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Toyota makes grand comeback to motorsports in Malaysia with Vios Challenge

SEPANG, April 4 — Today marks the return of UMW Toyota Motor to motorsports after an absence of 26 years, the last appearance being in the 1991 Rally of Malaysia with the Celica Turbos.

This time, it will be the Vios Challenge, a one-make race using the Toyota Vios, under the auspices of Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR), the official motor sports arm of Toyota. Toyota Gazoo Racing has successfully campaigned in the World Rally Championships (WRC), where it scored its maiden win in Sweden and has consistently chalked up points throughout the WRC season.

The Vios Challenge will see a field of 30 cars in identical race-prepared Toyota Vios cars fitted with manual transmissions. The race is open to all participants, and there will be a championship series covering four events for 2017 over specially-created street circuits in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Johor. There will be two rounds held in Kuala Lumpur. The first event is scheduled to be held in August this year and the season will stretch through to the first quarter of 2018.

According the a spokesman for the event, all the Vios Challenge cars will have identical specifications to make it an even playing field — however, there are some ‘standard’ modifications on all cars. These include a TRD aerodynamic kit (to make the cars more sporty-looking), a TRD exhaust system (a combination of go-faster and make more sporty noise), TRD Clutch (for reliability and endurance), TRD LSD (short for Limited Slip differential) for better grip around corners, TRD Suspension (for better handling), TRD Brake Pads (For durability and improved stopping power), TRD Tower Bar, Brace Bars and Rollcage (for better handling, and safety), Enkei Rims and Toyo Tyres.

We are also made to understand that the top five winners of each round will have to carry ballast, up to a maximum of 60 kg. All engines and air intake boxes are ‘sealed’ throughout pre and post-race. The engines are stock standard for all cars, and would-be racers can buy the race cars fully prepared for RM90,000 per unit. This price includes six race driving training sessions for novice drivers, and a FIA-approved racing suit. At the moment, we are still unclear about what happens if an engine needs rebuilding — we understand that it has to be under the supervision of Toyota Gazoo Racing representatives.

To add colour to the event, UMW Toyota also announced the participation of eight A-list local celebrities who will be making their racing debuts in the series — they will be given a special (not crash) course in race driving, and it will be interesting to see how these four young men and four young women fare against the rest of the field.

The Vios Challenge in Malaysia is modelled along the lines of the Toyota One Make Race in Thailand and in the Philippines. Fans can come in to the venues on race weekends to catch the excitement, which includes an auto-carnival with activities for the family.

Speaking at the launch of the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Racing Festival held at the Sepang International Circuit today, President of UMW Toyota Motor Ravindran Kurusamy said that the Vios Challenge provides the ideal platform to elevate the sporty image of the Toyota Vios as well as create fresh interest in the sport. “The sporty, fun and vibrant character of the Toyota Vios has been understated at times and in line with our ‘All About The Drive’ campaign, we believe that the Vios Challenge will be able to effectively help us demonstrate these characteristics especially to younger Malaysians.”