Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino
SUMMER season is going to be more exciting this year for motorsports enthusiasts as Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has recently kicked off the latest season of the Vios Cup. Even TMP President Satoru Suzuki was excited enough to finally present the upcoming race event. “In the wake of what has been coined as the biggest motorsport in the country, I welcome you to the Toyota Vios Cup season 4.
For Toyota, nothing communicates waku-doki, or the fun in driving, more than the exciting world of motorsports—this was realized in the first three seasons that started in 2014,” he said. And, of course, no other than the country’s best-selling vehicle will again take center stage. “The Vios has proven that, aside from its features of quality, durability and reliability, it’s also a car designed for fun,” Suzuki added.
What makes it more exciting for this year’s Vios Cup are the various changes and additions to make it even more stimulating. To start off, TMP is also launching and integrating what they call Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR). It is Toyota’s global racing brand and special motorsports division which aimed to develop technical and technology solutions for Toyota’s global motorsports activities. This means that what you’re about to witness is no longer your ordinary local racing activity, but is now recognized as part of Gazoo racing events, such as Dakar Rally, World Rally Championship, and 24 hours Le Mans. “TGR focuses on three main aspects: developing human resources, making even-better cars and expanding the motorsports fan base,” Suzuki further explained.
Also presented during the launching was the known French petroleum products provider Total Excellium, the newest addition to the events major sponsors. It will join the existing partners, namely, TRD, Denso, Motul, Brembo, ROTA Wheels, Bridgestone, AVT, OMP and Tuason Racing. Race brackets are still divided into four different classes, namely, celebrity, promotional, sporting and the highly competitive super sporting class. But the total number of cars increased to about 70 for this year, which is the highest so far since the event started in 2014. The super sporting class is said to have the largest grid of around 25 race cars. There are also new drivers joining the different brackets—two from sporting and five from promotional. But, of course, to further spice up and gain more followers, TMP tapped four fresh celebrity drivers. These are Aubrey Miles, Gretchen Ho, Ella Cruz and Dominic Roque. They will join returning celebs Jericho Rosales, Jasmine Curtis Smith and Fabio Ide in the said class.
What goes with new drivers and partner are new sets of rules. For this year, QTT Result will determine the grid position for race one. As for race two, it will apply a reverse grid for the top six cars only in all classes. Additionally, now there will be team awards. In order to qualify, each team must have one competing driver in each class. Competing drivers in the team will then earn points every race event. The team with the highest garnered points will be awarded with a trophy at the end of the season. Same goes with very specific technical rule changes set for the super sporting class, which involves TRD parts that are only allowed to modify, such as exhaust manifold and bushings. The vehicle minimum weight (with driver) is set at1,050 kilograms. Another rule change applies to the vehicle’s powertrain. Only one registered engine is allowed for the season and in the event there’s changes or even resealing, it will result in a grid penalty. But for the case of a wreaked engine, it may be swapped using a similar Vios 1.5-liter (manual gearbox) motor parts with accompanying Toyota dealer certification of authenticity. Any modification or wrong parts installed would result to disqualification.
Similarly, there will be four separate race legs for this year. The opening round is set to take place in Clark International Speedway (CIS) in Pampanga on April 28 and 29. This will eventually go on for the succeeding rounds on June 10 and 11 also in CIS, September 15 and 16 (venue still to be announced), and finally on November 10 and 11 in CIC, as well.