The faster and wider circuit, together with the unpredictable weather in Medini City meant that opening day of the Toyota GAZOO Racing (TGR) Racing Festival was filled with thrills and excitement with plenty of action in all three classes of the Vios Challenge.
The 7-turn 1.9km circuit run in an anti-clockwise direction featured widths of up to three lanes in many sections of the track, giving the drivers lots of room to build up their speed and to make passing moves.
Shawn Lee continue to dominate his field, clocking in the fastest lap in qualifying to start pole position, with Shukri Yahaya alongside him.
A great start from Diana Danielle meant she could build the speed into turn 3, overtaking Danny Koo for third. Rain began to fall in some parts of the circuit and this made the corners unpredictable. Fighting to regain his third position, Danny brake a little too late going into the hairpin, contact Diana and causing her to spin out, where she later retire from the race.
It was a race to remember for Geraldine Gan, a poor start meant she completed the first lap in ninth, but after a solid drive, avoiding mishaps landed her with her best finish of fourth.
Meanwhile, Janna Nick was in great form and she passed Fattah to claim third, her highest position so far. Unbeknownst to them, Danny Koo who was ahead was slapped with a drive through penalty for his incident with Diana but as he missed the window to pull in for the penalty, he would be excluded from the race results.
This left Janna to fight for her first podium opportunity but with the rain getting heavier in some parts of the track, Janna made a mistake 2 laps from the finish, touching a wall and causing a slow puncture. Fattah then took a popular podium finish with Shukri and Shawn on the top steps.
Starting from pole position, Brendan Anthony tried covering the inside line but Patrick Tam made a great start from the fourth row to charge for the inside line. However, under hard braking for Turn 1 Patrick went deep, tapping Brendan and pushing him into the outside wall. In the melee, Dato Ken Foo who came in on the blind side sent Patrick into the inside wall, bringing out the red flag.
The cars then formed the grid for a re-start sans Patrick and Clement whose car suffered damage and had to call to the pits. Brendan tried to cover the inside line on the re-start but feeling that his car was not tracking straight after the incident, he hit the brakes early, allowing Wong Chin Eeg to take the lead.
A flawless performance by Chin Eeg, who works as a Service Manager for Toyota’s Heiwa Auto Gallery in Tebrau Johor took the chequered flag and his maiden win, ahead of Brendan Anthony, who displayed a very combative drive from sixth at one stage, and Kenneth Koh in third.
Super Sporting Class
The premier Super Sporting class promised to be explosive and it certainly lived up to its billing.
While the pack made it through Turn 1 safely, Tengku Djan who started in Row 2 in his Team Nanoplus car tangled with Kenny Lee in the fast Turn 2. Djan went sideways and speared Akina Teo’s Vios, sending his car into the barrier, blocking off the circuit. Mark was another victim of the crash and he once again retired from the race.
The safety car was immediately deployed but as the skies opened up with a torrential downpour, the field was bunched behind the safety car for 11 laps before the race director deemed the conditions safe for racing.
On lap 12, the field was allowed to go racing but with rain continuing to fall, the drivers took minimal risk and everyone maintained their positions to fight another day. With the 30-minute race duration run, the chequered flag appeared on Lap 16 with William Ho winning the race with Boy Wong and Syafiq Ali rounding up the podium.
A reverse grid of the top six for Race 2 means that the excitement continues with Keifli Othman starting from Pole position with Tengku Djan beside him. With the weather expected to be hot and sunny on Saturday, the quality of racing is expected to yield even greater excitement.
Fans and visitors braced the mid afternoon heat and sudden showers to show their support for their favourite TGR celebrity drivers as well as entertainment from Media Prima’s Drama Sangat bus tour as well as appearances from Ejen Ali and Comot.
Drift Samurai Takahiro Imamura also gave the crowd a good show and fist bumps, all in his Samurai outfit complete with a sword!
There are still three more races to go tomorrow, entrance to the TGR Racing Festival is free and activities begin from 10am daily stretching till 6:30pm.