SHEER enjoyment and satisfaction—these were what the chief of Toyota Motor Phils. (TMP) said describe his experience at the first staging of the Toyota Vios Cup that was recently held at the Clark International Speedway.
The Vios Cup is a one-make race series open to non-professional race drivers. TMP launched the series’ exhibition races in January. These were participated in by celebrities and journalists, some of whom had also joined the first leg.
The celebrities that saw action in the Vios Cup’s first leg were Phoemela Baranda, Rhian Ramos, Dominic Ochoa, Sam YG, Jinno Rufino and Fabio Ide.
Held in between the two heated races that composed the first leg were a meet-and-greet session with and a driving exhibition from Keiichi Tsuchiya—known as Japan’s “Drift King.”
In an interview, TMP President Michinobu Sugata said that he is honored to have been one of the catalysts in reviving the racing scene in the Philippines.
“It actually feels great that Toyota Motor Phils. took the lead in bringing back motor sports in the country. Although it may not be completely new, it’s been quite a while since Filipinos last experienced something like this. I feel very much humbled that the general public will again experience such fun through the Toyota Vios Cup,” he said.
Sugata said he is satisfied and pleased to see that many people have attended the first leg of the Vios Cup.
“Our dream of bringing back motor sports on the map has been captured. Many thanks to our sponsors, JP Tuason, TRD Japan, various Toyota car clubs, our dealers, our racers, our media friends, the Filipino celebrities, and the supporters of this one-make race,” Sugata said.
“With almost 8,000 spectators coming over to the event, it is clear that Filipinos love this kind of recreation or sport,” he added.
The TMP chief also said that the Vios Cup fulfilled its target of gaining awareness regarding the Vios’s capacity in motor sports.
“The Vios—a locally assembled model—proved to be a competitive and reliable racecar. Despite the fierce punishment it took from the many twists and turns, high-speed driving and hard braking on the track, the Vios performed well as a racecar,” Sugata said.
TMP will hold the Vios Cup in July and in October, with Sugata urging more participants to join the race series.
Jason Choachoy, Allan Uy and 15-year-old Luis Gono were the top podium finishers in the first leg of the Vios Cup, with Gono clinching pole position in the first of the two scheduled races.
In the first heat, Choachoy took the top spot, followed by Gono. Uy ended in third place. But Gono—a champion karter and multi-awarded drift racer—was meted a penalty after having been repeatedly forced to come in contact with Choachoy, who had blocked the former’s numerous attempts to overtake. The 10-place grid position penalty meant Gono had to start the second race on 12th spot instead of being in the front row.
Gono said that he accepted the reprimand.
“I really want to show my fellow racers my professionalism in motor sports, as well as my trust and respect toward the sport’s appointed governing body, Automobile Association Phils. Most important, I do not want to disappoint TMP in its endeavor at reviving Philippine motor sports,” he said.
In the second race, Gono stuck to his race strategy and, by the fifth lap, had already climbed up to third place—the position he finished the race. Uy clinched the top spot while Choachoy trailed.
The results put Choachoy on top of the points standings with Gono in close second.
“Gono showed his commitment and sportsmanship at a young age,” said Cosco Oben, chief of Team Toyota North Edsa-Autoplus, under which banner Gono belongs.