Ignition.my created history organising the country’s first ever touge-style event with SNF Touge Round 1 which was held on 22nd March 2014 at UniMAP Circuit, Perlis.
At the launch of SNF Series earlier this year, the Ignition.my team promised more events catered towards entry-level activities to be hosted around the country, and to be delivered as SNF Touge races. This has been duly delivered with the UniMAP Perlis event, the first of its kind.
To the uninitiated, touge racing may be a bit difficult to comprehend. It’s a quirky style of competition developed by the Japanese specifically for the country’s narrow and challenging mountain roads, which sees two cars run head-to-tail, with the winner being determined by the distance between the two cars at the end of the run.
If the ‘chase’ car following behind is right up behind the lead car, it is declared the winner. If the car ahead is able to pull out a gap to the car behind, the lead car is the winner. Simple yet enjoyable rules which are quite safe as overtaking is generally not required. In fact in SNF Touge, the organisers have banned overtaking altogether, in an effort to reduce any chances of collision and increase safety. Deciding the winner of each single-lap battle was a panel of three judges made up of experienced SNF timekeeper Mazran Zulkifli, SNF.my editor Mohd Zahrin Zahran, and Marketing Director of Ducatus Motor Oil, Dhayalan Renno.
“We have chosen the touge-format of competition for these events as the relatively low-speed and low-danger allows us to run in kart circuits, of which there are a few situated around the country. Of course we’d love to bring the bells and whistles of SNF Racing to everyone in Malaysia, but the reality is that are only really two or three full size circuits, and we have had to be creative to work with what is available,” explains Adian Yein, Principal of SNF and Ignition.my.
A total of 31 cars and drivers took part from all over the country. The participants were mainly from Penang, Perak, and Kedah, and there was also a handful that made it all the way from Kuala Lumpur. This included the Ms Faye Kusairi who drove her trusty Proton Satria 1.5 through the night in order to be part of this first ever touge event. “I wouldn’t miss it!” exclaimed the lady driver.
Touge racing is decided by ‘Battle Rounds’ and as the games got underway it was clear that the drivers up north, who are more accustomed to single-run time attack-style events, had to quickly learn to adapt to the new experience of driving under pressure. In the preliminary rounds, drivers would out-brake themselves or run wide as they broke under the psychological strain of having another charging vehicle around them taking its toll on their concentration.
As the event progressed the cream began to rise to the top. In the Super 1500 category, Faye Kusairi was an early winner but lost out to Syed Fahmi and his lightened Proton Satria in the 2nd round, who would progress to the finals to meet Goh Chee Hin and his Toyota Vios. Both Goh and Syed Fahmi had met earlier in the 1st round battles, and their fight would be reignited. In the first run, it was close combat between both, but in the second run at the last turn Goh ran wide which gave Syed Fahmi the win.
The Open / VTEC / Turbo category had a total of 8 cars, featuring some big hitters with colourful reputations. Suhimi Othman was a favourite in his Proton Wira MIVEC, as was Abdul Razak and his Proton Satria Turbo. Suhimi ran his challengers so close that it drew Ooohs and Aaahs from the crowd, but he had the unfortunate draw of coming up against Ismail Ali in the semi-finals.
Running under-the-radar, Ismail consistently put in quick, smooth runs in each of his battles displaying a coolness of temperament and an agile set-up Proton Satria. Suhimi kept it tight, but towards the second half of the circuit Ismail opened a gap and it was enough to advance him to the final against Abdul Razak.
The final was clear cut. In the first run Ismail pulled ahead by at least 3 car lengths by the finish, and as they swapped around for the second run he didn’t let up, tailgating Abdul Razak all the way from start to finish, a devastating show of speed by this northern racer.
Street Tuned category had the most competitors, totally 14 in all, and featuring a diverse mix of vehicles including a Toyota 4A-GE powered Mazda 808, a turbocharged Perodua Myvi, and a touge folklore legend – the Toyota Levin AE86. The presented the spectators with fascinating fights through the afternoon as the question was on everyone’s lips: will the legendary Toyota AE86 be able to win amongst such powerful and modern competition?
Into the quarter-finals, Shahrul Hisham Hashim, driver of the AE86 beat Afif Afandi in his Satria Neo; and then in the semi-finals he took the win ahead of Muhd Isyalzuddin (Gen.2) thus earning the AE86 a place in the final! His adversary had a tough fight to get to the same spot: Azmeer Ahmad and his nimble Proton Satria Neo well-driven Satrias and Wiras to go up against fellow Satria Neo pilot
Mohd Syaffiq in the quarter-finals. He quickly devoured Mohd Syaffiq, and went on to a tough fight against Suhardi Abd Raman and his Toyota Corolla AE80, which required an OMT (One More Time) run to finally decide that it would be the Satria Neo that would square off against the Levin AE86 in the final.
When the flag dropped the crowd were on their feet. The Satria Neo took lead-car status for the first run, but the AE86 kept up although he wasn’t able to keep it close at the finish. In run-2, Shahrul Hisham’s AE86 opened up a gap and he flamboyantly drifted to victory. But the judges were not convinced, the battle going to OMT before Shahrul was declared the winner “We’ll be back. It was a great, new experience, and we want more!” exclaimed Suhardi Abd Raman after the event, who won his 3rd – 4th battle to take the last spot on the podium for Street Tuned.
The next round of SNF Touge will take place on the weekend of April 12, this time at the Melaka International Motorsports Circuit (MIMC), Ayer Keroh. It will run till night, in true to the origins of the SNF Series name!
Full race results and the latest updates are available on http://www.snf.my
Words & Photos: Ignition