It’s wheel-to-wheel action down to the wire at the opening round of the 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup

July 7, 2023

(Photos by Randolph de Leon)

One of the country’s much-awaited racing events has recently made its stand-out return! It’s the 2023 season of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup, and what went down last June 30 to July 1 at the Clark International Speedway was an epic showing of guts and glory.

To get y’all in the loop, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup, or TGR Vios Cup is the long-time pet project of Toyota Motor Philippines, and was recently co-presented by its motorsports department called Toyota Gazoo Racing Philippines. The TGR Vios Cup, which is now on its 9th season, serves as not only a way for aspiring and seasoned racing drivers to flex their skills behind the wheel, but also to demonstrate the capability and reliability of the locally-made Toyota Vios subcompact sedan.

As with the previous seasons, competing drivers in the Circuit Championship are sent out on track, categorized into three classes of increasing skill levels, first of which is the combined Promotional and Sporting Classes. Then there’s the Super Sporting Class wherein many of the country’s top-seeded racing drivers are going full-on attack mode for the win.

To spice things up for good measure, this season also includes the Autocross Championship for the media and influencer people. And similar to the Circuit Championship, TGR Vios Cup Autocrossers compete in their own Sporting and Promotional Classes.

Now with the introductory somethings out of the way, let’s get down to business of what transpired during that fun race weekend. It all started with Race 1 which was green-lit last June 30, climaxing the next day with Races 2 and 3 on reverse-grid order.

Promotional and Sporting Class

Spectators and media coverage were of the minimum on that day, but it didn’t hinder the fighting spirit of the men and women under the most jam-packed class this year.

In Race 1, Russell Cabrera (Toyota Team Cebu) gained initial momentum which he carried over to the finish. He would clinch 1st place, followed by lady racer Maila Alivia (JBT Racing/Toyota Isabela) in 2nd. Rounding up the podium in 3rd was Russell’s teammate, Alan Palacios.

The following day, press people and the public were let in to watch the action unfold. Many things happened during the course of the 12-lap Race 2 under the blazing sun. Some cars encountered technical problems, while others ended up in all sorts of incidents. When the dust settled, Cabrera, again, took home the win, followed in 2nd by Jay Lao (Happy Hotels/OTR). Completing the top 3rd was Maila Alivia.

Finally, in the afternoon’s Race 3, dark clouds gathered up to tease the racers. But the rain didn’t pour. Regardless, the race commenced, roaring engines and squealing tires, and all. It was a close battle in all classes. With wheel-to-wheel and bumper-to-bumper moments expected all throughout for that last chance to score, Bern Corpino (Obengers/Toyota Otis team) emerged the victor. Close behind in 2nd was his teammate, Michael Keilani Jordan. And Maila Alivia, meanwhile, enjoyed another 3rd spot.

Super Sporting Class

The Promotional and Sporting Class races went alongside the Super Sporting Class on the starting grid. Combined, the 4.2 km long high-speed track saw 27 cars battling it out for the win. As the name implies, Super Sporting is where you’d find many seasoned drivers going “super”, a lot of whom are veterans with many Vios Cup championship titles to boot.

In Race 1, Gerard Loy (R Racing Team) broke the ice to grab the season’s first Class victory. Not far behind was Red Diwa (JBT Racing/Toyota Isabela) who clinched 2nd. Following closely in 3rd was John Dizon (JD Motorsports/Ribbon Arc).

The next day in Race 2, John Dizon made his mark with a valiant 1st place win over Joaquinn Garrido (Obengers/Toyota North EDSA team). Diwa struggled a little, but fought bravely to slot in 3rd place.

Then in the afternoon came the thrilling last race of the opening round. Gerard Loy floored it to defend the leading position, but was on a constant alert due to high pressure being put up by Ian Rosales (Toyota Team Cebu). Loy and Rosales were on a battle ground of their own as the two swapped places at every chance presented. In the end, Rosales came out on top with his last ditch effort to snag 1st place off the hard-charging Loy. Seeing all that action from behind was Loy’s teammate Bryan Co who crossed the line in 3rd.

The exciting race weekend was made extra exciting with the competition in the Autocross Championship. Here are the results:

Catch the trill once again as the 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup returns to Clark for Round2 on September 7-8. The 2023 Toyota GR Vios Cup is made possible by Bridgestone Philippines, Petron, and other presenters below.

About the Author

Randolph de Leon
Randy is a person with disability (PWD), a partially-blinded person with only his left eye functioning. Since childhood, the automobile has always been his passion, and is able to express it through photography and most recently, through writing as well. Outside the motoring beat, Randy spends time manning the media aspect of his business which he co-founded with his sister/college classmate. It's called Dragonlight Wellness and Solutions, a multi-business venture centering on improving peoples' lives through earning.