With 30 cars and drivers on the grid, the inaugural race of the 2014 Toyota Vios Cup season promised plenty of racing action for the fans in attendance. Five celebrities took the the grid as well as five media personalities. Various Toyota dealer racing teams were ready to compete, fielding multiple cars and supporting privateers. The atmosphere around the dealer pits mimicked that of a professional racing team as they compete for pride and prestige.
Qualifying Time Trials
(To see the full QTT report, click here)
In the Vios Cup class 15 year old Luis Gono (#17) topped the timesheets on Friday, May 23 to take pole position (P1) with a blistering time of 2:27.511, 0.702 seconds faster than Jason Choachuy (#37) in P2 and Basti Escalante (#77) in P3. The top three drivers were all racing under the banner of the group of Toyota Balintawak, Otis, North Edsa and Marilao). Choachuy was the lead driver of the AutoIndustriya.com Drift Team.
Model Phoemela Baranda bested the celebrities and the media in qualifying by setting a time of 2:31.220 for P12. In the Media Division, Christopher Kho of Time Attack Manila took the lead with a time of 2:31.323 for P13.
The 2014 Toyota Vios Cup had 30 cars on the grid, making it officially the largest starting grid of any AAP/FIA sanctioned motor race in the Philippine motorsport history.
Race 1: Choachuy takes the win
With the largest ever grid, anything could happen. All thirty cars made a clean launch when the 5 lights went out, signifying the start of the 12 lap race. Gono made a slightly quicker start on the racing line than Choachuy who was on the dirty side of the track, though the latter was able to take the lead at the end of the turn one/corkscrew complex of the Clark International Speedway. Basti Escalante was able to also retain his third spot.
Gono then proceeded to apply pressure on the leader which, incidentally, was also his teammate under the Toyota Balintawak group. The battle between the two racers resulted in contact that ripped out the righthand side portion of Choachuy's bumper which he dragged for several laps before it flew off to the side of the track. Choachuy took the win with Gono just 1.260 seconds behind.
Escalante fought to defend his position from hard charging Allan Uy (#26), but the latter was able to pass him for the final podium spot, thereby completing his jump from his P8 qualifying spot to finish P3. Escalante would finish in P4 while Inaki Araneta (#23) likewise made up several spots to finish in P5. Carlos Castaneda (#69) dropped down a spot to P6 while Carlos Loinaz (#44) dropped down from P4 to P7 early on.
Actor Dominic Ochoa (#25) was racing for Toyota Quezon Avenue and not the celebrity division and likewise finished in P8, overtaking Charlie Cojuangco (#99) who retained his P9 starting spot. Rounding out the top 10 is Pauland Dumlao (#28) racing for the Toyota Dagupan/La Union/Baguio group.
Of note was the performance of Bryan Co (#55) who -after his qualifying time was excluded due to a rule violation (ride height)- was able to leapfrog a total of 16 cars to get from P29 and finish in P13.
In the media division, TimeAttackManila's Christopher Kho passed celebrity Phoemela Baranda. Kho finished in P12 with Baranda just 4.416 seconds behind in P14. Both drivers would win in their respective divisions for media and celebrities.
As with the exhibition race last January 25, the finishing order of the first race will determine the grid positions in the second race.
Race 2: Uy takes the win, Choachuy penalized
After an investigation of Race 1 in the timing booth with the AAP officials, the contact involving Choachuy and Gono resulted in a 10 place grid penalty for the 15 year old. Gono started from P12.
When the 5 red lights went out, Choachuy got off the line clean, followed by Uy, Escalante, Araneta, Loinaz and a resurgent Gono who was able to fight his way to P6 from his penalty at P12 after just half a lap. Escalante would later enter the pits after a mechanical problem with his car prevented him from completing the race; he would be the only retirement of the race.
When the lead pack entered the back straight, Allan Uy made a daring dive on Choachuy to take the lead. Choachuy likewise pulled a move on Uy and was able to retake the position, but race stewards determined that Choachuy had overtaken the leader under yellow flags when AutoCar's Ira Panganiban's car (#2) got trapped at the gravel on the outside of the first corner.
Choachuy would later be penalized for failing to give back the position, handing the victory for Race 2 to Allan Uy even though Choachuy crossed the line first.
True to form, Gono completed his charge from P12 to finish in P3 for the final podium spot. In P4 is Inaki Araneta followed by Actor Dominic Ochoa in P5, Carlos Loinaz in P6, Pauland Dumlao in P7, Bryan Co in P8, Charlie Cojuangco in P9 and Carlos Castaneda in P10.
Christopher Kho proved to be the quickest of the media drivers finishing in P12 overall while 6.676 seconds behind was Phoemela Baranda, proving herself to be the best of the celebrity drivers.
The championship race
Based on the results of Race 1 and 2, Jason Choachuy now leads the standings followed by Allan Uy and Luis Gono.
Toyota Motor Philippines has yet to announce the next leg of the Toyota Vios Cup 2014 Season. Given the show that the 30 drivers gave the crowds, the season is going to be an exciting one indeed.