With an encouraging resurgence in motorsports, Toyota Gazoo Racing has announced its arrival in Malaysia with the launch of the Vios Challenge one-make race series at the Sepang International Circuit today.

The Vios Challenge will be the feature event at the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Racing Festival, a weekend-long carnival set to take place in Penang, Johor and twice in Kuala Lumpur.

Each of the four events of the race series will take place at specially prepared street circuits in the aforementioned locations. The Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) along with consultants from Toyota will ensure the circuits are safe yet exciting for spectators, and all regulations are inscribed according to FIA rules.

A total of 30 drivers will compete in the race series, all in identical, race-prepared Vios sedans, for a chance to take home a trophy and other prizes. The field will also include eight local A-list celebrities – Danny Koo, Geraldine Gan, Venice Min, Shawn Lee, Diana Danielle, Shukri Yahaya, Fattah Amin and Janna Nick – to inject some glamour and excitement into the event.

Race number one is scheduled to be held in August this year (location to be revealed later), and the series will continue on through to the first quarter of 2018 for the remaining three races.

As for the race car itself, it is based on a Vios 1.5J MT but with a number of modifications to make it track ready. TRD-sourced parts include an aerodynamic kit, exhaust system, clutch and limited-slip differential (LSD), suspension system, brake pads, tower bar and lower brace bars, and a full roll cage.

Other additions include 15-inch Enkei rims shod with Toyo Proxes tyres (195/50), a Motec C125 racing display, a fire suppression system, OMP Corsica Superleggero steering wheel, OMP First-R racing seat and tow hooks (front and back). All cars are prepared by Wing Hin Motorsports here in Malaysia.

According to Toyota, the Vios Challenge car produces 10% more power compared to the standard car although exact numbers weren’t given. The 2NR-FE four-cylinder unit makes 107 PS at 6,000 rpm and 140 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm in the regular Vios 1.5J MT.

It may not sound like substantial gain but Toyota says this is to ensure the dynamics of the Vios isn’t heavily altered. Adding more power would require other areas of the car to be upgraded (a never-ending process), which ruins the race series’ formula of a car that is fun to drive and provides good spectator value.

Interested? Well, Toyota is currently accepting orders for the Vios Challenge car from privateer and racing teams looking to be a part of the race series. The non-street legal car will cost RM90,000 but will include all the parts, engineering and testing required. Buyers will also receive one set of FIA-approved racing suit and six sessions of racing school training for novice drivers (starting in May).

Those who want to participate in the race series will only need a national racing licence issued by the AAM, and of course, to purchase a Vios Challenge race car. Unfortunately, current Vios owners will not be allowed to modify their road-going cars into race cars for this competition.

Toyota explains doing so is not in the spirit of the Vios Challenge as the car could be different from the rest that have been prepared officially. Additionally, the idea of the race series is to have racers showcase their skills rather than relying on mechanical advantage – bringing motor racing back to its purest form.

The sporty, fun and vibrant character of the Toyota Vios has been understated at times and in line with our ‘All About The Drive’ campaign, we believe the Vios Challenge will be able to effectively helps us demonstrate these characteristics especially to younger Malaysians,” said Ravindran Kurusamy, president of UMW Toyota Motor.