What PH motorsports need

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Conrad M. Cariño

Conrad M. Cariño

Over the weekend in Cebu City, I witnessed firsthand the circus atmosphere the 2015 Vios Cup created in the “Queen City,” and how much support Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) poured into the second annual staging of the one-make series featuring the brand’s best-selling subcompact car.

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My best guess is TMP is pouring in between P70 million to P100 million for the staging of the 2015 Vios Cup, because the race-prepared cars alone cost P1.70 million but were sold to teams at a discounted price of P1.17 million. And I counted no less than 40 cars participating in two classes of the series, which has four legs with two races each.

As I expected, the intensity of the 2015 Vios Cup did not measure up to the races I witnessed at Subic from the early to late 1990s. Well, that is understandable because the Vios Cup was about developing new talents. Also, the races at Subic, which were made possible by the almost selfless devotion of the late Pocholo Ramirez and his son Georges and some other motorsports crazy people, featured a good number of veterans, many of them daredevils (no kidding) in their own right.

When journalists that covered the Vios Cup in Cebu City leg were brought a day before the races at the area where the teams parked their racecars or the paddocks area, it was obvious much of the sponsorship money the teams and the series get are from brands and companies related to the car industry—Toyota dealerships, Brembo, AVT (car navigation systems), Bridgestone tires, Rota alloy rims, and Denso. Well, one racecar had the ad of Victoria Court on its hood.

Although Toyota and its dealers may be more than willing to shell out tons of cash for the continuous staging of the Vios Cup in the next two to five years, big companies not involved directly in the manufacture or marketing of vehicles should eventually develop interest in funding teams and support the event itself. And how many firms in the Philippines are registering net incomes amounting to billions of pesos? Lots of them—the SM Group; Ayala Corporation; DM Consunji; Century Properties; Jollibee Food Corporation; the Lopez business empire; Manila Electric Co.; Petron Corp.; Shell Philippines; Smart Communications; Globe Telecoms; and more. Just choose the 50 top firms listed at the Philippine Stock Exchange.

TMP President Michinobu Sugata told me “graduates” of the Vios Cup would eventually have to race with more powerful cars like the Toyota Altis. Though he did not state about TMP readying an Altis Cup soon, it makes sense the top drivers of the Vios Cup eventually compete at a higher level with more powerful race-prepared cars like the Altis.

But given the millions of pesos needed to purchase one race-prepared Vios and run it for at least eight races in the 2015 season, imagine how much is needed to acquire and run a more expensive Altis race-prepared car? I estimate an Altis race-prepared car could cost more than P2 million.

But imagine if each Altis Cup team gets sponsorships amounting from P3 million to P5 million from the corporate giants that are not part of the car industry? And what if other car firms eventually get interested in participating in a multi-brand series where the teams get huge backing from firms not directly involved in the car industry? Such a move will benefit privateers, or individuals who race but are not connected with a car company.

Motorsports is a very expensive sport, but Filipinos can excel in it because there are no height and heft requirements. So imagine if corporate giants start giving massive support for local motorsports.

With domestic car sales expected to reach 500,000 units in 2020 or beyond from the 270,000 units in 2014, more car companies cannot ignore motorsports as a brand building and promotional activity. Companies not involved in the car industry should also take note of that.

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