The Vios Circuit Championship has begun

The Vios Racing Festival is off to a great start
by Raymond Figuerres | Jun 14, 2019
PHOTO: Raymond Figuerres
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The Vios Racing Festival returned to the Clark International Speedway last weekend to start the first of three legs of the Vios Circuit Championship for 2019. Previously known as the Toyota Vios Cup, the series is now part of the Vios Racing Festival together with the Autocross Challenge.

Toyota motorsports is all about ‘Waku-Doki’, which roughly translates to ‘adrenaline rush.’ But underneath the cute and goofy Japanese phrase is the serious thrust of Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) to promote their brand of car racing in the Philippines. Over several seasons, the Vios Cup has honed amateurs and weekend track drivers into seasoned professionals under FIA standards, or in other words, world-class racers.

This year, with the introduction of the Vios Racing Festival, the focus is back to grassroots motorsports. The aim is to attract more drivers to compete in the circuit races, and for Vios owners to try out what they, and their cars, can do on an autocross racing format. 

Nothing induces more adrenaline than a one-make race series. The cars are built to the same specifications so that driver skill, team strategy, and even luck are what determine winners. The Vios race cars are fueled by the same Petron gasoline, and shod in the same Rota wheels and Bridgestone Potenza tires. Scrutineers make sure the teams comply with the stipulated specs and rules prior to the race and randomly check to ensure no changes were made during the race. Fuels from the gas tanks are sampled, and they even weigh the car and the driver. Combined weight should meet the minimum of 1,100 kg.

As he parked his car after winning Race 2, Eggy Ong gave me insight about how close the racing was. He said winning in the circuit championship was ‘all about being consistent.’ Whoever drives with consistent lap times wins when the cars are equally capable. His team's strategy to put just enough fuel gave them a weight advantage, as they barely made the 1,100 kg minimum at the end of the race. Racecraft is another significant factor when racing wheel-to-wheel, as the numerous incidents on the track proved. False starts, fender benders, and spectacular smashups demonstrated how dramatic a down-to-the-wire race can be.

The side event for the Circuit Races was the Autocross Challenge participated in by the media, and social media influencers who drove Vios race cars, and passionate Vios owners who drove their own cars. The autocross layout was fast and tight. Drivers went head to head, facing each other from their own start/finish line. I competed in the Media Class of the Autocross Challenge, with the aim of improving my driving skills. Besting out my colleagues was supposed to be incidental or maybe a distant objective. But when you're geared up, gripping the steering wheel while eye to eye with your fellow racer on the starting line, the adrenaline surges. In that instant, you are a different person stepping on the pedals. You become aggressive, even ruthless. Controlling this emotional surge and focusing on making a clean run is a lesson I have yet to master.

Exhilarating races aside, spectators have a lot to experience in the Vios Racing Festival. There are the usual celebrity games with their fans, Toyota car displays and test drives, the sponsors' display booths. But this weekend, we were treated to a surprise appearance of the all-new Toyota Supra, driven on the starting grid by TMP president Satoru Suzuki. The long wait for the return of the 5th generation Supra and now seeing it in the metal, was enough Waku-Doki for even the most stolid fan. The racing festival was a befitting venue to give the public its first glimpse of the A90 Gazoo Racing Supra. Too bad it wasn’t driven in anger around the track!

Now I understand what Waku-Doki means.

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PHOTO: Raymond Figuerres
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