The Vios Challenge, as part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) festival entered its second round at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), Serdang, holding the promise of exciting racing. As it turned out, excitement was indeed the order of the race weekend, with the latter part of Day Two adding even more spice to the day’s proceedings with rain.

Starting off Day Two was Race One for the 11-strong Super Sporting Class grid with spills even before the first corner. Polesitter Mark Darwin lost control of his #25 Vios when he was tapped from behind by rival Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel, sending Darwin into the right-hand side wall before bouncing across the track width at the entry to Turn One, incapacitating his car and resulting in a red flag and a restart.

Two cars down to nine, the race was restarted for the remaining 14 laps of the 1,990 metre-long MAEPS circuit, and the next racing incident followed soon after. Crowd favourite and P2 qualifier Tengku Djan received rear-end contact from William Ho’s #39 Vios, which led to Djan running some race distance with his #12 Vios’ rear bumper dangling as he opened up and maintained a comfortable race lead. Ho’s race car didn’t escape entirely unscathed either, with a dangling side skirt from impact with the #11 Vios of Mitchell Cheah which required a pit stop.

Alas, the race order was not to stand, as Djan was forced to pit and have the errant body panel removed, dropping him down the order and eventually finishing fifth. Race 1 of the Super Sporting Class was won by Ser Min Hui in the #33 Vios of MMCS Sport Racing Team, with Syafiq Ali (#7) of M7 Racing Team and Wong Yew Choong (#21) of ST Wangan Racing Team rounding up the podium. Keifli bin Othman of Lazer Motor Racing was excluded from the eventual Race 1 results for a red flag violation.

Next up was Race Two of the Promotional Class, comprised of local celebrities and performing artists including Janna Nick, Syukri Yahaya, Diana Danielle, Fattah Amin, and Danny Koo among others, as well as UMW Toyota Motor deputy chairman Akio Takeyama. Promotional Class favourite, beatboxer Shawn Lee entered Race Two from a string of wins including the last round at Batu Kawan, and consequently with additional success ballast.

Lee’s past form could not continue uninterrupted however, as he made what many considered an uncharacteristic mistake on the quick Turn 6, spinning and rejoining at the tail end of the pack. This opened up opportunities for the others, with Shukri Yahaya capitalising for the eventual race win, joined by Danny Koo and Diana Danielle on the podium for second and third places, respectively.

The third-place finish also marked the first podium result for a female competitor in the Promotional Class, which was a satisfying one for Diana who finished previous races with scores of fourth-place finishes. Luck didn’t side with the rest of the ladies in the Promotional Class this time around, however, as Janna Nick, Venice Min and Geraldine Gan had to retire from Race Two due to mechanical issues.

Race Two for the Sporting Class followed, with Brendan Paul expected to win this time with his #22 Dream Chaser Vios. The Sporting Class also saw the largest entry of competitors at 19, which made for compelling viewing. Paul, Brandon Lim and Patrick Tam put on their best in a tightly contested race for first, right from the point the green lights went out.

Tam kept the pressure on Lim right from the opening stages, and made his move on Lap 4 diving on the inside of Lim at Turn 16, going hammer-and-tongs from this point all the way to the chequered flag. More interest surfaced further down the field, as Geraldine Read, Adzeem Eqwan, Tan Seng Lock and Tan Su Teik battled it out. Read came off less than best in the melee, dropping out of the battling pack and having to yield to the race leader.

Read yielded to the leading duo of Tam and Lim, though in her compliance to the blue flag Read deviated into Lim’s path, putting a damper to his momentum and the gap to Tam grew wider. Eventually, Tam emerged victorious after 16 laps driven in 23 minutes and 49 seconds, while Lim and Paul rounded up the podium finish in second and third places respectively.

Last but not least, and certainly eagerly anticipated was Race 2 of the Super Sporting Class, though the aforementioned downpour of rain put a temporary halt to proceedings. The Toyota Camry safety car emerged and circulated the course briefly, and eventually even the safety car pulled in as the rain showed no sign of easing back; the rain was in fact getting heavier.

Even so, the spectators at MAEPS braved the monsoon weather and remained steadfast at the grandstands, eager to catch the finale. Race Two for the Super Sporting class saw the top six finishers of Race One start the finale in reverse order, with Race One winner Ser Min Hui starting from the back of the pack. With his fifth-place finish in Race 1, Tengku Djan once again started from the front row alongside Mitchell Cheah who finished sixth.

Given the rain-soaked track surface, the pack followed the safety car in convoy for the first three laps before starting the race in earnest. Djan hit the rolling start in his #12 Team Nanoplus car with guns blazing, keeping the pressure on Cheah lap after lap. A tap by the Prince of Drift sent Cheah’s #11 Vios running wide, though the Dream Chaser driver managed to gather it up and not cede position to Djan’s relentless pursuit. As the battle for the lead raged on, William Ho in his #39 Vios crept up from seventh, and caught up with the leading duo.

Ho found his chance in Turn 16 on lap 12, thought Djan held position. The pair traded paint for some distance, resulting both cars sustaining a puncture each. Djan’s was more dire than Ho’s, having to retire his #12 Vios mid-race, though Ho’s #39 car sustained a slow puncture which held up long enough for him to finish the race. Ho picked up a 15-second penalty for the overtaking incident with Djan, but still managed to limp to the chequered flag for a third-place finish.

“It was quite a stressful first few laps with Djan behind me. All I had on my mind was to enter the corner slow and come out faster to stay ahead of Djan,” said Cheah who emerged victorious at the rain-soaked Race Two for the Super Sporting class.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival made a good shot of living up to its name, with car demonstrations, dance routines, a gathering of car clubs and stunt shows. There was even a pair of drift-spec Toyota 86s offering up a tyre smoke-laced display of balletic car control, courtesy of professional drift competitors Masato Kawabata and Hideyuki Fujino.

And thus concluded the TGR Racing Festival for 2017, capped by the Vios Challenge which stuck true to the ‘rubbing is racing’ adage. Though marking the conclusion of its festivals this year, next year will see the addition of Johor Bahru to the roster, set to host the TGR Racing Festival on January 19 and 20. Stay tuned for more racing action in 2018!

GALLERY: Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival, November 2017 at MAEPS – official images