Mini Team is 2016 STV rally winner!

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MIKE POTENCIANO

MIKE POTENCIANO

(Last part)
After last week’s short history on the Sampaguita Rallies, or what international pundits call the Time Speed Distance (TSD) Rallies, let’s see how our Mini Team was able to garner the coveted top prizes in the 2016 STV Auto Rally last November. It was really a very unexpected win and we were truly caught off guard.

STV rally format
The unique format of the event dictates that the overall winner will be taken from the accumulated total demerits of the best performing car and the worst one in the team. So, with a minimum of 3 cars per team, the car with the least number of demerits and the one with the most number, will be the cars that will qualify for the Corporate Team Award. There will also be Individual Awards along with Alpha (morning) and Beta (afternoon) leg winners.

There were 50+ cars joining this 2016 edition and each car had to have 3 members – driver, navigator and timer. Our Mini Team had the maximum permissible number of 4 cars with preference going to Mini Team owners. Car 23 was manned by Rommel Regino, Jojo Uligan and Henry Buenconsejo. Car 37 had Dante Gozum, Charles Tan and Alain Solivet. Car 46 had Jeff Lizardo, Roy Galve and Janferds Balois.

Our MP Turbo group was in Mini Car 9 and was composed of navigator Lindy Pellicer, I the timer, and our latest recruit, the 2016 Asian Gymkhana and National Slalom Champion, Milo Rivera. We were going on our 2nd run as a team and were lucky to have Milo available for this event. The 21 year old is such a busy man especially with his senior year in DLSU and promoting racing through AAP’s Motor Sports Development Program, where he is an instructor.


Team to beat
In the past, Lindy and I had run for several manufacturers, including Toyota, Honda and Peugeot with different 3rd members. We always had a blast joining the STV Auto Rally events especially in our new Mini team. We were considered as one of the serious teams that could go up against the might of the On-Time, All-The-Time veterans.

These veterans were Eric Valera, Elbert Cuenca, Raffy David, Monch Gupit and their well-trained crew which secured three consecutive wins for Mini in 2012-2014. The same teams took the win to Subaru for 2015 when they shifted their allegiance. This year, they were with Subaru again and was the team to beat!

Mini’s honcho Willy Tee Ten was also one of the good timers in the past STV Rallies when the veterans were running with him. Unluckily, Sir Willy was opening an Autohub dealership in the South and could not make it. He really hoped he could have joined us as he was itching to do it again.

Practice makes perfect
Our team wanted to do well in this event but every time we scheduled a practice session, not everyone could attend. Being near Christmas time, it was really hard to get the whole team together. Even the composition of the team was always changing as some couldn’t take time off work or had an emergency to attend to.

Just to get the most number of teammates to attend, we had to schedule 2 consecutive days of practice in the Mini BGC Showroom. First up was the classroom session where the theoretical part was explained by myself. This was geared more for the timer and route navigator as I felt that these were the 2 most important people that can make or break your team.

The driver is still very important but he should follow the directions given by the navigator as to where to go, and the timer if they needed to speed up or slow down. We also organized a short practice run around the Bonifacio Global City on our final day and this exposed a lot of problems in our teams. The timers were not able to calculate fast enough and the navigators lost their way in the short run. After the practice, we just decided to have fun and just try our best without getting lost.

Subic showdown
Our call time in Subic Freeport’s Harbor Point was at 8am and we all decided to meet up at Petron NLEX KM 42 around 530am. Right away, this didn’t materialize as Lindy and I were late getting to the venue. However, we all met up in Subic where we filled up the cars and had a fast breakfast.

It was great to see our team managers Owee Cruz and Mae Valdez all there. Even though they had to go back home to Manila right after the start, they made it a point to see us take off. Now that’s dedication and I think that gave the team a little more push to do well.

After a quick check of our odometers in the official distance marker in Subic, we all made it to the starting point with a few minutes to spare. We all had to rush putting on the event’s official stickers and synchronize our timepieces, before we attended the opening ceremonies.

Looking at the competition, we saw the mighty Subaru team all ready but were trimmed down to 1 team. The veterans were all there with a lot of new faces in the crowd. This event is so unpredictable that even beginners get to win a stage or two. One of the most notable newbies were the Ford team of our past team mate Steven Yu, who only formed the team a few days before the event.

With our limited practice and haphazard results that we got in it, we were only hoping for an Individual podium finish as it was almost impossible to beat the veterans as they looked all prepared. Luckily, our Angels were working overtime and we just didn’t get the top Individual Championship, but the Corporate Team Award as well! Find out how our Mini Team did it next week and it’s a great story. Godspeed!

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