The Yokohama-Philippine GT Championship will kick off this coming May with 15 to 18 drivers expected to take part in the six races scheduled for the 2016 season.
The local GT races will be sanctioned by the Automobile Association of the Philippines and will be held at the Batangas Racing Circuit and the Clark International Speedway. Johnny Tan, organizer of the Yokohama-Philippine GT Championship, said Yokohama is the major sponsor of the GT or grand touring races.
“We are working very hard for this series. Since 1998 pa this series [This series has been running since 1998],” he added.
The races will feature race-modified cars of various brands driven by the country’s top racecar drivers. Berjaya Auto Philippines, the exclusive distributor of Mazda vehicles in the country, is fielding a Mazda2 to be driven by multi-awarded touring car race driver Edwin Rodriguez.
The event features four different race classes – GT-300, GT-200, GT-150 and GT-100 – of which the numbers connote the maximum horsepower a racecar is allowed in each class.
Willie Torres is the defending GT-300 champion, Patrick Dela Rosa the 2015 GT-200 champion while his younger brother Richmon last year’s GT-150 champion. Ivan Diaz is the defending GT-100 champion.
Although a few of the teams competing in the GT races have sponsorships from private companies, only Berjaya Auto Philippines, the exclusive distributor of Mazda vehicles in the country, is fielding a team to participate in the series.
Rodriguez will be driving a race-prepared Mazda2 in his bid for a championship in the GT-100 class.
The six races for the Yokohama-Philippine GT Championship will be staged at the Batangas Racing Circuit and the Clark International Speedway. The Batangas racetrack, which hosted the country’s first Formula or open-wheel races in the late 1990s, has a 3.6-kilometer track while the Clark International Speedway has a 4.2-kilometer track.
Besides the Yokohama-Philippine GT Championship, Tan also organizes and stages drag, bike and karting races that are held also at the Batangas Racing Circuit and the Clark International Speedway, and the Carmona Racing Circuit.