Ticking off my bucket list at the 2022 Toyota GR Vios Cup

Toyota started the month of July with a bang as it held the first leg of the 2022 Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup at the Clark International Speedway. It’s a tough competition that will leave spectators on the edge of their seats. You’ll witness veteran racers, celebrities, influencers, and members of the media at the top of their game, keeping their eyes on the prize.

The most-awaited event was the Circuit Championship where a total of 27 racers were classified into three categories: Super Sporting, Sporting, and Promotional class. Likewise, for the Autocross Challenge, influencers and members of the media were assigned to either Sporting or Promotional class.

All autocross racers had the chance to drive the Toyota Vios 1.5L with a CVT automatic. Catching sight of its sporty racing look was fascinating, but it’s a whole other level driving it to its full capabilities. In addition to that, gearing up in fancy racing suits, balaclavas, and helmets was one of the things I looked forward to the most as a first-timer.

I was part of the Autocross Challenge, where relatively low-speed car handling and driver skills are the main highlights. Given how technical it could be, this is a great way to gauge your skills in accelerating, braking and steering.

The week before our scheduled race, we joined the Toyota Gazoo Racing Academy, and underwent several exercises to develop the essential skills on the racetrack. With the motivation and uplifting spirit of our instructors, the first-time jitters were lifted from our shoulders. The overall experience turned out to be very insightful and exhilarating.

We tried braking exercises, accelerating to 80 km/h then braking as late and as hard as possible without losing control. This was followed by a slalom exercise, where we had to thread our way around several pylons then make a 180-degree turn at the end. Our goal was to achieve a clean run as fast as we can; toppling over a pylon will result in a 2-second penalty. There were a few recorded practice runs to assess our speed, as well as to know how we stand up against the rest of the participants.

The author with her 3rd place trophy

Launching the car fast by stepping on the brake and gas pedal simultaneously, then releasing the brake while flooring the gas, significantly reduced my time – a brake-torque launch technique my dad and brother coached me to do.

Unfortunately, I didn’t fare so well during our practice runs, which put a lot of pressure on me. As a lowkey competitive person, it’s a huge blow to your ego finishing last, even if you know you’re bound to suck at something new. Eventually, I managed to set aside this idea and just focused on enjoying the ride.

Without any racing experience, my primary purpose was to cultivate my driving skills and apply them in city driving. That said, I was determined to give it my best shot regardless of the outcome. But a twist in the events led to a big surprise that concluded my first race – a podium finish. I bagged 3rd place in the Media Promotional Class for the Autocross Challenge. To sum up my experience in two words: amazing and nerve-wracking. Going out of my comfort zone, trying something new, you never forget your first – it’s certainly one for the books!

This is just the start of the 3-leg season, and we’re anticipating even more thrilling action on the racetrack for the succeeding legs in August and November. Stay tuned to find out who will come out on top!

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