Round 3 of Vios Cup season 2 saw racing action return to Manila. The tough 1.6 kilometer track at the SM Mall of Asia bayside area featured sharp turns, tight chicanes and short straights, making overtaking even more challenging. When the dust settled, karters swept the first three positions in the Sporting Class and Miguel Diaz showed his dominance over the promotional Class.
In qualifying, karters swept the top three positions with Toyota Alabang's Estefano Rivera taking pole position. Posting the second fastest time is another karter, Allan Uy of Toyota Quezon Avenue. Rounding up the top three qualifiers was Rivera's team mate, Andres Calma.
Rivera made good use of his pole position by getting a good launch off the line. Allan Uy however did not get as good of a launch as Calma and Bobby Domingo, dropping him to fourth. By the first chicane, Rivera and Calma kept their bumpers clean as the rest of the field did their best to squeeze through the tight chicane. In his bid to stay in third place, Domingo was punted from the rear but was able to carry on. As the field got scattered with lapped cars, Allan Uy did his best to recapture third. However, with limited room for the lapped cars to move over, he had to settle for fourth.
Uy however posted the fastest time for the race clocking in at 54.687 seconds. For the first heat in the sporting class, Toyota Alabang swept the first three spots with Estefano Rivera taking the win with Andres Calma jumping one spot to claim second and Bobby Domingo's battle scarred Vios crossing the line third.
At the end of the first heat, penalties for causing collisions were handed out to Charlie Cojuanco (Toyota Dagupan), Pauland Dumlao (Toyota San Fernando), Dominic Ochoa (Toyota Quezon Avenue) and Raymond Ronquillo (Toyota Balintawak). The four drivers received a one-position grid penalties while Daniel Miranda, with his door resembling a crushed can, was demoted two positions from where he finished along with a 30 second penalty. The heaviest penalty for the first heat was given to Harold Ong who was disqualified for ignoring the flags waved by the marshals.
The second race for the Sporting Class saw more contact among the drivers. Apart from the bottleneck that slowed the whole field down, a heavy shunt between Daniel Miranda and Pauland Dumlao left the latter with a damaged front suspension. Bryan Co also had to retire from the race after a run in with Steve Bicknell. The collision left Co with broken suspension and steering. Because of the incidents, the second head was under the safety car for almost half of the race. It was also not a good day for Allan Uy, with a broken ball joint causing him to crash out exiting the chicane.
At the end of 14 laps, Estefano Rivera emerged victorious with Daniel Miranda in second. It was a close fight for third between Bobby Domingo and Raymond Ronquillo. The two were bumper to bumper and never more than two tenths of a second away from each other. Ronquillo shadowed every move Domingo made but the latter drove defensively in the remaining laps. Domingo was able to hold off Ronquillo to finish in third. Like the first heat, the second race saw a trio of karters take the podium.
Toyota Alabang's Miguel Diaz showed dominance in the promotional Class as early as qualifying. Diaz clinched pole position followed by Sherwin Hing from Toyota Quezon Avenue qualifying second and Toyota Cebu's Lord Seno wraps up the top three qualifiers. Also in the promotional Class was Toyota Motor Philippines president Michinobu Sugata. After qualifying, Sugata was able to post the fourth fastest time for the session, showing the field that he takes the practice sessions and the Vios Cup program seriously.
Diaz ran a clean race, getting a big lead on Sherwin Hing, who suffered a poor start. Lord Send tried his best to catch up to Diaz but Seno was too far ahead to launch an attack for the lead. Throughout the race, Seno was defending his second spot from Edwin Yu Lee and Alexis Salvador. In a bid to snatch third from Yu Lee, Salvador clipped a part of the chicane which then led to a puncture. Salvador, now trying to salvage a fourth place finish, then hit the outside barrier slowing him down even more. He eventually finished in 16th. The race was drama free for Diaz, winning the race by 2.7 seconds. Lord Seno finished second with JV Ejercito in third, his first podium finish in Vios Cup.
In the second heat, Diaz found himself being chased by Alexis Salvador throughout the race. Salvador, who had suffered a puncture in the first heat, was challenging Diaz by pressuring him to go wide into the corners. On a few occasions, Diaz was fishtailing out of the chicanes, pushing the car hard to gain some distance from Salvador. There were a few times Salvador had a peek for an overtake but Diaz was able to hold off the youngster for the win with Salvador in tow for second place.
Another close race was happening between TMP President Michinobu Sugata, JV Ejercito and Paolo Rodriguez. The three were nose to tail from start to end. Like the race for the lead, the two drivers mounted pressure on to Sugata for the last podium position. Throughout the race, the three were never more than a second away from each other. Sugata however was able to hold off Ejercito and Rodriguez to snatch third. The third place finish saw a big smile and a thumbs up from the president of TMP.
Sam YG and Phoemela Baranda continue to be the fastest celebrities of the Vios Cup. Sam YG racked up yet another pole this season with Phomela Baranda qualifying second. Jinno Rufino qualified third.
For the first heat, Sam YG's lead didn't stay for long as he suffered engine trouble forcing him to retire. The lead was quickly taken by Baranda who then pulled away from Jinno Rufino and Fabio Ide. Joyce Pring was able to bring home the car in fourth. Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Kylie Padila both had heavy shunts for that race but were able to walk away unharmed.
With his car repaired, Sam YG started on pole and stayed there throughout the race. Lap after lap, the gap between him and Baranda grew further, giving Sam YG a comfortable lead and a win. Jinno Rufino finished the second heat in third. Fabio Ide had a dramatic crash where he found himself resting on top of the crash barrier. Like the incidents of Curtis-Smit and Padilla, he walked away unharmed.
With the third round completed, Toyota was able to bring back racing in the streets of Manila once again. Toyota, headed by Sugata-san, are doing their best in making Filipinos enjoy racing once again. Sugata-san regularly goes to the practices, showing his dedication to the program and, hopefully, we'll be watching more of the exciting one make series in the future.