SEPANG: Toyota returned to the prestigious Sepang 1000KM endurance race with a vengeance to clinch a historic 1-2 victory in the 9-hour race at Sepang International Circuit.
Three Toyotas finished in the top five overall positions and in the Malaysian Touring Car (MTC) Class in only Toyota’s second year participating in the race.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s #37 Vios with Gazoo Racing Malaysia ambassador Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel and reigning Vios Challenge Sporting Class champion Naquib Azlan won the 181-lap race from pole position to cross the finish line 6.2 seconds ahead of their nearest rival – the #39 Yaris piloted by Hayden Haikal and Jwan Hii for Wing Hin Motorsports which is UMW Toyota Motor’s dealer.
Third place went to the Hi Rev Dream Chaser team’s Mitchell Cheah and Brendan Paul Anthony, while in fourth position was the #38 Wing Hin Motorsports Yaris driven by the pair of Boy Wong and Dannies Ng both cars finishing a lap down.
Rounding up the top five positions and finishing four laps down from the winning Vios was R Engineering HMRT’s Lee Wee Sing and Leon Khoo Beng Koon in the Honda City.
UMW Toyota Motor President Ravindran K said 2021 was all about learning and gaining track time to develop both the Vios and Yaris to take on the prestigious 1000KM challenge.
“We had an extensive programme in place as well as competitive cars, and we went on to win the race but we had to accept a penalty which classified us third in the MTC Class.
“Going on to win the race this year and doing it in the manner where we not only led from start to finish but had three cars in the top five positions overall more than makes up for that setback.
“From its standard production model form competing in five seasons of the Vios Challenge race series to its debut in the Vios Sprint Cup which is a one-hour race and now winning a 9-hour endurance race, the Vios has against all odds firmly established itself as a competitive model on the track,” said Ravindaran.
Ravindran said Toyota’s involvement in Malaysian motorsports has more importantly contributed to helping uncover and groom many new young driving talents.
“It’s about giving back to the community and in our case it means providing potential young Malaysian talent with the right platform and the opportunities to grow as competitive drivers.
“This has been consistent throughout Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s program over the past five years which began with affordable participation in the Vios Challenge, the introduction of a Young Talent Development Programme, and establishing a Rookie Class of racing in the Vios Challenge to promoting young drivers up the motorsports ladder to drive in more competitive machines and classes.
“I also want to thank our partners and sponsors for playing an instrumental part in the company’s racing achievements.”
Starting from pole position the #37 Toyota Vios of Naquib led into the first lap of the race before pacing in third position after the first hour of racing.
A slightly dislodged rear bumper due to contact on the track brought the car into the pit earlier than planned and cost him several minutes in repair.
With team mate Tengku Djan taking over driving duties going into the second hour, the #37 climbed one position to second place posting a lap of time 2 minutes 39.160 almost one second clear of everyone else.
Toyota’s prowess on the track was further demonstrated by having all three of its cars consistently running the race in the top 5 positions.
The second hour of racing onwards was dominated by the pair of Hayden Haikal and Jwan Hii who led the race in the #39 Yaris, while team mates Boy Wong and Dannies Ng in the #38 Yaris rounded up the top three positions.
All four drivers also happen to be regular contenders in the Vios Challenge race series.
With 58 laps to go or after six hours of racing, the pair of Tengku Djan and Naquib swept into the lead with a one lap advantage over Hayden and Hii, while the #38 Yaris of Wong and Ng trailed 58 seconds adrift in fourth position just behind the Hi Rev Dream Chaser’s Mitchell Cheah.
The #38 had been running as high as third where it stayed for more than an hour but with 13 laps to go, Hi Rev Dream Chaser’s Cheah reclaimed that position.
Naquib said he had done many endurance races on simulator but this was the first time he started an endurance race in real life.
“I’m happy to say there weren’t too many butterflies and I managed to calm my nerves.
“It was unfortunate that someone clipped my rear bumper in the first corner and we lost some time after being flagged in to come in for repairs.
“All in all, it was a great race. We wanted to make sure we had a clean race and that everything went according to plan,” said Naquib.
Naquib was one of the Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s pioneer rookie racers in the Vios Challenge, transitioning from simulator racing to saloon car racing.
He was crowned the overall Rookie Class champion in 2021, went on to win this year’s overall Sporting Class championship and will return for Season 6 next year to compete in the Super Sporting Class for elite and professional drivers.
For another young driver, Hayden, who was chasing his first elusive S1K victory, finishing second was still an outstanding result after amassing two third place finishes over the last two years.
“I misjudged the start and fell back to fourth position before catching up with the leaders and trying to maintain a good pace,” said Hayden.
“It’s the same car we drove in last year’s S1K but we’ve had a whole year of familiarising ourselves with the car this time having competed in the Malaysia Championship Series. I wanted to win, I expected nothing less than a top three finish but I’ll take second place after a very close race from start to finish,” he said.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s Standard Production (SP2) Class entry led by Vios Challenge Rookies Nabil Azlan (who is also this year’s Rookie champion), Muizzuddin Musyaffa and Muhammad Hamdany meanwhile, endured a troubled start despite qualifying on pole position.
The trio of young drivers finished 11th in their first ever S1K race.
A total of 77 cars lined up on the grid for the start of 14th edition of the Sepang 1000KM endurance race which was run over 180 laps or nine hours.
The race featured the MTC and SP2 Classes for cars below 1,600cc and the Gazoo Racing Vios Enduro Cup which was a race exclusively for the Toyota Vios cars competing in the Vios Challenge race series,.
In the Gazoo Racing Vios Enduro Cup Class, the father and son team of Al Farouk and Abdul Miqail driving for 23 Motors stormed to victory ahead of team mates Ady Rahimy and Amir Husin Mubarak, while in third was Carroof Motorsport’s quartet of Mirza Syahmi Mahzan, Aiman Haziq and Khair Nur Adi and Khair Nur Adli.
“It was a great race and my second time racing alongside my son in the S1K. To be honest the Vios Challenge has provided Abdul Miqail with a very strong foundation to develop his driving skills,” said Al Farouk.
Victory earned Al Farouk and Abdul Miqail RM10,000 in prize money, while the second and third place finishers bagged RM8,000 and RM6,000 respectively.
The Gazoo Racing Vios Enduro Cup offered a total of RM30,000 in prize monies with the fourth and fifth place winners also taking home RM4,000 and RM2,000 respectively.
A total of 14 cars were vying for honors in this exclusive class.
RESULTS – SEPANG 1000KM ENDURANCE RACE (OVERALL & MTC CLASS)
1. Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia Tengku Djan Ley/Naquib Azlan
2. Wing Hin Motorsports Hayden Haikal/Jwan Hii
3. Hi Rev Dream Chaser Mitchell Cheah/Brendan Paul Anthony
4. Wing Hin Motorsports Boy Wong/Dannies Ng
5. R Engineering HMRT Lee Wee Siong / Leon Khoo Beng Koon
RESULTS – GAZOO RACING VIOS ENDURO CUP
1. 23 Motors Al Farouk/Abdul Miqail
2. 23 Motors Ady Rahimy/Amir Husin Mubarak
3. Carroof Motorsport Mirza Syahmi Mahzan/ Aiman Haziq/ Khair Nur Adi/Khair Nur Adli.
4. Axle Sports Alister Yoong/Mikko Nassi/Rich Pham
5. Race Rally KL Shafiq Samsudin/Ahmad Nadzrie/Shasha/Kelvin Yap
Keyword: Toyota scores big at Sepang 1000KM