The first round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival Season 4, which was supposed to be held on January 28-30 but was postponed due to the movement control order (MCO), is finally going to happen. The new date is March 27-28 at the Sepang International Circuit.
UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) says that the event will conform to strict standard operating procedures (SOPs), operating under a sports bubble amidst the Covid-19 threat. As such, Round 1 of the Vios Challenge will be held as a closed- door event with racing fans invited to what is being billed as the biggest live-streamed racing carnival in Malaysia aired over two days.
The one-make race will have four classes, 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 simulators to saloon car racing for the first time. The others are the Promotional Class, Sporting Class and Super Sporting Class.
Fans will get to watch three qualifying sessions, six individual races, pit lane insights, interviews with racers, a celebrity-studded performance and other content. Those who tune in will also have the opportunity to win 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 UMWT 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,” he added.
In the Promotional Class, actor Shukri Yahaya will lead the star line-up and he will be joined by actress Janna Nick, presenter Nabil Ahmad and singers Wany Hasrita, Nabila Razali and Khai Bahar. The three newcomers are actor Zizan Razak, singer-songwriter Talitha Tan and TV personality Ahirene Ahirudin.
Last season’s Promotional Class champ Shawn Lee is racing in his fourth consecutive season, but this time as a privateer in the Sporting Class for amateur drivers. It will be Lee’s second stint in the competitive class having won the Promotional Class in Season 1, before 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 other notable drivers such as Kenneth Koh, Adam Khalid, Ken Foo, Lim Chun Beng, Tom Goh, Mirza Syahmi and Dannies Ng. The Sporting Class will field a total of 19 drivers.
In the very competitive Super Sporting Class, two-time Vios Challenge champion and newly-appointed Toyota Gazoo Racing Ambassador Tengku Djan Ley returns to defend his title. Last season’s Sporting Class champ and the youngest ever winner of the Vios Challenge, 16 year-old Hayden Haikal, has earned a promotion into the Super Sporting Class. The grid of 11 pro racers includes Season 2 champion Boy Wong, last season’s runner-up Mark Darwin, last season’s second runner-up Freddie Ang, and William Ho, Kenny Lee, Keifli Othman, Syafiq Ali and Brendan Paul Anthony.
Overall, Season 4 of the TGR Festival will feature three racing series’ throughout the year, with 11 races. The season ahead will be anchored by three rounds and six races in the Vios Challenge. For their 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 (two rounds, four races), and the Gazoo Racing Enduro Cup that will be run in conjunction with the annual Sepang 1000km Endurance Race.
All the Round 1 action will be broadcast live on UMWT’s website and Facebook page, as well as on the Toyota Gazoo Racing Malaysia FB page.
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