The chassis is stiffer and together with better suspension, LSD and tyres — almost all drivers are posting quicker times
AN ELABORATE list of safety features and some minor performance upgrades make all the difference in the all-new Toyota Vios race car, which made its debut in all classes of racing in Season 3 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and Toyota Vios Challenge street racing series.
Running to a one-make race format where driving skills takes precedence over any vehicle modifications, the series which kicked off on Sept 6, 2019, at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, featured three classes of racing — for celebrity drivers (Promotional), for amateur (Sporting) and for professional racers (Super Sporting).
Winner of Race One in the Super Sporting Class (Laser Motor Racing) Mark Darwin said the biggest change in the car is the limited slip differential (LSD).
“The car now feels much more alive and the suspension is good. The engine and transmission are pretty much the same,” he added.
Runner-up, Tengku Djan Ley Tengku Mahaleel said the car is a lot more responsive.
“This weekend is the first time I have driven the car as I was unable to do the shakedown. From the practice session I managed to make small changes here and there and I could actually feel the difference.
“This year is going to be a good year where those drivers who are able to set-up their car for the track will have an advantage. The other biggest difference this season is that the top nine cars are all within a second of the fastest qualifying time. Everyone is super competitive this year,” he said.
Third place winner of Race One in the Super Sporting Class and season two Sporting Class Champion Brendon Lim noted the importance of setting up a car.
“Depending on your driving style, the set-up of the car’s camber, toe and tyre pressure is critical to getting the best performance out of the car over a race weekend. Tyre pressure is most important,” he said Sporting Class racer from the Panglima City Racing Team, Kenneth Koh said the car is better in terms of handling.
“The chassis is stiffer and together with better suspension, LSD and tyres — almost all the drivers are posting quicker times in Kuala Terengganu.
“I was 1.5 seconds quicker in the first unofficial practice session and during the shakedown at Sepang International Circuit, my time was three seconds faster.
“There are a lot of improvements in the car and it is a lot easier to handle. We also have a lot more grip from this season’s tyres,” Koh added.
Super Sporting Class racer William Ho acknowledged that the biggest strength in the new car is in the more rigid chassis and the suspension which is firmer this season.
“We experienced a lot more flex in the older generation car, especially when you hit a kerb on the track, but with the new car, it was firm and planted.
“Our times are also a lot quicker, and I believe this also has something to do with the newer tyres which offer a lot more grip. My qualifying time was half a second faster compared to last season on the same track,” said the season one runner-up from the Toyotsu Racing team.
Another Super Sporting Class contender, Kenny Lee said the new car has improved in terms of suspension, brakes and traction.
“The biggest challenge last season was fighting for more traction and getting the right balance between getting brake bite and grip.
“This season is going to be about the driver’s ability to set-up the car well. It is amazing how the car reacts better with just minor changes,” said the Kegani Racing racer.
Super Sporting Class racer from the M7 Japan Project team Syafiq Ali said racers had better grip from the tyres this season.
“There is also more bite from the car’s LSD. Setting up the car will also be very important this season. Those who are able to set up the car to minimise the understeer should be able to be a lot faster on the track.
“Experiencing understeer means you cannot accelerate because that would just send you into the concrete safety barrier. It is better to have oversteer because the rear will just point the car in the direction you want, and you can immediately be on the accelerator.”
The new Toyota Vios race car comes with a five-speed manual transmission, Toyota racing development (TRD) clutch and TRD LSD.
Its interior consists of OMP bucket seat, OMP safety harness, OMP steering wheel, TRD roll cage, an on-board camera, a fire extinguisher system, a semi-auto kill switch and a Motec tachometer.
It is supported by a TRD fully adjustable suspension, a TRD stabiliser bar, endless brake pads, steel braided brake hoses, Enkei alloy rims, and Toyo tyres (195/50R15).
Its exterior comes with a TRD exhaust system, OMP tow hook and OMP bonnet pins, while for aero- dynamics — there is a TRD front bumper lip, TRD rear bumper apron, TRD side skirts and TRD boot spoiler.