Following several years of producing championship-winning drivers in the Vios Cup, it looks like Toyota Balintawak's Team Obengers is setting their sights on an even bigger challenge.
Moving up the plate from touring car racing up to single seaters, the Obengers -the official team of Toyota Balintawak- have announced their intent to field a Formula V1 beginning in August. With this serious move towards a higher level of motorsports, the team will be backing star driver Daniel Miranda for the V1 campaign.
At 21 years of age, Miranda continues to hone his technique by joining the Asian Formula Renault (AFR) this year, placing 3rd at the second leg of the race as a rookie. In spite of a busy schedule shuttling back and forth from school in Sydney, Australia to flying back home to Cebu or Manila, to all around Asia for the AFR, Miranda still manages to squeeze in this Formula V1 drive for the Obengers. Talented, driven and always inspired to improve, it’s a no brainer for the Oben Group to select Miranda as their first Formula V1 driver.
"I'm very very excited!" said Miranda. "We never really had plans of doing this Formula V1 but Boss Cosco just one day texted me and [said] 'Why don’t you join the FV1? We bought a car, but we have no driver'. Of course I asked my parents, and thankfully they allowed [me to race]. Actually this year's quite busy for me since I'm doing Asian Formula Renault [alongside] V1. They're two different cars with the formula Renault being a paddle shift car while I'm now back to the H-pattern car with a clutch [on the V1]. It's more technical in a way since all the cars are the same, all the cars are equal. We all have the same weight and it’s just one track, so people who get to practice more will have an advantage."
The Obengers, or Toyota Balintawak – Obengers as they will be known at the Formula V1, is one of the first teams who joined the Toyota Vios Cup. They are part of the pioneering group that helped make Philippine racing reach a wider audience today. At the heart of the Toyota Balintawak – Obengers is Cosco Oben, president of the Oben Group of Toyota Dealerships and Team Owner of the Obengers, more known as “Boss Cosco” to his team. He is joined by Paolo Agregado, Team Manager; Mark Tejada, General Manager Toyota Balintawak; Roland Hermoso, Driver Development Coach; and Marc Soong, PR Manager.
"Joining the FV1 is a decision to challenge ourselves to level up and go the next step" says Oben. "One of the core values of the Oben Group is (being) 'driven' and we want to imbibe this value in everything we do. Not only in our business or work but also in racing."
"The plan was to join FV1 on its 2nd year, but when Coach Roland and I went to BRC to 'go see' the first race… it was better late than never," continued Oben. " I talked to some team owners, managers and coaches to inquire about running a team, budget, cost and expenses and was convinced."
"Daniel was my first choice as our FV1 driver because not only is he very talented, he embodies all the Core Values of the Oben group – a fine, young man who is driven, level-headed, respectful, humble, a team player and shows malasakit to the team. All these traits of his combined with his impressive driving skills made our decision easier," concluded Oben about their driver.
The Toyota Balintawak – Obengers will begin their Formula V1 campaign on the August leg of the series thanks to the following sponsors: Centro Manufacturing Corp., Cosco Phils Shipping Inc., RL Automotive, People’s General Insurance, Toyota Financial Services, and Wallem Shipping, with support from East West Banking Corp., Sikkens Fed Chem Marketing, Stronghold Insurance, and TMS Ship Agencies, Inc.