Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted April 29, 2011 23:26
Rodriguez takes opening round of 2011 season
The Lateral Drift Pro-Am Championships opened its 2011 season with a new format, which puts both pro and amateur division drivers together in one field. The sun-baked Clark International Speedway was the venue for the season opener, which promised high-speed exciting drift battles.
This season is made more interesting with new rulings to make competition more exciting. A new pace cone rule has been added to keep the cars closer before they enter the drifting zone. This was to make sure cars would start drifting virtually the same time.
The original plan was to start with a Top 32 tandem ladder match, however due to the lack of competitors who joined the opening round and several not being able to complete the course, the organizers decided to trim the opening tandems down in half to 16. Nearly not having a drive that day was Jason Choachuy whose car was not able to leave the its home garage after a last minute clutch failure. A last minute decision was made to borrow Atoy Llave's Rockstar A31 Cefiro.
The numbers continued to go down as casualties of the infamous engine killer loop claimed the Honda F20C powered Toyota AE86 of privateer Chukri Prieto and the Nissan Silvia S14 of Team AutoIndustriya.com/Ultra Racing's Kevin Chua. Motul-Autoplus' Francisco Blanco figured himself in a bad crash in practice disfiguring the rear end of his Nissan Silvia S13. His crew was able to fix the car to make it run again.
Qualifying on the top spot was Kevin Tayao of the Yellow Cab Drift Team. Rounding up the top-5 qualifiers were Gio Rodriguez of A-toy Customs-Glade-Falken, Alex Perez of Yellow Cab, Audel Sison of Team Autocraft, and Raymond Ronquillo of R33.
Decking it out in the Top-16 tandems were Kevin Tayao versus Boodie Dabasol; Jeff Villanueva versus Atoy Llave; Francisco Blanco versus Fern C Racing's Rey Panaligan; Audel Sison versus Ralph Tan; Raymond Ronquillo versus Ryan Agoncillo; Alex Perez versus RJ Obiedo; Jason Choachuy versus Jayson Lao; Gio Rodriguez versus Paolo Agregado.
Advancing to the Top-8 were Dabasol, Llave, Blanco, Sison, Ronquillo, Perez, Choachuy and Rodriguez. Dabasol aboard his Nissan Silvia S14 squared off against Llave in the Rockstar 1JZ-GTE powered Nissan A31 Cefiro and took the win in two runs. Blanco, who not having the best of luck broke one of his driveshafts handing over the win to Sison aboard his 1JZ-GTE powered Nissan Silvia S13. Ronquillo aboard his Nissan Skyline R33 pulled another upset on Perez in his Nissan Silvia S13 equipped with an Autoplus-built SR20DET; he pressured hard on the champion to eventually take the win. After a masterful first run by Choachuy against Rodriguez aboard the Atoy R33 Skyline-clad Cefiro; a costly mistake handed over the win to Rodriguez as Choachuy tucked in behind Rodriguez before the pace cone as race officials penalized him severely.
It was an interesting match-up for the Top-4 as the pairings were not the usual. Dabasol, who drove masterfully the whole day squared off against Sison, while Ronquillo was paired against Rodriguez. It was an exciting exchange between Dabasol and Sison, who even had to do a "One More Time" before the judges finally decided that Sison would advance to the finals, while Dabasol would battle for third. Ronquillo meanwhile gave Rodriguez a run for his money, sticking his car as close as possible also calling for a "One More Time". Rodriguez would eventually get the win thanks to a mistake by Ronquillo.
Battle for Third: Dabasol versus Ronquillo
Dabasol managed to outdrive Ronquillo in a fierce match to take the final podium spot.
Championship: Rodriguez versus Sison
It was a hard-fought duel between Rodriguez and Sison for the top prize, but the "Wonderboy" proved that he had more tricks under his sleeve as he defeated Sison after a "One More Time".