After a hectic and harassed start of the STV Auto Rally held in Subic last May 2017, our Mini Team knew it would be hard to defend the championship title from our nemesis, the Subaru Team.
The Subaru Team was gunning for their 3rd win in the rally and that would have given them the coveted title of STV ARCC Grand Champion. Their members, ironically, got it for the Mini team before they shifted allegiance to Subaru 2014. They were going for the Grand Award last year when our young team of Mini Club owners and MP Turbo Team members were able to win it in the most dramatic fashion.
This duel between our 2 teams is fast becoming the talking point of the participants. To say that the Subaru team wanted to win this event is an understatement. Our goal though was not to commit a mistake and try to get the championship with the help of our 3 Mini cars competing.
Add the fact that this rally had a different format wherein 160 kms. were all in one stage right from the start in Harbor Point Mall, then no one could predict the outcome. The best plans and wishes of all teams don’t come to fruition, especially ours.
Right from the start, our Mini Car 5 had a good workout! With the delayed start at 10am, we encountered heavy traffic going up Tipo Road to go to SCTEX. Our driver, Asian Gymkhana Champion Milo Rivera had to find ways to meet up on time to our first checkpoint.
After we exited to Dinalupihan and driving for more than 25 minutes, we got to the first checkpoint. We were late by more than 2 minutes and that wasn’t a good start. Later on, we found out that our teammates where all late by more than 5 minutes which was the maximum time for lateness.
Worse to worst
However, our run to the 2nd checkpoint was worst! We missed it completely and arrived at the 3rd checkpoint instead! You can imagine the look in my eyes when the marshal told me that he was manning the 3rd time control and we were far away from the last one.
We had to rush going back and found the checkpoint after more than 35 minutes of driving. It’s good we had a maximum lateness of 5 minutes only for that stage or else we wouldn’t be in contention for any award. The good thing was that we got only 1 second off when we went back to the 3rd checkpoint since we already knew where it was.
The first 80 kms. of the rally was like getting our bearings back from last year’s rally, as we didn’t have any practice prior to this one. We thought that we will improve in the coming stages and that we did!
We finally got 2 perfect times in a row for Stages 9 & 10. We were on a roll until Lindy and I suffered from jet lag again and we became sleepy. Milo also was falling off the pace, as he had no rest too from taping his show Garahista.
We also started getting on each other’s nerves in the final 80 kms. I guess our lack of sleep, stressful running and desire to do well suddenly made our car different from when we started. Luckily, we all stuck together and again kept our cool even after some mood swings. Rallies do test the crew’s relationship when problems appear.
My timing went off big time when we went inside SBMA and got into the checkpoint 4 minutes early! Must have miscalculated a lot of action points or punched in the wrong figures in our calculator. Up to now, I don’t have the energy to review this mistake as it was a major one.
Blind leading the blind
When we fell off our starting position of no. 5 when we got lost, we were in the final half of the grid for the duration of the rally. Here we saw a lot of mistakes by the other teams and some were literally going around in circles.
The bad thing was other cars were following the lost vehicles ahead of them and were being led to the wrong route. Our route navi, my forever partner Lindy Pellicer, was on the ball after that missed checkpoint early on. Milo and I were also helping and we found our way out the military camp and Cubi routes.
Just to emphasize the point, a participating Lexus NX almost collided with us when it backed up not knowing we were right behind! Luckily, we honked our horn right before our cars touched.
All’s well that ends well
When we arrived at the finish line, we were all spent but happy. We knew we were not going to get the championship as our other teammates also had problems on their own. With the rules stating that the best and the worst team’s scores will determine the winner, then it was going to be hard.
Come awarding day a week after in Valle Varde Club, it was confirmed! Subaru wins the individual category, the corporate team award and the highly sought after, 3-time Grand Champion Award! We still got 2nd for the team award and 3rd in the individual category, which was more than what we bargained for.
In the end, we learned a lot and we are now organizing more TSD events to spread the good news about this event. Wait for our stories on the first one, the Petron Mabuhay Independence Rally and it was a great one! Godspeed to all!