Technology Park Malaysia, Bukit Jalil, 25 March 2018 – The finale of the inaugural Vios Challenge continued to present nail-biting dramas as all three classes gave the crowds who numbered some 20,000 over the weekend lots of excitement.
The Sporting Class kicked the racing activities off at 1pm with young Brendan Paul Anthony from Dream Chaser team and Brendon Lim of Tedco Racing on the front row followed by Team Nanoplus’s Patrick Tam on the second row beside Clement Yeo who was fourth on the grid.
At the lights, Brendan Paul made a fantastic start with his namesake in tow. Kenneth Koh also made a brilliant start and was now chasing down Tam in 4th. By Lap 2, the front row runners were building a healthy gap from the pack while Kenneth Koh furiously tried to attack Patrick Tam for precious third place. As the race entered lap 3, Brendan Paul and Brendon Lim were fiercely battling it out in front.
In Lim’s efforts take the lead, he had a date with the outside wall of Turn 3, causing him to drop his pace but was given a temporary reprieve from the chasing pack when the safety car was deployed following Shanmuganathan’s crash in Turn 4. After the circuit was cleared and safety car returned to the pits, the race immediately resumed with only 5 minutes left on the clock. This meant that the Sporting Class drivers had less than three laps to make any impact. As the race continued, it was Brendon Lim that was seen being the fiercest contender in class despite sustaining his earlier damage as he relentlessly attacked Brendan Paul for gold with only 0.4 seconds gap between them.
But the younger Brendan kept his head and sealed his first place win in Race 1 with Brendon Lim in 2nd and Patrick Tam in 3rd. This meant that the points standings were reversed favouring Brendan who took the lead by just one point.
Resuming from Race 1 in their identical finishing positions, Brendan Paul remained in Pole with Brendon Lim and Patrick Tam in 2nd and 3rd respectively. However, the pole sitter who was trying to balance the clutch biting point was caught off guard when the lights went out allowing Lim to win the drag to Turn 1. Kenneth Koh appeared secure in third position and opened the gap to the rear by 2 seconds on Lap 2.
On the same lap, Brendan Paul needed no invitation when Brendon Lim opened the door at the last corner and he made a brave dive on the inside going into the right hander. The pair exchanged paintwork but it was deemed clean enough by the stewards to allow the pass. The clear road ahead allowed Brendan Paul to extend the gap between the now second place Brendon Lim by 1.6 seconds
The action was then left to the mid pack with Wong Chin Eeg gaining on Dato Ken Foo who was defending 6th place. However, Foo was not to hold on for long as Wong made a clean dive on the inside of turn 4. Foo quickly regained his composure to retake Wong Chin Eeg on the following straight.
However, the race stewards subsequently deemed Dato Ken Foo’s prior multiple blocking move on Wong Chin Eeg as unsporting and was given a warning. To further add to his woes, his position continued to drop and even allowed Ricky Tan to advance and snatched Dato Ken Foo’s 8th place
The excellent wins gave Brendan Anthony the deserved championship title despite missing the opening leg in Penang. This young man has a very bright future ahead of him in the racing field.
The Promotional Class may have been aimed at celebrity racers but the quality of racing did not suggest that the nine racers were not seasoned veterans. The racers received their share of oohs and ahhs from the spectators in all the venues. For instance, so quick was Shukri Yahya’s pole position time that he would have been on the second row of the Sporting Class had he been racing in that category.
Joining him on the front row was Shawn Lee who undoubtedly had the most wins in the series but was not second best beside Shukri. As the lights changed, there was no stopping Shukri and Shawn as the duo charged away from the pack with Diana Danielle in tow joining the boys in front. She even successfully opened a gap to Danny Khoo who was in fourth. As the race entered lap 3, the gap between the leading duo and the rest of the pack opened to 5 seconds.
Lap 5 saw an even greater performance by Shukri as the gap opened up to 1.4 seconds between him and Shawn Lee. While everything looked comfortable heading to the finish of the race, Shawn found his second wind and on Lap 8, he caught and passed Shukri on the inside of the final corner and earned himself another win.
Diana Danielle took the final place on the podium and credited the excellent finish to the support and love of her entire family who had come out to cheer her on in this final event.
As Shawn Lee now sat on pole, he was expected to break away and take another easy win but Shukri Yahya made a great pass on Shawn on the opening lap in turn 2 while Fattah Amin made a move on Diana Daniel to rob the female celebrity of her 3rd place at Turn 3.
Fattah Amin drove with amazing pace and made grounds on the beatboxer to snatch 2nd place a lap later. Shawn was having a bit of trouble shifting gears and Diana seized the opportunity to pass him, forcing him into 4th place. The race ended without further incident with Shukri Yahya taking the chequered flag with Fattah Amin in second and female star driver Diana Danielle in Third place.
The Super Sporting Class was the race the watch as the top drivers of the Vios Challenge were expected to race hard for pride, podium and prize, considering that the championship winner would win a Toyota Vios, cash and bragging rights as the first Vios Challenge winner.
Championship leader Tengku Djan was able to start from his qualifying position of 7th on the grid after rebuilding his engine but his main rival William Ho was to start in pole with Kenny Lee in 2nd followed by Boy Wong in 3rd and Ser Ming Hui in 4th place.
Ser Ming Hui managed a superb start and was on a mission, chasing Boy Wong down relentlessly on the opening laps. On Lap 7, he took his chance in Turn 3 to dive inside the ST Wangan driver but could not get pass.
Tengku Djan seemed to have lost some pace as his gap between him and Mark Darwin who was in 4th grew by 1.5 seconds in lap 11. It was later found that he had suffered a power loss from the engine repair the night before Battle for Boy Wong’s 3rd place continued till the final lap when at turn 3, Ser dived on the inside of the right hander for a gap that was hardly there.
The race stewards were not amused and imposed a penalty on him for the contact thus he was docked the position and finished in 4th. William eventually won the race and was now leading Djan in the final standings.
However with Djan finishing in 6th position and the grid reversed for Race 2, it was an interesting prospect as it meant that Djan needed to win while William had to finish no lower than 3rd to secure the title. The start saw Tengku Djan and Mark Darwin make a perfect start as the lights went off, but Ser Ming Hui was not making things easy and made contact with William Ho going into Turn 1.
William Ho relentlessly attacked the rear of Ming Hui throughout lap 2 and as the chase progressed, the crowds gasped when William pushed Ming Hui into a spin on the back straight. Keifli othman was extra passionate this time around as he gave Kenny Lee strong pressure by lap 5. Tengku Djan, despite his earlier engine issue found his pace and opened a gap of over 5 seconds on lap 8 over Mark Darwin to comfortably lead the race. However that was all the Prince of Drift could do as he could only hope for troubles by William who was running out of his view. As Tengku Djan took the chequered flag with Mark Darwin in second and William Ho in third place, it was thought to be the final results.
However, the results didn’t stand as the race stewards later deemed William Ho’s continuous contact with Ser Ming Hui unsporting and was docked two positions in the results. This ultimately cost him the championship in the Super Sporting Class as Tengku Djan was crowned the overall winner.
It was a thrilling end to a thrilling season of excellent motor racing in the inaugural Vios Challenge. The quality of racing and the intensity of racing on street circuits was something Malaysians had not experienced in a very long time. With the prospect of new challenges in the next season, the Vios Challenge will once again be the race to watch.