Saturday, December 17, 2016
Stock Mazda2 Snatches Class Win at Philippine Endurance Challenge
Mazda’s intensive motorsports background has been brought to light as a showroom-stock Mazda2 hatchback finished the grueling 8-hour Philippine Endurance Challenge, snatching the Manufacturer’s Cup Trophy in the process. Driven by seasoned racer Clifford Certeza along with Bermaz Malaysia marketing professional Ian Khong, and journalist Iñigo Roces, the Team Bermaz Mazda run sub-compact hatchback completed 160 laps, two more than its nearest competitor.
“This is truly a race won not only with a superior car and talented drivers but also through the efforts of a solid team of passionate Mazda Philippines employees who devoted their time and effort to this race,” shared Steven Tan, President and CEO of Bermaz Auto Philippines (BAP), the exclusive distributors of Mazda vehicles in the country.
“The Mazda2 is continuously proving to be an excellent platform for grassroots racing,” adds Tan. “With its Skyactiv-engineered suspension, chassis and engine it managed to capture this year’s Division 3 100-horsepower class in the 2016 Philippine Touring Car Championship with Edwin Rodriguez at the helm. Now, even in purely stock form, complete with seats and all trimmings, it has again endured the extremes of a pure racing environment to come out as a worthy platform to celebrate driving.”
Aside from its sharp and nimble handling (it ran with stock street camber settings), the Mazda2 finished the 8-hour race with only one set of tires. In addition, the Skyactiv engine played a crucial role extending its time on the track thanks to its stellar fuel economy. “Our strategy was to maximize the range available to the Mazda2’s standard fuel tank,” says Tan. He explains, “Staying out longer on the track gave the team an advantage during the closing stages of the race as it allowed our winning car to build a two-lap gap over the competition.”
Team Bermaz Mazda fielded two Mazda2 cars for the race. Car number 17 was the 2016 PTCC championship-winning Mazda2 Division 3 racecar piloted by PTCC Champion Rodriguez, BAP General Manager for Customer Service Ramil de Vera, and Press and Customer Relations Manager Mikko David during the PEC race. The second car, number 18, was an all-stock Mazda2 manual transmission-equipped hatchback with Certeza, Khong and Roces taking the car to the finish.
The Team Bermaz Mazda pit crew was composed of Bermaz Auto Philippines Technical and Service Field Specialists as well as Filipino Bermaz Malaysia technicians, all of which regularly perform evaluations on customer cars. Parts availability was also crucial as wear and tear components were kept in stock for the race. Tan adds, “It is but natural that we make use of the skills and talents of our BAP employees and Bermaz technicians. This experience not only elevates the company personnel’s skillset but it also provides an excellent outlet of their passion towards the Mazda brand. It allows us to live and breathe the Jinba Ittai experience which is inherent in every Mazda vehicle that our customers drive.”
Team Bermaz Mazda likewise provided logistics support to the Automobile Association Philippines PEC race campaign and its pool of AAP Motorsports Development Program scholars who drove another Mazda2 in this year’s endurance race. The three-car complement of Team Bermaz Mazda and AAP-MSDP completed a total of 345 laps around the 4.2-kilometer circuit.
The 8-hour PEC race began at 8:50 in the morning at the Clark International Speedway with 29 cars on the grid. Composed of four divisions encompassing various car set-ups, the annual race once again proved to be a true test of equipment reliability, driver skills, teamwork and strategy. A total of 123 drivers drove in the race with all but 5 cars seeing the checkered flag.