|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
15-year old karter and racing phenomenon Luis Gono (# 17) of Toyota North EDSA was the clear favorite to sweep the two opening races by securing a scorching qualifying lap some 0.7 seconds faster than anyone else. However, his race didn’t go as smoothly. During Race 1, Choachuy and Uy kept a similar race pace to Gono. Eventually, Choachuy piled enough pressure on Gono allowing him to overtake. Gono fought hard trying to overtake Choachuy and clipped the leading Vios’s rear bumper. In the resulting dogfight, Uy ended up in the race lead at one point. Still, Choachuy managed to cross the line without his rear bumper to take a well-fought Race 1 win. Gono crossed in second and Uy third. Adding injury to insult, Gono was handed a 10-place grid penalty in Race 2 by the FIA/AAP track stewards for his racing accident with Choachuy.
Starting in the order they finished in Race 1, Choachuy, Uy, Basti Escalante (# 77) of Toyota Otis, and Inaki Araneta (# 23) of Toyota Alabang stormed ahead of the pack. Uy managed to get better of Choachuy and overtook the Race 2 pole sitter. However, the man who was on the move was Gono who quickly stormed from 12th place. Using his skill, determination, and a great start, he quickly made his way up to sixth place in just the opening set of laps. After that, a series of carefully executed overtaking maneuvers enabled him to eventually take up third place. At the front, Choachuy managed to re-overtake Uy going into Turn 1, but the FIA/AAP track stewards deemed the pass illegal since it was done under a yellow flag because of Ira Panganiban (# 2) of Autocar Philippines stricken race car. The ten-second penalty meant that Uy won the second race even though Choachuy crossed the finish line first.
Aside from the Vios Cup racers, Toyota Motor Philippines invited five celebrities: Rhian Ramos (#8), Sam YG (# 6), Fabio Ide (# 11), Phoemela Baranda (# 12), and Jinno Rufino (# 10) and five media personalities: Manny delos Reyes (# 7) of The Philippine STAR, Anjo Perez (# 4) of The Manila Bulletin, Ardie Lopez (# 9) of C! Magazine, Christopher Kho (#5) of TimeAttackManila, and Ira Panganiban to join the historic grid. Baranda proved that she can race well against the boys taking home the Celebrity Division win, while Kho’s youth and speed enabled him to scoop top honors in the Media Division.
Apart from the Toyota Vios Cup one-make race, Toyota Motor Philippines invited the “Drift King” himself, Mr. Keiichi Tsuchiya, to hold a drifting demonstration behind the wheel of a bone-stock 86 sports car. Mr. Tsuchiya also held a meet-and-greet session just before the awarding ceremony while the rock band Itchyworms closed the day’s festivities with a concert.
Toyota Motor Philippines hopes to replicate the success of the first round of the Toyota Vios Cup with the remaining three rounds. The tentative schedule of the 2014 Toyota Vios Cup is as follows: Round 2 (Race 3 and 4), July 26; Round 3 (Race 5 and 6), October 18 both at the Clark International Speedway; Round 4 (Race 7 and 8)’s date and venue are still to be announced.
“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,” said Mr. Michinobu Sugata, President of Toyota Motor Philippines.
Based off the run-of-the-mill Vios 1.5G M/T, it 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. The Vios Cup cars are fitted with Bridgestone high-performance tires, Rota lightweight racing alloy wheels, Denso Iridium sparkplugs, protected by Motul oils and lubricants, and fitted with OMP safety equipment.