The inaugural Vios Challenge turned out to be a baptism of sorts for the racing drivers as torrential afternoon rain made the street circuit a here a tricky and challenging experience for them, many of whom were participating in a motor racing event for the first time in their lives.
The two scheduled races for the day were delayed by the Race Director for safety reasons and were later run to the delight of some 10,755 spectators who turned out in force to soak in the atmosphere at the Toyota GAZOO Racing (TGR) Racing Festival held on the fringes of the Batu Kawan Stadium.
Spectators began filing in early to be among the first to enjoy the experiences including drift exhibitions, celebrity meet-and-greet sessions, stage shows, games and many other activities that entertained the huge crowds.
Among the show-stoppers was the very first northern appearance of the Toyota C-HR that not only made its debut in the display tent, it also led a convoy of Toyota AE86 owners around the Batu Kawan circuit before the rains came down.
The Sporting Category featuring 16 Toyota Vios kicked things off and the race was started under safety car control before the drivers were allowed to go full bore a lap later. Ken Foo from the Dream Chaser Team who began in pole position controlled the race together with Brendon Lim of Team Maxx N Go and the pair gradually pulled out a gap over third-placed Patrick Tam.
The pace began to improve as the race progressed and by lap 8 the confidence level of the drivers was clear as most of the top ten drivers were clocking similar lap times around 1” 26 secs a lap even in damp conditions.
The close racing got the better of Teoh Khai Lin who outbraked himself going into Turn 7 on Lap 11 and nudged Dream Chaser’s Eric Yong who was holding on to fourth position and sent him into the barriers. The incident brought out the safety car for three laps and when they went racing again, it was a sprint to the finish line with just a lap remaining as the race had taken up the scheduled 25-minute duration.
The Promotional Category that was run 30 minutes later opened in similar conditions with Shawn Lee starting behind the pace car from the pole position he earned in qualifying earlier in the day. Fattah Amin who started alongside him did not manage to capitalize on his great grid position as Shukri Yahaya who started from third on the grid, bravely stuck his car on the inside of Turn 1 and picked up the the runners-up spot.
Venice Min who started in seventh also made a great start and managed to climb into sixth before the end of Lap 1.
Shawn was quick to settle down in the light drizzle and he opened up a gap of over two seconds to Shukri by Lap 8. Fattah however was giving Shukri no breathing space and he kept the pressure on all the way till Lap 10 when Venice clipped a kerb at the exit of Turn 9 which slowly deflated her front right tyre.
Going into Turn 11, the deflated tyre pushed her deep into the braking zone and she nudged Jannah Nick into the barriers, causing them to retire from the race. The incident brought the safety car out as the marshals sorted out the cars.
At the restart, Fattah Amin made a daring attempt to dive inside Shukri but the move caused him to clip the kerb and although he bumped Shukri’s car in the process, he came out the worse from the incident and had to retire with a broken rim.
This awarded Danny Koo with the third position although he finished 12 seconds behind leading duo.
More racing action will continue on Sunday and the excitement will be on the two Super Sporting races that feature many top racers including Tengku Djan who will begin from Pole ahead of Mark Darwin and Shafiq Ali who are in 2nd and 3rd positions on the grid respectively.