The Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Festival promised plenty of action as it moved to Medini City in Iskandar Puteri, Johor for the third round this weekend, and yesterday it certainly lived up to that promise. The Vios Challenge race series was a particular highlight, with the challenging track and unpredictable weather leading to thrills and spills all throughout the day.

On-track action kicked off with the Sporting Class, and there was chaos right from the start. Polesitter Brendan Anthony from the Dream Chaser team tried to block off Team Nanoplus’ fast-starting Patrick Tam, but Tam went wide and pushed Anthony towards the outside wall. Tam was then punted by Datuk Ken Foo in the ensuing melee and was sent into the inside wall. This ended Tam’s race and brought out the red flag.

Anthony paid the price of the incident during the restart, as his car was thrown out of alignment, dropping him to sixth place and allowing Hiewa Racing Team’s Wong Chin Eeg, a local Toyota service manager, into the lead. On the same lap, fourth-placed Kenneth Koh from the Panglima City team bumped and bullied his way past Foo at the penultimate hairpin corner.

Over the next few laps, Anthony fought back to take fourth, before the safety car was deployed due to Goh Eng Peng crashing out on lap five. This set up a thrilling battle when racing resumed on lap eight, with Koh passing Tedco Racing’s Brandon Lim into second before Anthony did the same two laps later. While Anthony was soon onto Koh’s tail, Wong was enjoying a comfortable lead up in front.

On the final lap, however, Wong outbraked himself into turn four, enabling the two behind him to close up coming into the hairpin. The trio went out of the corner three-abreast, but it was Wong who emerged victorious in the bout, while Anthony just managed to pip past Koh to secure second place.

The celebrity-packed, rain-soaked Promotional Class was just as eventful. While Shawn Lee and Shukri Yahaya sailed off as usual at the top of the pack, Diana Danielle made a good start and took advantage of Danny Koo’s misshift, taking third coming out of the first corner. Approaching into the hairpin on the second lap, Koo pitched Diana into a spin, causing her to retire from the race.

Koo was slapped with a drive-through penalty as a result, but he missed the window to come into the pits, disqualifying him from the final results. Behind all this, Janna Nick drove strongly, passing Fattah Amin to take third; however, she ran into the barriers two laps from the finish. This resulted in a slow puncture and allowed Fattah to take the final podium position.

The last race featuring the premier Super Sporting class was impacted by heavy downpour, with the bulk of the action happening before the second corner. Championship leader Tengku Djan, who started on the second row for Team Nanoplus, tangled with Kenny Lee and spun, taking out Mudah Racing’s Akina Teo – who was pitched onto two wheels into the barrier – and Dream Chaser’s Mark Darwin.

The safety car was initially deployed as a result of the incident, but the rainstorm that came after meant that it stayed on for 11 laps before race officials decided it was safe again to race. With just six minutes remaining before the 30-minute time limit was up, the rest of the runners took it easy, with William Ho taking the chequered flag ahead of ST Wangan’s Boy Wong and M7 Racing’s Syafiq Ali.

Aside from all the racing going on, visitors were also able to catch Media Prima’s Drama Sangat bus tour celebrities including Nazrief Nazri, Intan Najwa, Adiba Yunos, Aishah Azman, Raja Afiq, Ruhainies, Zie Zainal and Aliff Yasraff. Superhero Ejen Ali and his pet cat Comot were also present for the children.

Car enthusiasts were also catered for with the showing of the recently-updated 2018 Vios and the much-awaited C-HR, as well as a drift show featuring Japanese world champion drifters Masato Kawabata and Takahiro Imamura in a pair of Toyota 86s. Food trucks were at hand to provide refreshments as well.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival continues today with the second round of Vios Challenge races. It is open from 9am to 6:30pm, and admission is free. Visitors will still be able to take part in a lucky draw, with the grand prize being a Vios Sports Edition.

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