Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Motorsport: A Fabulous Ending To The First Toyota Vios Challenge Race Series - The Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival Is A Success for UMW Toyota

The first ever Vios Challenge season here in Malaysia recently concluded at the final races on the 24th and 25th of March 2018. It was a satisfying end to the one make series which can be said to be quite an effort for a car manufacturer. Whilst increasing the profile of the simple Toyota Vios by making it into a racing car, it is also a noble initiative by Toyota Malaysia to introduce grassroot racing to the general population. 

The reason that the racing is touted as one of the events that are bringing back grassroots or entry level racing is that it brings the racing to the people where it combines affordable racing cars, a sales carnival complete with new cars and other activities for the whole family close to where large population are located. The earliest rounds of the Vios Challenge were held at Batu Kawan Penang, MAEPS in Serdang and Medini City Johor. Racing became an event which can be enjoyed by all and it brought in more interest to others.

The Vios Challenge is the focal point of the carnival like weekend. The cars which race one another are the popular entry level Toyota Vios sedan. In the race series, some 40 identically-built Toyota Vios race in three classifications which are the Sporting, Super Sporting and Promotional classes. It is the integral part of what UMW Toyota Motor or Toyota Malaysia calls the Toyota GAZOO Racing (TGR) Racing Festival - where there is input from GAZOO Racing which runs a successful campaign racing Toyota cars here and there globally. 

This festival is where many fun activities such as celebrity appearances, stage games, drift performances, car displays, carnival food and lots more are part of the draw to get families on a weekend outing. It brings fun and racing for all. Rather than go to a track like Sepang which is actually far from the crowds of large urban areas like the greater Kuala Lumpur area - which includes venues like MAEPS Serdang and the Technology Park Malaysia in Seri Kembangan as well as venues like Medini and Batu Kawan. All readily accessible for the general public.

President of UMW Toyota Motor Mr. Ravindran K was quoted to say, “The Vios Challenge was aimed at bringing motor racing closer to Malaysians. We wanted everyone to appreciate motor racing in a fun yet safe environment and to make it a weekend outing for the whole family. Judging from the happy expressions of the crowds at each venue, I believe we have successfully brought an appealing event to everyone.” 

It has been popular in terms of the number of people attending the events. UMW Toyota have stated that the attendance at each venue was about 21,000 spectators each race weekend. This undoubtedly makes it one of the most popular locals Motorsport events in recent history bar the major events like the recenly ended Sepang Formula 1 races and the MotoGP races of course.

But fun activity aside, the racing is one of the draws. There are people who live, breathe motorsport and the event actually allows them to participate and also to view. The quality of racing is a mix of the experiences Super Sporting class where those competiting are the seasoned veterans of the Malaysian motorsport scene. The Sporting class allows amateurs to try out series racing  and the Promotional classes, where local celebrities try their hands at racing and are also crowd drawers too.Good thing that some of them can drive too. Actors like Shukri Yahaya, Diana Danielle, Janna Nick participated with Shukri's driving almost as good as the guys in the second row of the Sporting class. 

Deputy Chairman of UMW Toyota Mr. Akio Takeyama had stated that they hoped that when they brought the concept to Malaysia the company could promote motor racing to new participants and allow them to build on their own abilities thus making them better racers and better drivers on the road. The best thing is that Mr Takeyama himself would actually race every weekend too as he competed in the promotional class too! Speaking about the winner of the promotional class, beatboxing sensation Shawn Lee claimed the series win in his Promotional class, suffering only two losses throughout the eight races.

The Super Sporting class saw Malaysian drift maestro and track star Tengku Djan took the title with William Ho taking the runner-up spot. 

Brandon Paul Anthony, the 20 year old kid who had never raced previously and only joined the Sporting class on the second event at MAEPS actually won the championship even though he missed the opening races. Must be some amazing racing on his part throughout his participation. One must remember that the cars are almost the same with only a little bit of suspension tweaking allowed for all the cars competing.

Quite an interesting event for everyone to see and experience. UMW Toyota Motor have stated that they are committed to keeping the Vios Challenge series on for some time. So when the second season of the series starts in the later part of 2018, things should get more interesting. I know that some races can't wait. Even some of the celebs are eager beavers I heard.

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