|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Though TV host and personality Phoemela Baranda surprised everyone by qualifying in pole position, her race didn’t go as smoothly. She was overtaken quickly by Pornelos as well as several other members of the motoring media, who clearly relied on their vast track driving experience to make use of the Vios Cup Car’s full potential. After Pornelos’s overtaking maneuver, he simply sailed into the race lead. Top Gear Philippines Team Publisher Jeff Reyes held on a late charge from Philippine STAR Columnist James Deakin who finished second and third respectively. Baranda was also handed a 15-second penalty at the end of the first heat after race marshals determined she jumped the start.
With the second heat’s starting grid based off their first heat finishing order, Jeff Reyes made use of a clean start to get past pole-sitter Pornelos before the first corner. It looked like Reyes had the second race in the bag until Pornelos dived into the first corner and took the lead with just three laps to go in the 15-lap race. Both raced aggressively, staying nose-to-tail of each other, but ultimately, it was Pornelos that once again ended up on top. Sportscaster Jinno Rufino provided much of the excitement as he spun after going into a corner too aggressively, as well as getting into contact with not one but two other racers.
Aside from his overall victory, Pornelos also took home the Media Division win as well as the fastest lap of the race. The other winners in the Media Division were Jeff Reyes (first runner-up) and James Deakin (second runner-up). In the Celebrity category, Baranda still took home the top honor with Rufino ending up in second and Japanese-Brazilian model Fabio Ide ending up in third.
The weekend’s exhibition race served as a preview to a full-fledged customer-based Vios Cup which has been green lit to start this year.
“We shall open our doors to those who would be interested to build a Team and participate in the 2014 race season. Furthermore, in order for us to achieve something even more successful and even more sustainable in the coming years, we would like to invite more partners to join us in developing this exciting world of motorsports. This will help us achieve maximum impact in promoting motorsports in the Philippines,” said a visibly excited Michinobu Sugata, President of Toyota Motor Philippines.
“In starting the Vios Cup, it is our sincerest wish to provide a platform for Filipinos to excel in this sport. This is because I truly believe there are a lot of people who have a natural love for speed as well as the necessary talent to compete on a global level. However, due to the lack of support, and expensive costs to sustain a team, it becomes a hurdle for success. In launching the Vios Cup we are addressing these issues with a cost efficient program that focuses on driver development and basic motorsports knowledge to mold racing skills of Filipinos. Through the Vios, the best-selling model in the country, customers can experience the thrill of racing through this very fun and safe vehicle. Moreover, I guarantee that this event will be backed by the necessary promotions to help this sport gain more popularity in the country. Though this dream may seem grand, today has been marked as the start of our journey to re-live the excitement of racing in the Country! Today we aim high and begin to ascend in the world of motorsports,” he added.
Based off a run-of-the-mill 1.5 G M/T, the Vios was converted into an OMR (One-Make Racer) with several TRD modifications including TRD clutch cover, clutch disc, limited slip differential, sport brake pads, muffler set, upper front mount, suspension kit, and roll cage. In addition, partners such as Yokohama provided support for the tires, Rota for the alloy wheels, and OMP for the racing suit and safety equipment. The Vios Cup Car is priced at P 1,195,000, which includes the price of a 1.5 G M/T and net of a P 700,000 discount. This affordable price tag includes entry to a full season of the Toyota Vios Cup including training. Interested parties may contact their nearest Toyota dealer for more details.