In the last two columns, I wrote about how On-Time, All-The-Time Rallies, or TSD Rallies, came about and how our Mini Rally team prepared for it. This time, I will reveal the inside stories of how our team luckily won the 2016 STV Auto Rally Corporate Challenge held in Subic. Check it out and see how close it was!
Our Mini Car # 9 was composed of my partner forever Lindy Pellicer who navigated the route, our driver was the 2016 Asian Gymkhana and National Slalom Champion Milo Rivera and I handled the timing duties.
Right at the start, we knew it would be hectic and crazy. We came just in time with Team Managers Owee Cruz and Mae Valdez who came to Subic just to see us take off.
The Alpha or morning leg was very technical around the Subic base. We even got lost along the way as we misinterpreted the tulip sign. It takes time for us to gel, especially for me to compute for the proper time to arrive. The organizers don’t allow scientific calculators, cell phones or any gadget that can help in calculating the exact time. We could only use stopwatches, simple calculators and pre-computed times vs speed tables.
We were just warming up when we were immediately confronted with the first checkpoint. This didn’t happen before and it caught us off guard! We incurred about 36 seconds delay in checking in and accrued the same number of demerits. Our rally didn’t start well and we all had to adjust our timing together!
Best to worse
After a few more kilometers and checkpoints, we were able to get our bearings and adjusted our technique accordingly. We knew we were getting better and soon, we posted 2 perfect times in checkpoints 5 & 6. We were so happy and knew we had the momentum to finish well.
However, this sudden elation might have let our guard down. Since it was technical course, we steered near the finish point in Subic’s Harbor Pointe. I assumed that there will be no more checkpoints before that and when we came to the end, it showed that it was checkpoint 8 and we missed no. 7!
I noticed that the perfect time was only a minute and 20 seconds away so it must have been quite close. We decided to go back and find it or we would have been penalized with maximum demerits of 300 for both checkpoints 7 & 8. We found the missing checkpoint and it previously as checkpoint no. 1. This was never done before and we learned a new thing again.
Our teammates in Mini # 23 of Rommel Regino, Jojo Uligan and Henry Buenconsejo did well and won checkpoints 7 & 8 with the lowest demerits posted. Mini #37 of Dante Gozum, Charles Tan and Alain Solivet, and Car 46 of Jeff Lizardo, Roy Galve and Janferds Balois reported no problems and didn’t get lost. This turned out to be a great morning leg for the team as the other team members were stepping up, too.
Winner takes all
After lunch, previous champions of the Subaru Team Eric Valera, Elbert Cuenca, Monch Gupit and their seasoned crew told us that they also got lost in the morning leg. This made us on even level and we knew the Beta or afternoon leg will determine the winner!
As soon as we were flagged off, this leg would be very different from the morning leg. The teams had to go through the National roads out of Subic base and into the small secondary roads of Dinalupihan town. This will also get into the SCTEX highway and it will be a long drive.
Right away, we took perfect time in checkpoint 1 and gave us a great start. However, when we got out of Subic and into the back roads, we encountered 2 burial processions and this backed up traffic for a long time. The problem was that we were the first car that encountered the problem and the first eight cars and the from no. 12 onwards didn’t experience it.
In the end, the organizers said that they will not cancel the checkpoint with the procession and we were going to be penalized for being late along with the rest of the field that were affected.
We had to work harder and do better. We responded with perfect times in checkpoints 4 and 6. We knew we had done well enough to be in the top 3 for the individual awards but we didn’t expect much for the team award as we had no feedback of the others’ times.
At the end of the leg, our teammates recalled their problems and the worse hit was car 23. They missed 2 checkpoints and didn’t bother to find them again. The others were ok and didn’t get lost but had no actual times to report. The awarding ceremonies would be after a week and so we all waited for the results anxiously.
When the winners were read at the Valle Verde Country Club, we were surprised that the organizers announced the two Subaru cars in 2nd and 3rd places for the Individual awards. Then they called our Mini #9 for the top Individual Championship and we couldn’t believe it! They also announced that Mini Team won the Corporate Team Award too and we were over the moon!
The newly formed Ford team came in 2nd and the hardworking Isuzu team in 3rd. The highly respected Subaru team had a big problem with one of its cars and this took them out of the top 3. It was a great finish to a great event and we are now a marked team for this year’s STV Rally. We hope to defend the crown this May and also promote TSD Rallies to everyone. Godspeed and see you in our next adventure!