This upcoming iteration of S1K will also see the running of the third Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Enduro Cup.
While most people may associate the word Toyota and endurance racing with its recent domination in the World Endurance Championship (WEC), it is actually worth highlighting too that its Malaysian arm has also been pretty successful at this long-distance motorsport business too. That is as Toyota Malaysia has actually won the overall title at the 2022 Sepang 1000 km Endurance Race (S1K), and has actually finished on the podium every time it entered this event in 2021.
And with the 2023 S1K right round the corner again (23rd to 26th Nov), Toyota has unsurprisingly recently announced that it will be throwing its hat into the ring once more, as it seeks to not only defend its overall title from 2022, but also attempt to make it three-for-three with regards to podium finishes this year.
Now much as the saying of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ goes, Toyota GAZOO Racing Malaysia has retained its driver lineup for the 2023 S1K by fielding its sole entry and S1K defending champions Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel and Naquib Azlan behind the wheel of the 2022 winning Toyota Vios in the MTC Class. The Japanese automaker will however also be represented in said class by two Yaris’ fielded by dealer team Wing Hin Motorsports, driven by Boy Wong and former GAZOO Racing Rookie Class driver Amer Harris.
“Both the Vios and Yaris have proven to be strong contenders in what is undoubtedly an extremely grueling race. Over and above the racing achievements, what is more important to us is that it has underlined the respective model’s durability, reliability, and handling in the most challenging of conditions,” said UMW Toyota Motor Sdn. Bhd. President, Datuk Ravindran K.
“S1K will also see the running of the third GAZOO Racing (GR) Vios Enduro Cup within the S1K’s SP2 Class. This event has evolved to become a very popular season finale for drivers already competing in the GR Vios Challenge and GR Vios Sprint Cup. Like previous years, the GR Vios Enduro Cup continues to attract both a pool of experienced and young drivers, and this year’s entry not only include teenage drivers, but also a father and son pair, a team comprising of husband and wife, as well as several lady drivers,” added Datuk Ravindran K.
In the aforementioned SP2 Class and GR Vios Enduro Cup, a total of 11 cars will be competing. Toyota has stated that the contenders to look out for in this particular class includes the Axle Sports pair of Alister Yoong, who will pair up with 2023 Vios Challenge Rookie class champion Ariff Azmi.
A definite favourite will also be 23 Motors’ Abdul Miqail and Amir Mirza, who are both regular contenders in the GR Vios Challenge. Abdul Miqail was the winner of the GR Vios Enduro Cup in 2022 and finished third in 2021. 23 Motors will also be fielding a second car helmed by Daniel Haqeem Azwan.
And just to prove that motorsports can be for everyone, the GR Vios Enduro Cup will see the debut for the father and son team of Arumugam and Ashen Shanmuganathan; a husband and wife pair of Shafiq Samsudin and Shasha Shafie; and two other lady drivers Adele Lew — another GAZOO Racing Rookie Class driver — and Nurul Auni Nasharuddin.
The first place winner in the GR Vios Enduro Cup is in the running for RM10,000 cash, followed by RM8,000 for the second place winner; RM6,000 for the third place winner; RM4,000 (4th placing); and RM2,000 (5th place winner).
“We (Tengku Djan and I) were fifth fastest in qualifying in 2021 but we failed to finish the race. To move on from this disappointment to eventually win the overall race last year was certainly a fantastic result for the team, more so since we also started from pole position and going on to cross the finish line 6.2 seconds ahead our nearest rival. The MTC Class has always been super competitive and we expect it to be no different this year, but with the right package and strategy this year, we hope we can go on to successfully defend the title,” said Naquib.
“Of course we are looking to defend the title – no question about that but it’s about maximizing everything we have, and not coming into this year’s race expecting to win just because we managed to do it last year. To be honest we haven’t been able to do as much testing as we would’ve liked compared to some of our competitors but we’re confident of our chances and we have a lot of data from the previous two years to fall back on. We hope to be fighting at the top step but the most important is that we focus on ourselves and not be too carried away by what the competitors are doing of fielding,” he added.