Isuzu Philippines Corp. has wrapped up the first leg of the three-stage Isuzu Challenge, after an NHR light-duty truck ran a total of 972.4 kilometers from Pagudpud to Naga City from May 26 to 27. A contestant of the mileage-guessing-game contest, Amelita Sison Fernandez, submitted 967.9 kilometers, which was the closest figure to the final result. She thus wins a brand-new unit of the Isuzu NHR truck, with taxes fully paid by IPC.

With Automobile Association Philippines' Domingo Escarieses and Jeffrey Lapig respectively tasked with driving and navigating duties, the NHR was flagged off at the Pagudpud Arch by IPC president Ryoji Yamazaki and IPC executive vice president Yuki Kato at exactly 6:30 a.m. of May 26. Only the driver and the navigator were inside the truck during the trip, with two 50-kilogram sacks on-board to simulate actual driving conditions. The air-conditioning system was also left on for the entire duration of the trip, and the average traveling speed was 60-80 kilometers per hour. The pair stopped for lunch, dinner and restroom breaks.

The NHR ultimately came to a halt in Barangay Del Rosario in Naga City on May 27. The 972.4-kilometer travel distance meant the NHR yielded an impressive 12.965 kilometers for every liter of Caltex Diesel with Techron D under normal driving conditions. This is more difficult than usual fuel-economy runs wherein extreme fuel-efficiency tricks are employed. The road conditions were a mix of provincial and highway roads, with city-traffic congestion encountered in Pangasinan, Tarlac, Metro Manila, Laguna and Batangas.

The result was verified by Rommel Millora, the director of Transport and Traffic Consultants Inc. He is also the director of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines, as well as a member of Eastern Asia Society for Transport Studies.

The Isuzu NHR is powered by a 2.8-liter, 91ps four-cylinder direct injection diesel engine with turbo intercooler that is now Euro 2-compliant. The N-Series trucks have been number one in the light-duty truck segment in the Philippines since 1999. Even in foreign markets, the N-Series has been a consistent commercial success since its first introduction in 1959. Customers particularly like its durability, reliability, fuel-efficiency and low maintenance costs, making it the perfect partner for any kind of business.

"We conceptualized the Isuzu Challenge in 2002 because we wanted to showcase the industry-leading fuel economy of our vehicles," said Yamazaki. "The recently concluded first leg of the 2010 Isuzu Challenge further confirms what we've been telling the commercial-vehicle market all these years-that Isuzu vehicles are very reliable and fuel-efficient."

The last two rounds of the Isuzu Challenge will be held on July 14 to 17 for the Crosswind, and on October 20 to 24 for the D-MAX. The guessing periods for these rounds are April 1 to July 13 and August 1 to October 19, respectively. Participants need only to guess the exact distance that the Isuzu vehicle will travel (in kilometers and down to one decimal point). The winners of the last two rounds get to win a Crosswind (second leg) and a D-Max (third leg). Simply go to and register. (Only those Filipino citizens and 18 years old and above may join the contest.)

The Isuzu Challenge is sponsored by Caltex Diesel with Techron D, and supported by Freego, JVC, AVT, Centro Manufacturing Corp., Home Depot, Smartlink, Matabungkay Beach Resort, Monde Nissin Corporation, Magnolia Fruit Drink and Health Tea Beverages, Philippine Star, RMN (DZXL 558khz), DWIZ (882 khz), Jam (88.3), Wave (89.1), Magic (89.9), Mellow Touch (94.7), Crossover (105.1), DWRJ (100.3), Home Radio (97.9), NU Rock (107), DWRT (99.5) and Max (103.5).