Subaru vs Mini: Great rally duel!

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MIKE POTENCIANO

(Part 1)
With no time to practice and adjust to our local time, my partner forever Lindy Pellicer and I joined our Mini Team to defend our last year’s championship in the 2017 STV Auto Rally Corporate Cup last month.

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With all the great memories produced every rally, here’s our inside story on how our 2017 STV Duel went!

Champion Mini team
We had a long stay in the US and just made it back to our shores 2 days before the rally. Our Mini car #5 was the new Cooper S Clubman 6-door version and was a very good car for this event. It had the extra passenger doors plus the 200+ hp engine in a compact body.

We were again with our 2016 Asian Gymkhana Champion driver Milo Rivera, who drove for us when we won the STV Rally last year. Lindy was our route Navigator and I was the hard-pressed time navigator. Aside from being jet lagged, Lindy also lost her glasses during the US trip and had only reading glasses for the rally, which was not ideal in our event.

Completing our 4 car 2017 Mini Team was car 16 of Estefano Rivera/Alain Solivet/Henry Buenconsejo, car 27 with Stuart Samson/Charles Tan/Alex Layson, and car 35 Jojo Uligan/Rommel Regino/Noli Gusi.

The hard thing to do after winning last year was to duplicate it again this year. Some of our crew was no longer available and one had to cancel last minute. Our Subic local karting friend Alex Layson was drafted a few hours before the event because of this. A lot of the team members were so busy that we weren’t able to practice. This was not a good start.

Hungry Subaru team
The main competitor since before was the Subaru Team that used to run the Mini Team before our time. After last year’s debacle that lost one of their cars due to technical problems, they were out in force to avenge their defeat. They had a well-honed and highly motivated 3-car team that would surely be out to take the championship.

The 2017 Mini Team poses for a photo during the STV Auto Rally. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Subaru’s first car had veterans Eric Valera, M Aurelio and Cunanay in car 2. Comebacking champion Raffy David, karting veteran Dennis Ayuyao and Aurick Go were in car 24 while equal champions Monch Gupit, Carlo Villanueva and Jan Gomez were in car 13. This line-up was not an easy team to beat and we knew it would be hard for us to win the championship without much practice.

The other 30+ cars and teams were all eager to go and I guess they had their sights on both top teams. However, a lot of good rallyists were missing and looked like the new generation will be the ones carrying the mantle for the other teams. In rallying, it is never over till the checkered flag drops and more so with this kind of event!

‘And we’re off!’
Going to the start venue, Harbor Point at SBMA, Olongapo City, the participants were greeted with a huge traffic jam caused by an overturned dump truck along NLEX. This caused the STV Rally to be delayed as more than half of the field was still out.

The event was blessed with sunny weather and would be a great compliment to a different format. With Rally organizer George Ramirez always giving the participants something new, he made the event with only 1 leg instead of 2. That means we will run almost 160 kms with no break, even for our bio needs! The enormous problem of this format wasn’t obvious at the start but soon played havoc on all participants.

Since we started late past 10am, traffic in the base was at full swing on a Saturday. The base has turned into a great haven for local tourists and trucks that ferry commercial goods. So when we were flagged off, the queue up Tipo Road was really long and slow. With an average speed of about 50 kph, this was going to be impossible to follow!

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