As we reported in late May, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines was to stage a four-leg gymkhana series for the Mirage hatchback, to be participated in by motoring journalists, car club members and fleet customers. Well, the first leg was already held on June 29 at the Mall of Asia open grounds, and it was a success (save for the rain that briefly interrupted the proceedings in the afternoon).
The Mitsubishi Mirage Gymkhana, as the series is officially called, is divided into two divisions: media and fleet/club. Each team consists of two members, both alternating as driver and navigator. Mitsubishi is providing two race-prepped Mirage units for the contest, to be run simultaneously on two mirror tracks. Several time penalties are dispensed for specific driving errors, like an additional 15 seconds for a wheelspin upon takeoff and 5 seconds for a mis-shift.
For the first leg, Sunshine TV's Matt Mallari (pictured below) bagged the best time of the day with 49 seconds, besting Manila Bulletin's Anjo Perez and Top Gear Philippines' Jeff Reyes, both of whom cleared the course in 50 seconds. (For the record, TGP's Paulo Subido did 52 seconds, while Vernon B. Sarne and Jason dela Cruz managed 53 seconds.)
The contest includes a bonus activity that allows teams to earn extra points. For the inaugural leg, the bonus activity was a block puzzle. And this is our only gripe about the series, because it means that the fastest team in the driving competition will not necessarily win, as they can perform poorly in the bonus activity.
When the smoke cleared, AutoIndustriya.com came out on top in the opening leg, earning the maximum 25 points. Manila Bulletin, which actually submitted the fastest team time on the track, wound up in third after bungling their puzzle challenge. The Top Gear team of Subido and Dela Cruz, meanwhile, placed second.
The second Top Gear team, composed of Sarne and Reyes, failed to score a single point after incurring a DNF in one of their track runs.
One of the two teams fielded in by the Car Awards Group featured Top Gear regulars Ferman Lao and Niky Tamayo.
The team that earns the most points after four legs will be declared the overall series champion, which comes with a P100,000 prize. The first runner-up team will receive P50,000, while the second runner-up team will get P25,000. (Check out the results of the first leg in the table below.)
The second leg is underway today at SM Fairview. Watch the action if you're in the area.
Photos by Vernon B. Sarne