysia. The challenge before us today is to bring the energy and atmosphere of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival online.”
In the Promotional Class, actor Shukri Yahaya will lead the star-studded line-up and will be joined by actress Janna Nick, presenter Nabil Ahmad and singers Wany Hasrita, Nabila Razali and Khai Bahar. They will be joined by three newcomers, actor Zizan Razak, singer/song writer Talitha Tan and television personality Ahirene Ahirudin.
Last season’s Promotional Class champion Shawn Lee meanwhile, makes his fourth consecutive season appearance but this time rejoining as a privateer in the Sporting Class for amateur drivers after earning a class promotion. It will be Lee’s second stint in the competitive class having won the Promotional Class in Season 1, moving up to Sporting Class in Season 2 and returning to win his second Promotional Class title in Season 3.
Names to look out for include last season’s runner-up and Dream Chaser driver Bradley Benedict Anthony, Season 3’s second runner-up Haji Sutan Mustaffa, and a long list of race winners and podium contenders who include Kenneth Koh, Adam Khalid, Dato’ Dr Ken Foo, Lim Chun Beng, Tom Goh, Mirza Syahmi and Dannies Ng.
Meanwhile, the Sporting Class will field a total of 19 drivers gunning for the prospect of being crowned the new champion in Season 4. In the intensely competitive Super Sporting Class, two-time Vios Challenge champion and recently minted TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Ambassador Tengku Djan Ley returns to the grid to defend his title.
Last season’s Sporting Class champion and the youngest ever winner of the Vios Challenge, 16 year-old Hayden Haikal meanwhile, has also earned a promotion into the Super Sporting Class and the chance to prove himself worthy against a grid of 11 professional racers.
Other contenders in the class to look out for will be Season 2 champion Boy Wong, last season’s runner-up Mark Darwin, last season’s second runner-up Freddie Ang, and big names the likes of accomplished racers William Ho, Kenny Lee, Keifli Othman, Syafiq Ali and former Sporting Class champion Brendan Paul Anthony.
Also sharing the grid with the professionals but classified in a separate class of their own will be the six new young drivers in the Rookie Class. They are simulator racers Mika Hakimi, 17 and Naquib Azlan, 20; and karters Amer Harris, 17; Jwan Hii, 18; Putera Adam, 14; and Troy Eimann, 16.
“This (the Rookie Class) is another exciting new element in Season 4, and something that all of us at Toyota are looking forward to seeing. It is the result of several months of training and you will be surprised at how well these young drivers have adapted to saloon car racing. This is another small way of giving back to the racing community in Malaysia, opening the door for talented drivers to progress up the racing ladder,” said Takeyama.
Overall, Season 4 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Festival will feature three unique racing series throughout the year, offering 11 spectacular races. The season ahead will be anchored by the three rounds and a total of six races in the Vios Challenge.
And for the first time, GAZOO Racing will also make its presence felt in the national racing series with the introduction of the GAZOO Racing Vios Sprint Cup which will see two rounds and a total of 4 races being held, and the GAZOO Racing Enduro Cup that will be run in conjunction with the annual Sepang 1000km Endurance Race.
All the action of Round 1 will be broadcast live on the UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd websites: toyota.com.my and toyota.com.my/tgrmalaysia/ as well as on the Toyota Malaysia and Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia Facebook pages.