Inaugural Toyota Vios Challenge ready to rock Penang

  The inaugural Toyota Vios Challenge is all set to roar as the series hits the Island State of Penang on 12 – 13 August. The local one-make series is initiated by UMW Toyota with the support of appointed partners, namely official tyre supplier, TOYO Tires.

Aspirational domestic drivers confirmed for the series are eager to run at the first Vios challenge race. The nominated drivers are Keifli Othman, Boy Wong, Kenny Lee, James Veerapan, Syafiq Ali, Mark Darwin, Mitchel Cheah, Rocky Seow, Akina Teo and Tengku Djan Ley. These experienced drivers will be gunning for top honors in the very first Vios one-make race. They have all performed the required shakedown at the Sepang Circuit, most recently. “It is going to be a very close race,” said Keifli Othman, a veteran of saloon and open wheel racing and an early favourite in the Vios Challenge. “The Vios is very responsive and easy to handle so newcomers and seasoned racers will have a lot of fun driving this car in the race,” said Keifli.

According to another early race favorite Boy Wong who will be racing under Team ST Wangan’s banner, “The nature of a one-make race negates the need for any racing strategy. This is going to be a pure pedal-to-metal race from lights to flag. You won’t have any opportunity to think of strategies in the race. Everyone will be jostling to get ahead of the pack so you either keep up or defend.”

While some drivers may think that bulldozing their way in the race may be the only way to get ahead, owner of Dream Chaser Team CY Ong who is fielding three cars in the Vios Challenge feels that a disciplined driver will be needed to perform well in a race of this nature. “Having driven the Vios, I believe that this car will reward the gentle and smooth driver. If you’re too aggressive, you may lose too much momentum and actually fall behind. The way to drive it is by being smooth through the corners. I think that the driver who realizes this quickly will do very well.”

As all the race cars are identical, it will not be possible for any driver to rely on mechanical advantage to develop a significant lead or to pull away from the pack. This fact was clearly demonstrated during the shakedown when some of the top racers clocked lap times within a second’s difference of each other. The 40 units of Vios Challenge racing cars have been built to identical specification using racing parts sourced mainly from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) including its exhaust system, suspension and most of the aerodynamic kits. The rims, tyres and fuel are controlled items supplied by the organizers during the race which further restricts the variables that drivers can exploit.

The drivers agree that the qualifying session in the Vios Challenge will be crucial as there would be limited opportunities to pass other cars on the street circuit if you qualify way behind. The consensus of the drivers too was that the race would be one of the most exciting in recent memory.

The Vios Challenge will be the headlining event at the Toyota Racing Racing Festival that kicks off with the first event on 12 – 13 August at the Batu Kawan Stadium in Penang. The Festival will host a myriad of activities including drift shows, celebrity performances, food trucks, test drives, and a showcase of the upcoming Toyota C-HR. Entrance to the event is free.