Our Mini Rally Team recently bagged the Grand Slam in the just concluded STV Auto Rally Corporate Challenge held at Subic last November. With more than 35 entries from the different car manufacturers, this event was always the grand display where rally enthusiasts could do their thing in cars provided by the manufacturers. It was also the best way to revive rallying in the country.
It was not that easy to keep the enthusiasts and manufacturers interested in the ARCC though and it all boils down as to how we should look at this sport called rallying. Without much further ado, here’s a short history on the ARCC and how our Mini Team took the laurels this year.
Rally for 2
When people aspire to become the next World Rally Champion like Sebastian Ogier or Sebastian Loeb, they quickly join rallycrosses or dirt trials to get themselves ready for this very exciting sport. However, these new enthusiasts forget that it takes 2 to tango inside a rally car.
A co-driver, or navigator, is as important as the driver and he/she will have to be on top of his/her game for the team to win. However, it is the most thankless job in rallying and it is hard to find someone brave enough to ride shotgun in a speeding rally car in the boondocks. If you are lucky enough to find a person that is willing to risk his/her life in your hands, the best way to practice is for the both of you to join a Time Speed Distance Rally, or what is locally known as the Sampaguita Rally.
Tulip or sampaguita
In international rallies, the directional signs are known as “tulip” signs in the road book. When the Filipinos brought rallies in the country in the 1960s, they change the tulip name to “Sampaguita”, which is our national flower.
The rallies followed the on-time, all-the-time or TSD format of the rallies before, with speed taking a back seat against accuracy. There were 2-3 persons in the car to make sure the team arrives right on time at the predetermined or unannounced checkpoints. If they arrived early or late from their designated time, they were given 1 demerit per second. The team with the least number of demerits won the event.
Special stage rallying
Soon, the TSD rallies evolved into the fast and exciting WRC stage rallying format, as average speeds became higher and higher, and were eventually scrapped altogether. The teams just had to post the fastest time in the stage and the one with the lowest, accumulated total time was declared the winner.
There were rallies that had long distances like the Safari and Dakar types, and others which had tarmac and/or rough roads. In the end, it was the combination of the driver’s skill to handle all kinds of terrain, the navigator’s cunning calls to guide the driver in the stage, the car’s ultimate preparation and the maintenance of the hard-working service crew that determined the winner. Rallying is really the pinnacle of team work in Motorsports!
Back to the future
Sadly, local rallies had hibernated in the late 2000s but there is now a growing passion to revive it. As of this moment, the Sampaguita-type STV Rally is the only one alive and is organized by the big daddy of Motoring Media, Butch Gamboa.
Butch is the producer of the country’s longest airing motoring show-Motoring Today, Auto Focus and a lot of other motoring events. He and Georges Ramirez have teamed up to make the STV Auto Rally Corporate Challenge a regular event that we look forward to participating every year since 2010.
The event had grown from a single leg to 2 runs per year in 2014-15 where scores were combined to determine the winner for the year. At its height, there were more than 60 cars competing in each leg. This year, it is back to a single leg and it’s winner take all!