|Photos by Ulysses Ang and Toyota Press|
On Friday, Carlos Castaneda (Car No. 69) of Toyota Alabang produced a stunning lap time to take pole position. Choachuy, only 0.127 seconds behind lined up in second. Andres Calma (Car No. 97) of Toyota Alabang slotted in third. Luis Gono (Car No. 17) of Toyota North EDSA and Basti Escalante (Car No. 77) of Toyota Otis ended up in fourth and sixth respectively with Inaki Araneta (Car No. 23) of Toyota Alabang sandwiched by the two young guns.
As Race 3 went underway, it was clear that no rain would be falling (at least for the start). Choachuy made a nice, clean getaway to get alongside Castaneda to take the lead. Castaneda hounded Choachuy as the duo made their way to the first corner and soon there was a dice for the lead. Eventually, Choachuy emerged as the victor in the wheel-to-wheel battle. As Choachuy pulled ahead, Gono closed in with the leading pair and almost overtook Castaneda only the move didn’t stick. Throughout Race 3, Choachuy and Castaneda worked each other flat out with several brave overtaking maneuvers including one at Acacia.
In the Celebrity Division, Phoemela Barranda didn’t complete her hat-trick of wins. A botched start meant she was quickly overtaken by Jinno Rufino. A collision with new racer Steve Bicknell (Car No. 41) further resulted in Barranda dropping back to third, losing the place to Sam YG. Meanwhile, in the Media Category, Top Gear’s Paulo Subido remained unchallenged. The Philippine STAR’s Angel Rivero took second place after a race-long battle with Rhian Ramos. Miko Halili of Slam! Magazine, who was well off the pace throughout the weekend spun out and didn’t even manage to finish Race 3.
After twelve electrifying laps, Choachuy won followed by Castaneda, Araneta, Gono, Bryan Co (Car No. 55) of Toyota La Union, Calma, Pauland Dumlao (Car No. 28) of Toyota San Fernando, Escalante, Carlos Loinaz (Car No. 11) of Toyota Batangas, and Dominic Ochoa (Car No. 25) of Toyota Quezon Avenue completing the Top 10.
As the Vios Race Cars were being inspected and prepped for Race 4, torrential rain suddenly poured at the Clark International Speedway causing unsafe pools of water to form around the track. Together with the poor visibility, organizers opted to delay Race 4. In fact, the race was almost going to be cancelled, but as the rains eased up just before the 6:00 PM deadline, Race 4 proceeded.
With the grid positions in the order that they finished, Choachuy was the clear favorite to win once again. When the red lights turned off, Choachuy made a quick getaway. Gono, who was in fourth place on the grid, rocketed to second even before the first series of turns thanks to a blistering start. The man on the move though was Ochoa who made his way from eigth to third. Araneta fell to ninth while Allan Uy (Car No. 66) of Toyota Quezon Avenue made his way to sixth from twelve. All of these happened on Lap One. Later, Ochoa was closing on the leaders and even overtook Gono for second only to spin out. However, thanks to impeccable car control, he managed to recover. Further down the grid, celebrity Fadio Ide spun out and partially blocked a turn while Halili and Tonton Ramos (Car No. 33) of Toyota Quezon Avenue opted to bow out.
As the Vios Cup racers blitzed ahead (there was a clear delineation between first to twelfth and thirteenth onward), an interesting battle brewed at the back between media participants Subido and Rivero and celebrity Rhian Ramos. Both Rivero and Ramos managed to overtake Subido coming into the first corner. The two girls were jostling for track position but a mistake from Ramos enabled Subido to overtake Rivero. With Ramos now ahead of Subido followed closely by Rivero, Rivero tried to position herself for an overtaking maneuver only to be shut down by the early braking Rhian. This caused Rivero to hydroplane on a puddle of water, spin, and hit the wall ending her race.
With visibility dropping considerably, organizers opted to end the race at Lap 9 to make sure everyone got maximum points for Race 4. After the red flag was waved, Choachuy finished first followed by the Uy and Gono. In the Celebrity division, Sam YG broke Barranda’s streak while Subido finished first in the Media division.
Heading to the third and final round (Race 5 and 6), Jason Choachuy is the clear favorite to win the inaugural 2014 Toyota Vios Cup Championships barring any unforeseen incidents. However, everyone’s sure that the likes of Gono, Uy, and the rest of the 30 car grid will not take it lying down and this will ensure even more wheel-to-wheel action. Round 3 of the Toyota Vios Cup is tentatively slated on Saturday, October 18. The 2014 Toyota Vios Cup is supported by Bridgestone, Rota, Motul, Brembo, Denso, AVT, and OMP.