2018 Subaru Car Challenge: 12 time’s a charm

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer November 07,2018
The Philippine team

The Philippine team

Every year since 2001, Motor Image Enterprises of Singapore, together with its subsidiaries all over the Asean region, hold the Subaru Car Challenge in the city state of Singapore.

The goal is to hold the vehicle that one is assigned to, the longest, and ultimately win it.

I’ve been going to this event for the last decade or so, and have seen the challenges, difficulties, defeats and triumphs of various winners.

The question this year was: Is it going to be the Philippines’ turn to bring home a car?

I asked Glenn Tan, the big boss of Motor Image Enterprises, and just recently appointed deputy chairman of Tan Chong International Limited Inc., Motor Image’s parent company, why Motor Image and Subaru continue to hold this event.

Tan says that the Subaru Car Challenge represents Subaru’s brand values of courage, determination, grit, and a sense of adventure, something all Subaru owners exhibit with their outdoorsy active and exciting lifestyles.

Indeed, Subaru vehicles of today have shed their cult-car status, and have entered the mainstream.

Today’s Subarus are fashionable, exciting, highly capable and high-performing cars.

Factor in Subaru’s Eye-Sight Active Safety Technology, and the brand is also now a very safe, sophisticated and modern alternative for value-conscious, demanding and equally sophisticated car buyers.

And with Subaru planning to expand to new locations in 2019, bringing its total dealership chain to 34, will allow more people to enjoy and have easy access to the Subaru brand for both sales and after-sales servicing.

The Philippine edition of the event is a truncated version that lasts only about 12 hours, unlike the finals held in Singapore, which can last for more than three days.

A five-minute break is given every six hours in the Singapore finals to allow competitors to either rest and relax their tired bodies, take a fast toilet break, eat/drink or receive some form of emergency attention.

Four hundred competitors, broken down in 10-man teams from the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other markets where Motor Image Subaru is present, represented their respective countries.

2018 was brutal. The event had to be stopped a few times due to intense lightning storms. The extreme weather changes of hot and humid Singapore was equally tough for competitors and onlookers alike.

Analiza Mohktar (left), shown with her daughter, is only the second woman to win the 17-year event.

Analiza Mohktar (left), shown with her daughter, is only the second woman to win the 17-year event.

More than 100 people dropped out of the event at the end of the first day alone as the elements took their toll on both the physical and mental fortitude of the competitors.

You could instantly feel the heat emanating from the massive built-up area of Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza and Shopping Center where the event was held—from the ground, the cars, and of course, the competitors standing beside/outside the competition area.

This year’s victor is none other than Singaporean Analiza Mokhtar, a 12-time veteran of the event who had vowed to one day win the coveted competition, and with it, the keys to a brand-new Subaru XV valued at around SGD70,000 (roughly P2.7 million).

She is only the second woman in the event’s 17-year history to win the event. Her total time was an astounding 75 hours, 17 minutes and 58 seconds, besting even last year’s time of 74-plus hours.

Mokhtar had come very close to winning the event in 2016, where she came in second place. She vowed to win this event, which she finally did.

Second place was won by Thailand’s Phraitoon Sanguannam, who fell at the 75th hour due to extreme physical and mental stress.

Phraitoon’s second place finish allowed the 10-man contingent from Thailand to win the team championship as well, taking home SGD10,000 for the team.

Glenn Tan congratulates Analiza Mokhtar

Glenn Tan congratulates Analiza Mokhtar

Phraitoon received SGD5,000 for his valiant second place effort.

The Philippine team had a lot of bravado and confidence at the start, but they all ended up with difficult hand positions.

Many of our Filipino brethren who are small in size (though not in stature) ended up with palm positions on the upper half of the vehicle, which put them at a disadvantage compared to other competitors who had their palm positions on the lower half of the vehicle. Such is the luck of the draw for this event.

Filmark “Tohoi” Bernante received SGD1,000 (approximately P39,000) for being the final Filipino standing in the contest.

He was taken out of the contest past the 57th hour after marshals noticed his hand curling slightly against the palm print.

Ever the optimists, Tohoi and the rest of the Philippine contingent are confident they can do much better next time, next year.

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