Season 5 of the Vios Challenge Series at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival has drawn to a close after drawing a record-high 3.1 million viewers online. After a highly contested season, new overall champions in all four categories – Promotional, Rookie, Sporting, Super Sporting – were decided in the last 20-lap race at the Sepang International Circuit.
“We’ve come a long way in five seasons of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and the Vios Challenge race series since it was started in 2017. At the time of inception, we wanted to change the thinking that Toyota cars are meant for the mature crowd. We wanted to build an ever better car that also attracts younger buyers and today there has been a total shift. Of course, we also wanted to make a significant contribution to Malaysian motorsports,” said UMW Toyota Motor President Ravindran K.
“The Vios Challenge provides us with a very strong platform to evaluate and develop our future cars. We also want our young engineers to be able to contribute to the research and development of future models. The Vios Challenge is the right platform for people to see this and for a lot of young engineers to join us to build better cars for the future,” he added.
In the Super Sporting class, the final race was won by Mitchell Cheah of Prima Pearl TD Racing, ahead of Freddie Ang of Telagamas Toyota. Third place went to Eddie Liew of Laser Motor Racing, with Hayden Haikal of Axle Sports going home the overall Champion of the Super Sporting category.
“It feels just like 2020 when I won the Sporting Class. Going into Race 2 I felt that my car was slower than it was in Race 1 due to the weight penalty and I came under tremendous pressure from the field. The last two laps were the happiest of my life when two drivers had some problems with their cars and that allowed me to pass and move up to fourth place with just enough points to stay ahead in the championship,” said the 18-year-old newly-crowned champion.
In the Rookie class, victory went to Muizzuddin Musyafa, followed by Sharique Zulqarnain and Nabil Azlan. With three race wins going into the final race of the season, third place was enough for Nabil to nab the Rookie Class crown.
“First of all, a massive shout out and thank you to Toyota for giving all of the rookies this opportunity to transition from simulator racing to saloon car racing. It wasn’t an easy task but thankfully, everything went well for me. I learnt from the mistakes I made and that led to three race victories and four podium finishes in six races. I hope to continue racing next year,” said Nabil.
In the Sporting class, Naquib Azlan of Axle Sports scored his second win of the weekend, followed by Mirza Syahmi Mahzan of Carroof Motorsport in second and Tom Goh of S&D Tama Motorsports in third. With a dominant lead, Naquib Azlan went on to clinch the overall Sporting Class champion title. Naquib is now looking forward to compete with the professionals in the Super Sporting class next season, after winning the overall title in the Rookie class in Season 4.
“Starting from the sixth position, it was never going to be straightforward. With the overall championship in mind, I really had to manage the risks that I took. I did not want to get into any incidents that could cost us the championship title. I never expected my transition to the Sporting Class to be so successful, especially with more experienced drivers,” said Naquib.
In the Promotional class, singer Khai Bahar won his first race of the season ahead of actress Ahirine Ahirudin, followed by presenter Nabil Ahmad. The third place finish was enough for Nabil to walk home the Promotional class champion.
Season 5 ended in spectacular fashion with an exclusive event held for only 2,000 race fans where the entire rooftop of the main paddock of the circuit was converted into a festival ground. Fans were treated to activities, meet and greet sessions with celebrities, lucky draws, and concerts at the unique venue. Back-to-back concerts saw performances by Khai Bahar, Ella, girl group Dolla, K-Clique, Wany Hasrita, and Nabila Razali.
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