While I stood on the side of the road watching the 2nd round of the Toyota Vios Cup in Filinvest, Alabang last Sunday, I remembered the time when I watched my first circuit race firsthand.
The thrill of seeing the races right in front of me with the sound of those straining engines and cars bumping into each other made me so excited, wide eyed and even jumping for joy. I knew then that this would be my calling when I grew up.
I am sure that there were a lot of people out there, young or old, man or woman, who felt the same way I did years ago. And this is why I say Bravo to Toyota for helping revive Motorsports! Let’s analyze how the Vios Cup has completely brought up the sport of racing to its proper pedestal.
A one-make race series is the same car model racing around on the track and this is what the Toyota Vios Cup is all about. Low powered Vios cars might not sound exciting, but having a tightly controlled specification will reward the best-prepared car and driver in the event.
The addition of weight penalties to winning cars/drivers will make the races even tighter. Anyone that had raced in one-make races will tell you that it’s one of the hardest races to win and also one of the most notorious to control!
Exciting race venues
Most of the Vios Cup races were held in non-permanent tracks, just like the recently concluded Alabang race along with SM MOA, Cebu Reclamation, Subic Airport, McKinley Hills BGC and the planned Bacolod event. Being on held closed, public/private venues that were not designed to be racetracks, the amount of safety preparations are tremendous! The Automobile Association of the Philippines is on top of securing that safety standards are followed according to FIA approved specs for the track and cars.
These new purpose-built tracks had made good, equal racing in terms of practice and set up. There is only a short time to practice and usually the driver will have to adjust to the varied conditions. Couple it with the unpredictable weather and you have a perfect storm brewing up in every race!
Just pushing the concept of motor sports to promote a car made some of the manufacturers look the other way and come up with flimsy excuses, but not Toyota!
They had seen the value of motor sports for the longest time and in fact, had been joining different race disciplines worldwide since the 1970s. Recently, Toyota is coming back to the World Endurance Championship, the World Rally Championship and in the US, NASCAR and various Off-road Championships.
Toyota’s past president Michinobu Sugata was the one that pushed for their locally made subcompact Vios model to be promoted in the realm of motor sports. From a humble start of 12 entries in 2014, the series has now grown to more than 50 in its 3rd season and is even growing bigger!
The Toyota organizers even had to create new classes called the Super Sporting Class to move up the winners of the past 2 seasons. Hopefully, the new Toyota Motor President Satoru Suzuki will continue the tradition and even improve on it. There are talks of making it regional since Sugata-san is now part of Toyota Motors Asia Pacific.
The Japanese maker saw that its lineup was not attracting the new generation of buyers and had to make its cars more exciting. In 2012, Toyota announced the Waku Doki program (which loosely means an exciting adrenaline rush) and became a hit for its car marketing campaign.
This was adopted by Toyota Philippines in its push for the Vios Cup and their newly launched cars. The Waku-Doki concept helped the company attain its 15th consecutive Triple Crown Award for Motoring Excellence and also proved the slogan, “What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday!”
Fun-filled race atmosphere
The Vios Cup races have set the standard for organizers to emulate. The presence of 1,000 seating air-conditioned tents, live concert on a huge awarding stage, gigantic screens for fans to watch the races live, well secured and accessible grandstand areas, display areas for Toyota cars and sponsors’ products and those great safety barriers lining the tracks have given the event a luxurious and purposeful feel to it. This logistical support is not easy to do and is very expensive to implement!
Include the numerous celebrity drivers that are sponsored by Toyota in their own cars, then you have a hit with the public! The beautiful people glamorize the event and you have a great feeling of fiesta atmosphere right in the venue. Definitely, Toyota has not spared any cost to bring the races closer to the fans and will be the way races should be done in the future!
Hardcore drivers and teams
The Vios Cup series is now producing very good drivers. Heading the list is Andres Calma who was last year’s champion and had won the past 4 races so far. Calma is the son of basketball great Hector and mother Inez and both are very supportive of their son’s passion. Calma had started his Motorsports career in karting and grew too big for the sport. Luckily, the Vios Cup came at the proper time to showcase his talents.
Young drivers with karting background are Calma’s hardest competitors like Estefano Rivera, Basti Escalante, Bobby Domingo, Carlos Loinaz and Daniel Miranda. Last year’s runner ups and veteran drivers Allan Uy, Raymond Ronquillo and Pauland Dumlao are still up there providing a tight race each time but will need more speed to keep up with this dominant winner.
Calma’s GM Motorsport has separated from their old Toyota Alabang Team this year and had not put a dent on Andres’ performance. The Toyota Dealer Teams of Alabang, Quezon Avenue, Batangas, Cebu and San Fernando are now faced with the prospect of losing to a private team this year unless they start winning races. This means that a good team can still come in and win as long as they know what they are doing.
There are still some things that we hope to see added in the future. We would like to get the Vios Cup races in TV and online to make it seen by more people worldwide. Our MP Turbo Production Team is trying to make that happen. Also, we hope that a Champions Class be introduced for them to show what they are still capable of. I’m sure this will be very exciting to watch!
There will be 2 more legs this year and the venues will be announced shortly. We hope that Bacolod and Subic will be considered this year along with SM MOA which saw a lot of spectators enjoy the sport.
For now, Bravo to Toyota and I hope to see more races of this caliber soon. Godspeed to all!