FORMER champions Shawn Lee and Tengku Djan Ley produced the best of comebacks in the opening round of Season 3 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu yesterday.
After spending Season 2 of the race series competing amongst a competitive pool of amateur drivers in the Sporting class, Shawn and actor Shukri Yahaya were clearly the dominant two on the track in the Promotional class race for celebrities.
Tengku Djan concluded his comeback race with a second place finish in the Super Sporting class for professionals. He was champion of the Super Sporting class in Season 1.
Held on specially-constructed 1.65km street circuit, the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge is Malaysia’s premier street racing series.
Shawn and Shukri underlined a strong comeback into the Promotional category by winning Race 1 and finishing second respectively in the 20-lap race.
“It was an exciting race right up to the end because Shukri managed to bridge the gap and that got me a little concerned on whether he was close enough to attempt to overtake,” said Shawn.
Despite setting the fastest time in qualifying, actor Shukri failed to make the most of his pole position after losing track position to Shawn into the first corner.
“I made a mistake in the first corner and from then on it was trying to keep up with Shawn Lee. The lead grew to about 4 seconds at one stage but in the closing stages I managed to close the gap to about a second but I wasn’t going to risk trying to pass him since we have a second race to think about,” said Shukri.
In third place was actress and defending Promotional class champion Diana Danielle who was gifted a podium finish despite being some 37 seconds behind when Nabil Ahmad clipped the concrete barrier and retired.
Also retiring from the race was Syafiq Kyle while Khai Bahar, Nabila Razali, Wany Hasrita, Janna Nick and Ain Edruce finished in fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth places respectively.
The elites in the Super Sporting class drove a close but clean race from start to finish with Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin winning the 22-lap race just half a second ahead of 23 Motors’ Tengku Djan Ley. In third place was Tedco Racing’s Bendon Lim.
“I had a good start from pole position and I managed to pull away slightly, enough to be comfortable. My tyres however, were badly worn five laps to the finish and I could see Tengku Djan catching up,” said Mark.
For Tengku Djan, the visit to podium underlines a great start to the season having won Season 1 and taking a break from Season 2.
“The biggest difference this season is that the top 9 cars are all within a second of the fastest qualifying time. Everyone is super competitive this year,” said Tengku Djan.
In the Sporting Class, Panglima City Racing Team’s Kenneth Koh took the chequered flag ahead of Team Distinctive Model’s Clement Yeo and Kulim Topwheels’ Dato’ Ken Foo who finished second and third respectively.
All three drivers made a text book start of the 22-lap race, from first, second and third positions on the grid respectively with only 3 seconds separating them.
The race however, was red-flagged three laps to the finish with Team Fokus Tetap’s Lim Chun Beng becoming Season 3’s first casualty of the street circuit’s reinforced concrete barrier. A brush with the barrier damaged his front right fender which resulted in the tyre delaminating sending his car out of control into the concrete wall.
For motorsports fans and spectators in Kuala Terengganu, the excitement of the TGR Festival is not confined to the action and drama on the track, but includes the display and test drive of Toyota’s fleet of new vehicles, a drift performance by Japanese drifters courtesy of Toyo Tires, a racing simulator challenge, stage games and celebrity performances, promotional activities, lucky draws, the sale of merchandises, and a Superfans Signing Session for a chance to mingle with the celebrities racing in the Promotional class.