New Straits Times
THRILLS AT FORMER AIRPORT
Sporting Class’ three-way battle takes limelight
ROUND 2 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge ended on a high note with more than 10,000 spectators attending the two-day race at Bandar Malaysia over the weekend.
It was the first time a saloon car race in Malaysia was organised at an airport, formerly known as the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Sungai Besi. And the action on the high-speed 1.96km track did not disappoint with exciting close racing action from start to finish in all three classes of racing.
The best action of the day came in the form of a three-way battle for the win in the Sporting Class which saw SMS Motorsports’ Sutan Mustaffa Salihin clinching victory ahead of 17-year-old Bradley Benedict Anthony of Dream Chaser and Dannies Ng in third position.
Sutan led the race from pole position but was forced to work hard as he came under tremendous pressure to defend his lead from a charging Bradley who could not find a way around the leader throughout the 20-lap race. Distracted by the leader, Bradley lost track position to Dannies momentarily before regaining it two laps later when the latter missed a gear.
“It was a tough 20-lap with Bradley and Dannies behind, forcing me to be on my feet throughout the 20 laps. I had to be super careful at every corner, trying to visualize what to do next in order to avoid making any mistakes that could have cost me the race victory. Their fight for second position did give me some much needed breathing space but it wasn’t enough to have a comfortable gap ahead,” said the 47-year-old Sutan competing in his first season of street racing in the Toyota Vios Challenge.
Like Sutan, Bradley was elated as he clinched his first ever podium finish after transitioning from karting to saloon car racing this year.
“I am quite satisfied with today’s result. It was a close fight but all three of us finished a clean race,” he said.
In the Super Sporting Class for the professionals, Kegani Racing’s Kenny Lee drove to a textbook finish from pole position to deny 23 Motors’ Tengku Djan Ley of a double race victory, with Laser Motor Racing’s Mark Darwin finishing third.
Kenny made a brilliant start to lead into the first corner with M7 Japan Project Team’s Syafiq Ali in close pursuit. But it was Tengku Djan who gained the most, managing to slingshot himself all the way to third position from sixth on the grid. The race however, was held back under safety car conditions as early as the third corner involving a collision between Toyotsu Racing’s William Ho and Telagamas Toyota’s Freddie Ang.
As expected, the Promotional class for celebrity racers was not without its fair share of drama. TV presenter and comedian Nabil Ahmad catapulted from fourth on the grid to lead the race right to the chequered flag, with singers Khai Bahar and Nabila Razali trailing in second and third positions respectively.
En route to earning his second podium finish this race weekend, Nabil said: “I’ve won races in the past, but this is the best first placing I’ve ever recorded because it was earned in the presence of Shawn Lee and Shukri Yahaya.”
UMW Toyota Motor’s Chief Motorsports Officer Akio Takeyama, who finished fifth, said the track at Bandar Malaysia was extremely fast but a rewarding experience for all drivers competing in the series.
“The decision to hold round 2 at Bandar Malaysia proved to be a rewarding experience, not only for the racers who enjoyed competing on a high speed and wider street track for the very first time, but also for Kuala Lumpur spectators due to its strategic location,” said Takeyama.