Several whacks are heard just before a strong cloud of dust and burnt rubber rushes at my face. I can barely keep my phone gimbal upright as small pebbles pelt my glasses.
The whacks are heard because protector covers beneath the engine are bottoming out on the bumpy street circuit, just moments before drivers stomp the brakes and turn into the fast right corner of Turn 1. The circuit is tight, just two ordinary lanes, which would otherwise simply be an access road for parking at the Penang State Stadium, now sets the scene for one of the most nail-biting corners of the race.
With anywhere between 8-20 specially prepared Toyota Vios Challenge racecars jostling for position and muscling for the inner line, Turn 1 offers equal amount spectacle and excitement, as it does danger and agony. Moreover, I’m about as close to the action as one can get, literally just a reinforced concrete barrier and fence between me and all the cars.
The Toyota Vios Challenge offers one of the purest forms of motorsport. Where the cars are all the same, so winning or losing really comes down to driver talent, car setup, and team strategy. Of course, that also makes for some superb stints of bumper-to-bumper drama and old-fashioned tin-top racing.
Three classes run two races over two days – Super Sporting Class, Sporting Class, and the Promotional Class. Super Sporting Class features well-known professional drivers such as Tengku Djan, Mark Darvin, and Brendan Anthony. The Sporting Class on the other hand features up-and-comers such as Hayden Haikal, Kenneth Koh, and even some privateer teams who just want to get in a car and go racing.
The Promotional Classes need little explanation as it is one of the highlights of the Festival – where popular local celebrities such as Shukri Yahaya, Janna Nick, Nabila Razali, Nabil Ahmad, and Diana Danielle to name a few, duke it out on track for top honours and bragging rights. Moreover, if you think they’re just out there for fun… think again! In race 1 on Saturday, the top three drivers were separated by just 1.3 seconds at the finish line.
For the 16,000 fans in Penang who thronged the festival over the two days, the excitement of the TGR Festival included the display and test drive of Toyota’s fleet of new vehicles, a drift performance by Japanese drifters courtesy of Toyo Tires, a racing simulator challenge, stage games, celebrity performances, promotional activities, lucky draws, the sale of merchandises, and a Super Fans Signing Session for a chance to mingle with the celebrities racing in the Promotional class.
Other attractions included a racing simulator challenge, stage games, celebrity performances, promotional activities, lucky draws, the sale of merchandise, and a Super Fans Signing Session for a chance to mingle with the celebrities racing in the Promotional class.
There was also a fleet of motorcycles and merchandise on display and sale by Harley Davidson and Moto Guzzi, a bey blade competition, the sale of Hot Wheels die cast models, and a display by the Art of Speed.
Meanwhile, as an added bonus, all vehicles purchased during the event are offered with an RM200 complimentary service voucher.
Don’t miss the last chance to get up close and personal with the celebrities, drivers, and of course, close-fought racing when Toyota Gazoo Racing festival makes its final stop at the Sepang International Circuit, from 17-19th April 2020.