The 2003 Caltex Delo 4x4 Extreme Series held its opener at Pueblo de Oro in Cagayan de Oro City hosted by the CDO Off-Road Club led by club president Agustin Macmang. The big guns of off-roading in the Philippines competed in the event proving to be a successful start for the 4-leg series. The participants came from as far as Isabela in Northern Luzon represented by the Santiago Extreme 4x4 Club, Angeles 4x4 Club from Central Luzon, and the Manila Off-Roaders, Suzuki Club, and Land Cruiser Club representing Manila. The Visayas region was represented by the Cebu Off-Roaders and Bacolod Off-Roaders. Last but not the least, the Mindanao group were represented by the hometown team CDO Off-road Club, Bukidnon Offroaders. GenSan Offroaders, Gen San 4x4 Fun Club, 4-Wheelers Dadiangas, Mt. Apo Off Roaders Association, 4Wheelers Davao, and Eagle Off-roaders.
A total of 45 competitors came the extremely challenging track which featured rock crawling, mud pits, v-canals, log crossing, high-flying jumps, table-tops with boulders and various obstacles. Each competitor had to negotiate two tracks in 15-minutes each. Some managed to conquer both tracks, some unlucky ones managed to finish only one and some were utterly defeated by the course and failing to finish both. The top 20 participants of the elimination round would then go on to run in Track C, which was a combination of both Track A and B, with the latter being the start. Take note that not all top 20 were able to finish both tracks in the elimination round, this just shows the level of difficulty of the track.
A very interesting duel between Larry Alberto of Shell Suzuki Club and Team Delo Land Cruiser Club's Noel Bartolome who both failed to finish in Track A, but rebounded with spectacular runs in Track B landing them in the finals. With 15-seconds between the two going to Track C, Alberto pulled off a solid performance garnering the second best time, more than 2-minutes ahead of Bartolome who had a repeat encounter with the rock crawling section that ended his Track A run. Alberto took 15th spot as Bartolome settled one spot lower at 16th.
"In 4x4 racing, there is no such thing as consistent performance every race and series domination as the track conditions change within the competition," said Peter Go of 4Wheelers Davao. True to it that even some of the 'big guns' of 4x4 racing were swallowed up by the track in the elimination rounds, while some in the final round. The likes of Brian Diaz, Larry Alberto, Noel Bartolome, Larry Mendiola, Timtom Gempesaw, Agustin Macmang, and Joel Miranda failed to land in the top 10, furthermore some of them were not able to get through the elimination rounds.
Best time for Track A was set by Timtom Gempesaw of 4Wheelers Davao, while Track B's fastest man was Team Delo's Noel Bartolome just 15-seconds ahead of Larry Alberto. The top 20 qualifiers consisted mostly of competitors from the Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and General Santos which shows that they truly defended their turf. Qualifiers from Manila composed of different clubs but totalled to 4 competitors, which later became 3 when Richard Sy of the Manila Off-Roaders had to fly back to Manila for an urgent matter.
But the victorious Albert Monte De Ramos proved that it is not always just the best time that wins, it is all about finishing consistently on all tracks. His solid performance in both Tracks A and B landed him in the top spot after the elimination round. His Track C was an easy trek to take the gold; he finished more than a minute ahead of 2nd placer team-mate Robert Abas who also delivered a solid performance.
The top ten included finishers were led by Albert Monte De Ramos - Team Tide/Bilstein/CDO Off-Road Club (1st); Robert Abas - Team Tide/Bilstein/CDO Off-Road Club (2nd); Conrado Fernando - 4-Wheelers Dadiangas (3rd); Bobet Española - GenSan 4x4 Fun Club (4th); Joshua Chua - Bacolod Offroaders (5th); Joel Retuya - Cebu Offroaders (6th); Lee Albarece - Bukidnon Off-Roaders (7th); Joey Salangsang - GenSan 4x4 Club (8th); Cesar Daquil - 4x4 Gen San (9th); Sonny Aparente - 4-Wheelers Dadiangas (10th). The finishers received an assortment of prizes which ranged from car batteries, High-Lift jacks, a Warn winch, a set of Bilstein shocks, Caltex DELO Gold, to a set of AWC Wheels and Simex tires.
The event was supported by Caltex DELO, Simex Tires, Motolite, Trixx Off Road, Bilstein, Warn by Ride, 199 Offroad House, and many other sponsors.