Over seventy off-roaders from across the country came to partake in the 2004 Tough Truck Challenge at the Bonifacio Global City. Considered as the most prestigious stand-alone off-road event, the Tough Truck Challenge, organized by the Manila Off-Roaders Inc. (MORI) on its Fourth Year drew thousands of off-road and motorsport aficionados to its massive racetrack for this year's three-day off-road festival.
It was one of the biggest upsets in off-road racing as greenhorn Gilbert Maningas of the Del Monte 4 Wheelers, who has only been competing for four months, took home the plum against some of the best off-roaders in the country including two-time NAsFOR Driver of the Year Timtom Gempesaw of 4Wheelers Davao and two-time Tough Truck Challenge Champion Noel Bartolome of the Land Cruiser Club of the Philippines.
For this year's Tough Truck Challenge, track designer Lito Joaquin came up with a technical track that could accommodate both big and small trucks. "We had to put into consideration that not all our participants will be driving big trucks with monster tires. We had to make sure that everyone who joined will be as competitive," quipped Joaquin.
Highlight obstacles in Track A was the extremely deep v-canal which showed the insides of every truck, rock crawl, the mud pit, the Goodyear tirepit which managed to slow down some of the better competitors. The track was finished off by a series of chocolate hills just before the finish line.
Fastest on Track A and proving once again that disability does not slow one down but only makes one stronger was deaf-mute driver Omer Dungca of the LCCP-Pampanga with a neck-breaking 1:46.19. Noel Bartolome made a brave effort but was three and a half seconds shy of Dungca's time at 1:49.47. The third fastest was Gerry Evangelista of the Science City Off-Roaders with 1:53.68.
Highlight obstacle in Track B was the Gillette Razor Sharp Turn which was perfected by only one driver out of seventy with one swift turn. The obstacle was followed by a 'stairway to heaven' followed by the Silverwind rock pit, then towards the Caltex Delo table-top finished by the Lito Joaquin log bridge which claimed several victims as they tried to speed through the obstacle just before the finish line. Frontrunners for Track B were Avel delas Alas of the Taytay 4x4 Extreme with 2:00.80. Gilbert Maningas edged LCCP's Larry Mendiola by 0.15 seconds with a 2:10.60 against Mendiola's 2:10.75.
Track B was considered to be the more difficult track as many competitors failed to finish it and the best elapsed time for the track did not break the two-minute barrier. Teenage driver Hirryan Mendiola, son of Larry Mendiola took home the Gillette Razor Sharp award for negotiating the Gillette Razor Sharp Turn with one swift turn.
The Top 20 times of Tracks A and B combined went on to compete in Track C. As the tabulations were completed, it was Avel delas Alas on top of the leaderboard going into the final round. Track C was a combination of Tracks and A and B ran in reverse mode with the starting line in Track A. This made drivers totally confused as they had to make their calculations now in reverse mode. But still, some drivers did not find it too difficult as many still finished under five minutes. Top runner delas Alas unfortunately fell victim to the LS Joaquin log bridge which rendered him an early retirement from the race.
Track C top finisher was Noel Bartolome who had all eyes on him as everybody wanted to beat the defending champion, Bartolome completed the track at a blazingly fast 3:46.36. Gilbert Maningas did it almost two seconds shy by finishing with a time of 3:48.24 which was more than enough to send him to the top of the leaderboard. The third best time was clocked by Larry Mendiola who did an endo coming down from the tabletop finishing at 4:14.78 taking him to second overall. Rounding up the top five finishers were Albert Monte de Ramos of the CDO Off-Road Club and Timtom Gempesaw of the 4Wheelers Davao Association Inc., in fourth and fifth respectively.
The Final Top Ten Standings are as follows: 1st - Gilbert Maningas - Del Monte 4Wheelers; 2nd - Larry Mendiola - Angeles City 4Wheelers; 3rd- Omer Dunca - LCCP-Pampanga; 4th - Noel Bartolome - LCCP; 5th - Albert Monte de Ramos - CDO Off-Road Club; 6th - Larry Alberto - Suzuki 4x4 Club; 7th - Hirryan Mendiola -LCCP; 8th - Jessie Tancungco - PORCI; 9th - Timtom Gempesaw - 4Wheelers Davao Assocation Inc., 10th - Joel Miranda - Santiago Extreme4x4.
The event also featured an exhibit area featuring manufacturers like Nissan and Hyundai with their latest vehicles, and various automotive products from sponsors like Caltex Delo, Goodyear, Bilstein, Malayan Insurance, Car Vio, Racing Ravano, Smart Bikes, and AutoIndustriya.com. Other products were also displayed by Gillette, Oral-B, and Binondo Media Publication.
The 2004 Tough Truck Challenge was presented by Caltex DELO, in cooperation with Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation, Goodyear, Campershells, 199 Off-Road House, Ride Inc., Malayan Insurance, Gillette, Oral-B, Silverwind, Warn, Du Pont, Bilstein, Racing Ravano, Downey Off-Road Mfg., Downey Davao, Calmini, Nissan Gallery, Hyundai Makati, Mother's, Ironhorse Bikes, Trix Off-Road Cagayan De Oro, Car Vio, HPI 4x4 Kits, Smart Bikes, Xenon Bulbs, Waling Waling Beach Hotel Boracay, Explorer ProComp, Rancho, Safari Snorkels, Car Options, LS Joaquin Auto Interiors, 4x4 Magazine, Mabuchi Trading, Auto Express, Subic Megatrading, Mark's Trucks, LCA General Merchandising, Motorcraft Service Shop, 105.1 Crossover, Monster Radio RX93.1, Auto Extreme, AutoIndustriya.com, Auto Review, The Philippine Star, and the Manila Times.