Even a downpour did not dampen the spirits of the fans, nor the determination of the drivers to be champions of the inaugural Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival at Medini City, Iskandar Puteri.
The two-day race under three categories, namely the Sporting, Promotional and Super Sporting Classes saw a total of 38 drivers vying for glory as the first ever winners of the first TGR Festival held in Iskandar Puteri.
The first race on Friday was the Sporting Class Vios Challenge Race Series. The close racing had people on their toes and crashes brought out the safety car twice during the 30-minute race.
The final podium places went to Wong Chin Eeg, Brendon Paul Anthony and Kenneth Koh Keik Lun.
For the thousands of fans who came on the first day itself, they got a treat getting close and taking selfies with their favourite entertainment celebrities who lent not only their talent but, racing prowess as well to enliven the festival even more.
The eight A-class celebrities were actors Fattah Amin, Diana Danielle, Shukri Yahaya actor and singer Janna Nick, model and actor Venice Min, singer Geraldine Gan, entertainer Danny Koo and beatboxer, Shawn Lee. They competed in the Promotional Class.
In the second race on Friday, the celebrities got their fans’ adrenalin pumping with some close bumper-to-bumper and door handle-to door-handle racing that saw third place Diana Danielle being nudged into a spin and retirement early in the race by a spirited Danny Koo who was later disqualified when he failed to heed an instruction to take a drive through penalty for the incident.
“I didn’t realise it was a demand for me to go into the pitlane for the penalty,” Koo said later.
At the press conference after the race, Koo apologised for the incident while Diana took it all in her stride attributing it to a racing incident but vowed to do better in the second race the next day.
At one point in the race, the effervescent Janna Nick took Fattah Amin for third but lost it to a wall and the resultant puncture saw her drop to 6th place at the end.
Geraldine Gan and Akio Takeyama, the Deputy Chairman of UMW Toyota Motor took 4th and 5th respectively.
The third race of the day at Medini City’s inaugural Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival was the Super Sporting Class.
A heavy and prolonged downpour had a telling effect on the outcome of the race with a number of crashes in the early laps which called out the safety car that stayed on for 11 laps before race officials decided it was safe again to race.
The final result for the first Super Sporting Class race of the Festival were Ho Wil Liam who took first place with Wong Yew Choong and Syafiq Ali second and third respectively.
The second and last day of the Festival was the Official Opening graced by Kota Iskandar’s Mayor Adib Azhari who did a walk about around the assembled cars and drivers accompanied by President of UMW Toyota Motor Ravindran Kurusamy.
The fans were also allowed onto the track to be up close with their idols.
The excitement didn’t let up on the second day with close racing for the first event, the Sporting class crashes and shunts and with one turn yellow-flagged because a barrier had been punctured by a crash and was leaking water onto that part of the track.
The Promotional race had the celebrities dicing closely with each other once again with overtaking maneuvers and shunts, but emerging victor was again the unbeatable Shawn Lee, with Shukri Yahya taking second and Fattah Amin, third.
The final race, the Super Sporting category did not disappoint, keeping the fans perked up staring intently at the many screens put up around the venue and at the main stage.
The winner was Keifli Othman, local drift king Tengku Djan Tengku Mahaleel slip-sliding into second place with worn out breaks and Ho Wil Liam taking third.
The drivers this reporter spoke to gave a thumbs up to the track, liking the width and long straights.
There were many side shows that kept the 17,000 fans occupied and entertained around the venue at various shows such as drifting by World Champion drifters Masato Kawabata and Takahiro Imamura who was quite a character with his Kimono, complete with the Katana.