Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted December 08, 2011 16:30
Rough and tough at Clark International Speedway
Some of the top off-road competitors from across the country stepped up to the challenge at the Clark International Speedway for the 2011 Tough Truck Challenge. The 11th edition of the annual event now hosted by 199 Off-Road House is considered an important invent in Philippine off-roading as it is the final event for the NAsFOR national series calendar.
Fifty of the country's top off-roaders brought their tough and mighty machines to challenge the off-road track in the Clark International Speedway complex. Competitors came from as far north as Batac, Ilocos Norte and as far south as General Santos, South Cotabato to prove themselves worthy of the Tough Truck Challenge. The technical track designed by Lito Joaquin was "meant to subject participants to different obstacles one might encounter in a typical trail, but with added difficulty to make things more exciting," said Ramon To-Ong of 199 Off-Road House.
In the seemingly very difficult Track A which actually swallowed more than half of the field, it was Michael Cerin of 4Wheeler Davao who set a blistering pace in the early stages of competition with a 6:32.63 time which would not be eclipsed nor challenged by anyone as he was the only competitor who managed to break the seven-minute barrier. Day two was the only time other competitors managed to bring their times down as Kampampangan Edison Dungca clocked in 7:00.38 for second and Land Cruiser Club of the Philippines' Noel Bartolome Jr. clocked 7:02.34 for a close third. Batac's Ronald Yapo clocked 8:53.84 for fourth, and Jojo Javier clocked a 9:03.30 to bring more glory for fellow Kampampangans in their hometown.
For Track B which seemed easier for competitors as more than half of the field managed to finish, it was Bong Collado and Jojo Sison of Isabela Extreme dominating the field both eclipsing the six-minute barrier clocking in at 5:09.01 and 5:19.70, respectively. Coming in third was Cerin with a 6:33.83 time, folowed by Jerry Ross Corpuz of Batac with a 6:56.38 and Romer Mariano of BRO with 6:58.02 who rounded up the top five.
Once competitors finished their elimination runs in both Tracks A and B, a new track connecting both welcomed the Top-20 competitors for the Finals. WAIG Adventure Bukidnon's Reynan Jayme decided to go all out as he became the top NAsFOR Driver of the Year contender with points leader Timtom Gempesaw absent from competition and nearest rival Red Diwa of Isabela Extreme failing to make it to the Top-20. Jayme clocked in at 7:13.52 to take the best time for Track C. Bong Collado, who was fresh from setting the top time in Track B clocked in only 3 seconds shy at 7:16.51.
Bartolome Jr. wanted to make history of being the only father-and-son champions of the Tough Truck Challenge (Bartolome Sr. was champion of the 2003 and 2004 TTC); put up quite an effort clocking in at 8:07.78 for third in Track C. Edison Dungca made his fellow Kampampangans proud with an 8:27.67 time for fourth putting him way ahead of Jojo Sison for a possible podium finish. But all eyes were on Cerin, who clocked an eventful 8:27.96 time for fifth in the finals.
As the dust settled, one man proved himself worthy of bringing home the Tough Truck Challenge title. It was Michael Cerin of 4Wheelers Davao bringing home the championship trophy for Tough Truck Challenge XI as well as numerous prizes from sponsors. In second was Noel Bartolome Jr. of the Land Cruiser Club of the Philippines who put up a tough fight for Cerin. Edison Dunca of the Kampampangan Off-Road Group became the local hero taking the final podium spot in third.