Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted November 18, 2004 12:00
Monte de Ramos claims back to back victory for 3rd and 4th legs
The Caltex Delo Sports National 4x4 Extreme Series culminated at the Fort Bonifacio Global City for the fourth and final leg which was hosted by the Suzuki 4x4 Club of the Philippines. It had the biggest turnout in the series with 54 participants from off-road clubs across the nation.
Coming in with a comfortable lead in the Driver of the Year Championship was 2002 Driver of the Year Timtom Gempesaw of the 4Wheelers Davao who had a clear 72-point lead over second seed Richard Emano and 74-points over third seed Albert Monte De Ramos, who is still fresh from his 3rd leg victory which catapulted him to his current position. With Richard Emano still unable to join due to vehicle repairs, it was evident that it would be an uphill battle as Monte de Ramos challenges Gempesaw for the championship.
The seemingly long and treacherous track proved to be only intimidating as more than half of the competitors managed to finish with the right technique and a little patience. Those who couldn't wait had early retirements as they either damaged parts of their vehicles or got stuck in carefully set traps of the track. The obstacles were composed of rock crawling, deep water crossing, mud pits, tire pit, table tops, v-canal, chocolate hills and uneven potholes. As with the other legs, teamwork is a key to success in this kind of competition.
In the longer but easier to manage Track A, it was third leg champion Albert Monte de Ramos from the Cagayan de Oro Off-Road Club who was still on a roll after his victory coming on top of the timesheets with a time of 1:42.13. Coming in second was Larry Mendiola of the Land Cruiser Club with a time of 1:46.94. Gilbert Maningas of the Del Monte 4Wheelers followed in third with a 1:52.85 elapsed time. Taytay Adventure 4x4's Avel delas Alas came in fourth with 1:53.80, while Nestor Policarpio of the Del Monte 4Wheelers rounded up the top five finishers with a time of 1:54.14.
On the very technical Track B, Timtom Gempesaw of 4Wheelers Davao made his mark setting the best time and adding 20 more points to his driver championship standing. His time of 2:12.16 was more than five seconds enough to edge Monte De Ramos who clocked in at 2:17.92. Coming in third was Michael Cerin also of 4Wheelers Davao, clocking in at 2:22.52. Team Delo/LCCP's Noel Bartolome Sr. clocked in at 2:25.44 for fourth position, while Larry Mendiola finished with a time of 2:30.06 to round up the top five finishers for the treacherous Track B.
However the highlight of Track B was not only the fastest times set by the top qualifiers, it was the run of Arthur Azcuna of the Suzuki 4x4 Club, who was the first to finish after four drivers who failed to finish. Azcuna drives only with his hands through specially prepared controls because of his paralysis waist down. He is one of the two handicapped drivers to compete in the event.
If both tracks wasn't hard enough for the Top 20 qualifiers, the organizers had something under their sleeves as they decided a combination of both tracks as Track C for the final round of the competition. Being in the Top 20 meant that these individuals are the creme de la creme among the competitors and they do take off-roading seriously. That is why they have come to realize that it is not all about brawns, but proper technique and execution. Sixteen of the top twenty qualifiers managed to finish 10 minutes and under.
Showing the way was Timtom Gempesaw, went for the gold clocking in at a blistering 4:15.33. Doing equally impressive was his teammate Michael Cerin who clocked a 4:19.07 which was good enough to get him second place in the final standings. Albert Monte De Ramos who was having a good race ended his day with a big smile coming in third clocking 4:30.85 garnering him a time impossible to beat. A formidable Larry Mendiola came in fourth clocking 4:54.71 securing himself of a top three final standing. Jerry Diaz of the Del Monte 4Wheelers rounded up the top five who finished under 5-minutes with a time of 4:56.17.
The Top 5 total scores came out and it was CDO Off-Road Club's Albert Monte De Ramos whose solid performance in Tracks A and B giving him a back-to-back win in the 3rd and 4th legs. Michael Cerin who had a very consistent finish for Tracks B and C garnered his second overall. Larry Mendiola took third overall, while Timtom Gempesaw despite a stellar performance for Tracks B and C only made it to fourth overall with his time pulled down by a dismal Track A time, but he still walks away with more than enough championship points in the Driver of the Year standings. Rounding up the top five winners was Neil Andaya of the San Jose Off-Roaders who made consistent runs despite not being in the top five standings or all tracks.
A Federation Shootout was held after the race wherein NAsFOR member clubs each fielded a member to compete for a cash prize which was donated by each club and generous benefactors. The prize for this event's winner was a Globe Handyphone Prepaid Phonekit and over twenty thousand pesos in cold cash! Nine clubs competed in the shootout each fielding their best representative. The track used for the shootout was Track B, the rules were simple, winner takes all. First to run was 4Wheelers Davao's Peter Go almost had it in his hands when he set a time of 2:57 which was almost unbeaten until Richard Emano of the Cagayan De Oro Off-Road Club shattered it with a 2:30.50 nearing the end of the competition. But a turn of events would have Homer Dunca of Land Cruiser Club Pampanga, emerging as the winner being the last to run with an exclamation point as he timed in at 2:21.38. Dunca is the other handicapped driver being mute, showed that being handicapped is not a deterrent in off-roading if one is determined to succeed.