Partners of the beaten path

Story & Photos by Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes

THERE are many ways to show people that different parties have already sealed a partnership. But none is as outlandishly symbolic as what Wheel Gallery PH and Yokohama Philippines did when they invited about 20 journalists to the thick jungles of Sierra Madre in Tanay, Rizal, for their official announcement as partners in the business.

In Photo: The customized Isuzu mu-X with Black Rhino wheels

“This event is for us to experience the grip and performance of the Yokohama Geolander MT and to formally announce that Wheel Gallery has added a tire brand into its product line,” said Wheel Gallery Ph marketing head, Justin Uy during a short briefing before the actual off-road testing started.

“In fact, this was organized to formally announce the partnership between Wheel Gallery and Yokohama PH,” he reiterated.

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“We are happy with this partnership with Wheel Gallery, a company very popular in the aftermarket industry. With its expansive customer base, I am sure Yokohama’s partnership with Wheel Gallery will be a rousing success,” Satoshi Miura, president of Yokohama PH, meanwhile said.

No walk in the park

Soon after the briefing and formal remarks from Wheel Gallery and Yokohama executives, excited media participants joined the first group of off-roaders wherein organizers plotted a 3-kilometer route that eventually saw the contingent tackle deep river crossings, uphill terrain, and a route that had loose rocks and massive tree roots lining up the uphill path.

“This is no walk in the park gentlemen, just follow what the instructors say and nobody will get hurt,” stated renowned off-road guru Kits Aragon during orientation.

Shawn Pamintuan (from left), head for marketing and business planning Yokohama Philippines; Edward Q. Romero Jr., assistant vice president sales and marketing; Satoshi Miura, president Yokohama Tire Sales Philippines Inc.; Samuel Liuson, president of Wheel Gallery PH; and Justin Uy, marketing manager for Wheel Gallery PH

The underrated off-roader

This writer joined the newbie ranks of Neil Pagulayan and Earl Manalansan onboard the customized 4×4 Isuzu mu-X.

Though often underrated as an all terrain machine, for the most part, surprisingly, the Isuzu mu-X was able to handle the trail with relative ease as it conquered the infamous difficult “Jungle Base” terrain.

This Foilacar-wrapped stunner was eye-catching in Desert Tan scheme with big Mellow 94.7 and Isuzu mu-X Blue Power logos which celebrated the radio station’s 45th anniversary last year.

While inside, I got to experience its utilitarian commercial heritage that was mixed with hard-finish surfaces.

Powering this behemoth is a four-cylinder 3.0-L turbocharged diesel with Blue-power technology.

The weekend off-roaders

Since it’s customized, a few inches were added to its standard ground clearance of 220 mm, making it capable on the tricky slopes of the jungle. Though it lacks a rear differential lock, it never failed us with its approach angle of 24 degrees coupled with a departure angle of 25.1 degrees and a break over angle of 19.5 degrees. Its four-wheel drive equipment is very basic. Once engaged to 4H mode, torque is automatically sent to all four wheels.

How they roll

According to Yokohama, they were delighted with the venue of the drive, as it properly tested the off-road features of the Geolander MT.

“The Yokohama tires are the stars of today’s off-roading event,” shared Wheel Gallery Head Honcho Sam Liuson.

“Since we usually go off-road, we thought of bringing you guys here to test the Black Rhino wheels with the new tires,” he added.

“This is just how we roll.”

Image Credits: Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes

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