For those who have been observing the sim racing scene in the Philippines, there has been a bit of uproar going on with the announcement of the new season of the Toyota GR Supra GT Cup.
The virtual racing series hosted by Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP), organized by Tuason Racing and supported by Toyota Motor Asia Pacific (TMAP), has been thrown into disrepute by two of its past champions: Terence Lallave (2020 GR GT Cup Sporting Class champion) and Luis Moreno (2021 GR GT Cup Sporting Class champion).
The issue stems from how Toyota decided to make the two ineligible from entering the 2022 edition. The principle is to give others a chance at moving up, and understandably the two were upset. The two highly experienced e-racers went to social media (via comments, posts, and screenshots of conversations) to air their grievances and try to get the rules changed so they too can join.
We can only imagine what was going on behind the scenes at Toyota Motor Philippines in the last few hours, but now we have a clearer picture after speaking with one of the organizers that is very familiar with the matter.
They didn't declare them ineligible to keep them out. Toyota did that so they can move them up from virtual racing to actual racing.
In a bulletin issued yesterday, Toyota stated that previous champions cannot join the GR GT Cup virtual series because they will be given a chance to join the 2022 Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup autocross challenge. That series is intermediate race between the e-sports and the full-on series such as the Vios Cup classes. Instead of going wheel to wheel, drivers race against the clock and against the times set by others.
Our insider says they were going to "invest in their racing careers" and put the two on a motorsport ladder from virtual (where they have excelled) to a time trial autocross, and then to the Vios Cup, and possibly beyond. And all champions of the GR GT Cup virtual series -possibly even the ones that did well at the different legs at dealerships- will also be considered to join.
Do well on all, and you progress up the ladder. It will be a free and heavily promoted rise up that will be sponsored by Toyota. That is actually similar to what Nissan did with the GT Academy, albeit Toyota's version is more long-term. Of course, now that two of Toyota's GR GT Cup champions have taken to social media to criticize the series, the management and specific individuals, we won't be surprised if their invitations to the next step on the ladder somehow get misplaced.
"They will always be our first two champions. There are millions of ways to resolve it, but they did the one thing that we couldn't take," said the insider that called us. "After what has happened, do you think we still want to work with them?"
Congratulations gents. You blew it.