SHAH ALAM: Fresh from the finale of Season 4 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and Vios Challenge race series, Gazoo Racing Malaysia will mount an assault on the Sepang 1000KM Endurance Race (S1K) with a two-car entry in the MTC Production Class and SP2 production class this weekend.
The prestigious annual race will also see the running of the inaugural Vios Enduro Cup for privateers and dealer teams competing in the SP2 Production Class.
Fighting for outright victory in the MTC Production class will be the trio of three-time Vios Challenge Super Sporting Class champion and also Gazoo Racing Malaysia Ambassador Tengku Djan Ley, newly-minted Vios Challenge Rookie Class champion 20-year-old Naquib Azlan and Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s Chief Motorsports Officer Akio Takeyama.
The S1K race will be the first for Naquib who up until last year, had only been racing online behind the wheel of a simulator.
He was one of six divers recruited into the Gazoo Racing Young Talent Development Program and later provided with the opportunity to compete in the Rookie Class for young drivers.
The SP2 Production Class meanwhile, will see the combination of Vios Challenge Rookie Class drivers Mika Hakimi and Jwan Hii partnering Promotional Class driver, actor and Season 4’s first runner-up Zizan Razak.
Zizan proved to be a worthy contender in this year’s Vios Challenge Promotional Class races clinching podium finishes in all races.
Being the most experienced racer amongst the SP2 Production Class team, Zizan is expected to bring his A-game and winning attitude as well as flair into the race.
Mika and Jwan finished had third and fourth overall respectively in the recently concluded Vios Challenge, and will also be making their debut in the S1K.
Like Naquib, both drivers are also graduates of the Gazoo Racing Young Talent Development Program with 17-year-old Mika too hailing from a background of simulator racing while 18-year-old Jwan’s racing experience had previously raced karts.
“The two entries in S1K are to fulfill several objectives if you look closely at the driver line-up. Yes, we will be gunning for both outright and class victories, it is also the start of expanding Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s presence in Malaysian motorsports, but the participation is also to provide a platform for new, talented and especially young drivers to race in an even more competitive environment beyond the Vios Challenge,” said Takeyama.
The Vios Enduro Cup meanwhile, will run concurrently with the S1K and is designed to bring the Vios Challenge race cars and its drivers beyond their traditional hunting grounds.
The Cup will offer a first prize of RM10,000, while the second and third place winners stand to win RM8,000 and RM6,000 respectively.
A cash prize of RM4,000 and RM2,000 is also up for grabs for the fourth and fifth place finishers in the race.
The 1000km race is expected to take nine hours covering 181 laps of the Sepang International Circuit.
Takeyama said joining a prestigious national series event like the S1K is the start of growing Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s presence in Malaysian motorsports.
“Up until now, our attention has been devoted to developing and strengthening the Vios Challenge one-make racing series which has just recently concluded its fourth successful season.
“This will be a great way of completing this year’s racing calendar which has been extremely challenging as a result of the global pandemic.
“Of course, winning the event will certainly be the icing on the cake! We will be going for the overall victory but considering this will only be our second outing in S1K, we will be equally happy to finish competitively at the top.” said Takeyama.
Also making its debut in the MTC Production Class of this year’s S1K will be a brand-new Toyota Yaris driven by Season 3’s Vios Challenge Sporting Class champion and 16-year-old Hayden Haikal who will partner another young and talented driver Timothy Yeo, representing Wing Hin Motorsports, a Toyota dealer.
They will be joined in the MTC Production Class by Season 2’s Vios Challenge Super Sporting Class champion Boy Wong and Vios Challenge Sporting Class driver Dannies Ng in a Vios.
The pair had finished third overall in S1K in 2019.
In 11 years that the race has been held since 2009 to 2019, Toyota has won the race twice with private entries behind the wheel of an AE86 in 2010 and a Corolla Altis in 2011.
For details, log on to www.toyota.com.my.