Tight race ’til end
The last Saturday of November will be the final two races of the Toyota Vios Cup Season 4, and all eyes will be on Team Obengers and Team Toyota Cebu as both expend their utmost at the Clark International Speedway in Pampanga.
One is regarded as among the most well-funded, having in place a solid support team of coaching, management and support staff.
The other has exhibited its never-give-up attitude, and despite bad weather and unexpected turn of events, has managed to haul points that enabled it to be in striking distance of winning the overall championship.
The last races held last September were hindered a bit by weather conditions that made the track difficult. But Team Obenger now has loads of experience under its belt to deliver a dominant lights-to-flag victory.
Team Obenger coach Roland Hermoso says the team’s successes in previous races have put the onus on the drivers to “stay hungry” and make the 2017 Toyota Vios Cup (Season 4) a winning season for them.
Wealth of experience
He believes the wealth of experience he offers the team as well as how he brought individual drivers together to create a team environment was quite inspirational.
“We had a really clear understanding of our team roles. What’s important is to be consistent, but consistently at the top, says Hermoso who combines over 30 years of racing experience in various disciplines of road racing.
“The points are so close in the championship fight so it is imperative to rack up as many as possible so that nothing desperate is required for the final rounds,” Hermoso adds.
Marc Soong, regarded as the team’s newbie driver, appreciates the full support of its team principal, Cosco Oben, who heads Toyota dealerships of North Edsa, Otis, Balintawak, and Marilao in Bulacan.
Another big name that shone during the second leg of the Vios Cup held last June was Senator JV Ejercito driving off with his first-ever Vios Cup victory in Race 2.
The senator relates that he was just lucky considering the Senate was on break two weeks before the race, and he was able to practice twice to perfect his racing lines.
“The Vios Cup helped me fulfill a dream. Being a motorsports enthusiast, I relish this chance to become a motorsports participant in an honest-to-goodness race event,” he says.
Of course, Team Obengers will also rely on the expertise, tenacity and experience of the rest of the team: drivers Paulo Agregado, Robert Lilles, Keith Bryan Haw, Daniel Miranda, and Raymond Ronquillo
Hermoso adds that considering the team drivers’ busy schedules, Team Obengers was fortunate to find available days when they could train as a team.
“Usually, I need to check the setup of each of their cars, and coach them individually on how to better handle their Vios,” says Hermoso, who is a former Asian Formula 3 star, and has been coaching the team since 2014.
Team Toyota Cebu is another team that has taken brilliant podium position during the September races, enabling it to be in a strong position to capture overall crown.
It was budding Cebuano racer Sean Kieran Velasco who took the checkered flag in the Sporting Class last September.
Velasco’s victory was made even more sweeter considering he was disqualified in Race 1.
Despite finishing first in that race, race stewards later found a mobile phone in his pocket, which is a violation. As a result, Velasco had to start Race 2 at the very back of the grid.
“It was very painful but it was my fault. My dad told me to pack up and go home because there would be no way for me to win the race.
“But I told him that I can do it, and so I went in my car, and went out on track, and overtook as much cars as I could,” he recalled during one of his earlier interviews.
Out to redeem himself and make amends for his father who got disappointed, he immediately overtook six racers right from the race start.
By the third lap, and despite the rain-drenched track, Velasco took third. Towards the end of the race, he eventually overtook race leader Suarez and held on for the win.
Velasco later recalls that during Race 2, he drove heart out because he wanted to redeem himself and wanted to pay back the team, especially his dad who got so angry because of his infraction.
Velasco’s impressive victory was but a part of Toyota Team Cebu’s historic haul during the said leg as Velasco’s fellow drivers, team skipper Lord Seno and veteran racer Oscar Suarez also finished second and third, respectively.
Team Toyota Cebu’s multi-titled racer Jette Calderon almost gave the team another reason to celebrate when he won the Super Sporting class but was eliminated after due to a technical infraction after his vehicle was found to have been installed with a non-OEM (original equipment from manufacturer) part.
In a statement, the team explained: “We completely understand and respect the final ruling of the scrutineering body. Jette Calderon had no knowledge of the said illegal part before and during the race.”
Despite this setback, Calderon promises to come back strong in the upcoming and final two races.