Sorento on the DOT: Competing in the 2010 ARCC with the 2010 Kia Sorento
- Lester Dizon () - March 10, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - At around 7AM last Saturday (March 6) at the Home Depot Ortigas parking lot, the 2010 Auto Rally Corporate Challenge (ARCC) was flagged off by Sunshine Television President and CEO and The Philippine STAR columnist Ray Butch Gamboa and Automobile Association Philippines Motor Sports Director Mandy Eduque. The “Sampaguita Rally”-type ARCC race was heading off to Subic Bay with 13 car manufacturers vying for the honor of winning an on time/all the time rally with one of the largest starting grids in a local race – 65 cars and 130 participants.

But the sheer number of competitors didn’t worry me. I had complete confidence in the driving ability of my team mate, Manila Standard-Today’s Dino Directo III, who was going to do the driving. Dino and I have teamed up in various automotive races and motorcycle tours before and we always finished well. Dino was likewise confident with my navigating experience, especially with a race based on the Tulip Rally. But our confidence was boosted even more because we were riding the all-new Kia Sorento 4x4.

The new Sorento is the second model launched by Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC) to feature the tiger-nose radiator grille, the new trademark that all Kia automobiles carry worldwide. With 2010 being the Year of the Steel Tiger, our confidence of finishing the ARCC in a high note felt more like our destiny.

Transport Stage

Our Java Brown metallic Sorento 4x4 is powered by a transverse-mounted 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder aluminum engine with DOHC, 16-valves and dual CVVT that produces 174PS at 6,000rpm and 230Nm of torque at 3,750rpm. The Sorento’s Theta II engine comes with upgraded electronics and low-friction components to deliver more power, improved durability, enhanced refinement and reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Coupled to a new six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic feature, our Sorento cruised through the “transport stage” from the Home Depot Ortigas starting line to Tipo, Zambales with nary a hiccup.

We were allotted 3 hours to finish the stage, allowing for traffic and other unforeseen circumstances but we did it in just two hours because the early Saturday morning traffic at EDSA wasn’t too heavy and the roads at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) offered smooth sailing. We kept our speeds at the legal limit of 100kph even though our Sorento 4x4 was snarling to stretch its legs and run faster because ARCC rules issue demerits for traffic infractions and Dino and I wanted to avoid demerits like the plague.

Rally Stages 1 to 3

ARCC Chief Marshal George Ramirez, son of Philippine racing legend Pocholo Ramirez, flagged us off from Tipo as the first three stages of the ARCC rally wove into the twisty mountain roads inside the former US naval base. We had to contend with a bicycle race, a joint US-Philippines military exercise and sweltering heat while doing the rally, but inside our Sorento 4x4, Dino and I were as cool as a couple of refrigerated cucumbers. The supportive CAC/Kia marketing team erected large streamers that shouted “Go Team Kia” that made other teams green with envy. They even loaded our Sorento with snacks and drinks, which made our drive during the first three ARCC stages a real picnic, both figuratively and literally speaking.

Lunch was served at the end of stage 3 of the rally at the VIP Room of the Subic International Raceway (SIR). After lunch, we tried to compute the needed times on our Route Book but the half-track tarmac Special Stage run, which we were to run at exactly 1 minute 20 seconds, as well as the 65 nice vehicles waiting on the pit lane, made calculating segment times a chore. Dino and I did 1:28 on the special tarmac stage, which meant an 8-point penalty but we didn’t mind. We were having so much fun.

Finishing Stage 4 with our 4x4

The fourth and final stage was a 35-kilometer drive from the raceway to Gerry’ Grill guided by a tricky and confusing route that went in and around the many destinations of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone – Chef E’s Resto, George Dewey Wellness Center, JEST Camp, Treetop Adventure, Forest Complex, EL Kabayo, Pamulaklakin park, SBMA Exhibition and Convention Center, as well as the various hotels and night spots will make lesser teams lose their way. Thankfully, our team completed the ARCC rally without getting lost or missing any checkpoint, including the controversial Checkpoint 12, which many teams missed.

We weren’t perfectly “on time, all the time” and many of the time keepers were overwhelmed by the number of cars stopping at their stations, but we had a great time thanks to fun factor of the ARCC and the ample power, improved fuel efficiency, better handling and smooth performance of our Sorento 4x4. Our seven-seat “Highline Cruiser” delivered fresh visual excitement to our 65-car field, gave us a spacious and luxurious cabin to work in and provided us with comfortable yet responsive on-road handling with a fun-to-drive factor that’s uncommon in SUVs. Our Sorento 4x4 was equipped with impressive technology features like a Keyless Entry with Alarm, Push Engine Start/Stop Button and Smart Key, 3-barnicle Instrument Panel with Message Center and a Back-up Sensor as a safety feature, as well as a state-of-the-art six-speaker audio system with Power Bass that delivers concert hall quality sounds, with AUX, AM/FM, Single in-dash CD MP3, USB and iPod connectivity plus a built-in amplifier.

Sure Winner

While many of our competitors had to drive back to Manila after the ARCC, Team Kia, which included our team and the teams of Ira Panganiban and Dennis Santos, Ron delos Reyes and Angel Rivero, Patrick Tadeo and Raul Asuncion, and Francis Pallarco and Jude Morte, was treated to an overnight stay at the plush Lighthouse Marina Resort and a fun dinner hosted by Columbian Autocar Corporation President and COO Felix J. Mabilog, Jr. with CAC marketing head honcho Boying Soriano. The evening had us feeling as if we had won and were already having our victory party.

Of course, the ARCC results won’t be known until tomorrow (March 11) but, speaking for Dino and myself, we don’t really mind. We had so much fun and enjoyed driving the all-new Kia Sorento 4x4 that we already feel like winners, on time all the time.

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