Toyota GR86, GR Sport models to launch in Malaysia? Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival Season 5 announced – paultan.org03/08/2022
UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) has announced that it will introduce several GR and GR Sport models soon. This is part of efforts to expand the Gazoo Racing brand in Malaysia, with others being the return of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and GR Velocity Esports Championship for a fifth season as well as increasing the number of dedicated GR Garages nationwide.
Before we get to those other initiatives, let’s talk new models. Currently, the GR line-up in Malaysia consists of the GR Supra, GR Yaris and Vios GR Sport, but there are plenty of other cars that bear the GR or GR Sport branding that could potentially be launched here.
One of them is a full-fat GR model, the new GR86, which first made its global debut back in April last year. The original 86 was launched here back in 2012 and the facelifted version arrived later in 2017. The GR86 is the successor to the 86 and benefits from an enhanced platform, new styling and a more powerful 2.4 litre naturally-aspirated flat-four petrol engine that serves up 235 PS (232 hp) at 7,000 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 3,700 rpm.
Like its predecessor, the new model was developed in collaboration with Subaru that also saw the introduction of a second-generation BRZ. Both sports cars continue to send drive to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Moving away from the GR86, Toyota also has several GR Sport versions of existing models, including the Corolla, Corolla Cross, Yaris and Hilux. These models are not as purpose-built like the GR86, GR Supra and GR Yaris, but they do benefit from revisions that make them sportier to look at and/or to drive.
While we’ll have to wait to find out what GR products UMWT plans to launch here, the company has confirmed efforts are already underway to enhance and expand the network of dedicated GR Garages nationwide, which offer aftermarkets parts and official merchandise to customers.
This year also sees the continuation of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival for a fifth season. Like previous seasons, the Vios Challenge one-make racing series will anchor the event, and this year will feature three rounds and a total of six races.
Round 1 will kick off during the weekend of March 18-20, followed by Round 2 from June 24-26 and the third and final round from September 23-25. Two out of the three rounds will be held at the Sepang International Circuit, with one street race planned.
The Vios Challenge will be divided into four classes yet again: the Promotional class for local celebrities, the Super Sporting class for elite and professional drivers, the Sporting class for amateur and gentleman drivers and a Rookie Class for young drivers.
Three-time Vios Challenge Super Sporting class champion Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel returns as Gazoo Racing’s Malaysian ambassador this year. Sadly, Akio Takeyama will not be competing this year after having done so for the past four seasons. The chief motorsports officer who is also deputy chairman of UMWT has already reached the end of his tenure here and will return to Japan – he is succeeded at UMWT by Takashi Obata.
“I would like to record my excitement and commitment to chart the way forward for Gazoo Racing to continue to make an impactful and valuable contribution to Malaysia – via our involvement in motorsports and the development of young talent, through more GR experiences and touchpoints through our GR vehicles, the assembly of GR-Sport vehicles in Malaysia, the expansion of the GR Garage network and the offering of performance parts and merchandises for Toyota and GR customers,” said Obata.
Drivers will compete for a prize pool of more than half a million ringgit, with RM70,000 and RM50,000 going to the overall champion of the Super Sporting and Sporting class champions. UMWT noted that in the four seasons of the Vios Challenge, there have been eight million spectators and online viewers, garnering a social media reach exceeding 19 million.
The 2022 Gazoo Racing calendar will also return of the Vios Sprint Cup, which will run independently of the Vios Challenge. The new series will feature two rounds scheduled for April and July in tandem with the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS), with each round having two races. A prize pool of RM200,000 is up for grabs in the Vios Sprint Cup, providing more racing and rewards for participating drivers, teams and dealers already signed up to compete in the Vios Challenge.
Beyond that, Gazoo Racing will also be involved in the Sepang 1000KM (S1K) in November, with the Vios Enduro Cup set to run in conjunction with the endurance race with RM30,000 in prize monies on offer.
UMWT also confirmed its involvement in e-sports this year with the fifth season of the GR Velocity Esports Championship. First held in 2018, the e-sports competition today attracts close to 1,000 participants with more than one million online spectators.
“Racing has opened up a multitude of opportunities for Toyota domestically and we will continue to build on this strong momentum to drive both the Toyota and GAZOO Racing brands ahead with exciting activities as well as products,” said Ravindran Kurusamy, president of UMWT.
“Overall, the objective of our racing activities is to contribute to growth of Malaysian motorsports from all aspects – to not only provide an affordable platform for competition; to grow awareness and appreciation for motorsports amongst the masses; and to uncover, develop and provide a conducive platform for the nation’s next generation of young and talented drivers to step up in motor-racing,” he added.
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