It was a weekend full of exciting on-track action again as the 3rd round of the 2017 Toyota Vios Cup went full speed last September 16, 2017 at the 4.2 km long Clark International Speedway (CIS) in Pampanga.
Over 50 drivers signed in to take the challenge and conquer its 4 divisions; Promotional, Celebrity, Sporting, and the top-seeded Super Sporting classes. Much like its 2nd round about a month ago, this penultimate round saw tons of exhilarating moments, especially in the afternoon when mother nature provided a spectacular show of torrential rains to spice things up.
The 12-lap Race 1 of the Rota Promotional Class race went off nicely, but it’s not without a few tense moments. That’s because Don Vic Portugal (Toyota San Pablo) and Red Diwa (Toyota Isabela) came into hard contact with each other as they battled for 3rd on the final lap near the finish line. This incident handed Vincent Courcol (AP Corse/Toyota Makati) the 3rd podium position behind Arbie Jacinto (Toyota San Fernando) in 2nd and Willem Waltheer (GM Motorsports) in 1st.
(On a side note, Waltheer’s participation in this round was a race for charity as the proceeds from his races went to an institution for persons with autism)
Within the Rota Promotional Class is the Celebrity Class where Fabio Ide, Dominic Roque, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith crossed the line in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, respectively.
The action seen in the Promotional Class was only a prelude of things that came as the 12-lap Bridgestone Sporting Class went underway. At 5 laps in, the safety car entered the scene, following an incident involving Paul Lomax (GM Motorsports/Toyota Makati) and JV Ejercito (Obengers) on lap 4. In the end, though, it was Mark Sy (Toyota San Pablo) who took home 1st. Tailing him in 2nd was Paulo Agregado (Obengers), while lady driver Aira Medrano (Toyota Alabang) collected 3rd.
In Total Excellium Super Sporting Class, the day saw an edge-of-the-seat battle ensued from lap 6 all the way to the 12th and final lap between the top 5 drivers Dominic Ochoa (Toyota Quezon Ave.), Keith Bryan Haw (Obengers), Raymond Ronquillo (Obengers), Jette Calderon (GM Motorsports/Toyota Cebu), and Ramon Tanjuatco (AP Corse/Toyota Makati).
These drivers were locked on a tight battle for the win, swapping places ‘til the closing laps. When the dust settled, Ochoa emerged as the victor, followed by Calderon in 2nd, and Haw in 3rd.
By mid day, dark clouds began to form, a sign of an eventual wet Race 2. Adding fairness and challenge was the reverse-grid order rule for the top 6 Race 1 winners from all classes (except the Celebrity Class).
Light drizzles welcomed the start of the Rota Promotional Class race, and on lap 6, it began to pour down hard, reducing tire grip and track visibility in the process. This brought a number of spin-outs, including Bryan Currie (Toyota Cebu) who lost control on lap 8. A few more drivers spun out after that, thus prompting the stewards to stop the race immediately. As it stood, the winners were Roy Bunag (Toyota Bacoor/Flashback Racing), Vincent Courcol, and Marc Soong (Obengers).
The lap 6 downpour also hounded the drivers in Celebrity Class, including Ella Cruz who would slip out moments before the race stoppage. In this class, the victors were Dominic Roque, Fabio Ide, and Troy Montero.
The rain intensified coming into Race 2 of the Bridgestone Sporting Class. As a result, the race was put on hold for 30 minutes to let the rain pass. Additionally, the number of laps was also reduced from 12 to 7 due to safety concerns. At the end of that spectacular wet race, team Toyota Cebu swept the podium with Sean Velasco claiming 1st, Lord Seno 2nd, and Oscar Suarez 3rd.
Finally in Total Excellium Super Sporting Class Race 2, the stewards stuck with their decision to limit the laps to just 7 as the rain proceeded on. By this time, the drivers were showing a bit of control over the wet surface and diminished visibility, except for Allan Uy (Allan Uy Racing) who spun out on lap 4. However, Uy’s luck wasn’t as bad compared Keith Bryan Haw’s. That’s because he spun out on the final lap, thus losing the lead he was trying hard to defend against Jette Calderon. As consolation, he claimed 3rd at the end of the race behind Dominic Ochoa in 2nd. Calderon crossed the line to take 1st.
Of note, the 4th and final round of the 2017 Toyota Vios Cup is scheduled on November 11, 2017 at the CIS. Though at the end of the Round 3 celebrations, its PR people stated that November 26, 2017 is the target date. There's no final word yet, but keep an eye out for Toyota Motor Philippines' official announcement regarding the matter.