Toyota Team Cebu’s Best Performance Ever
THE STARTER - Lord Seno (The Freeman) - October 1, 2018 - 12:00am

My undershirt down to my underwear was dripping wet as I was not only drained of 1 kilo of my body fluids, I was mentally drained as well.  I had just finished the last leg of the Vios Cup 2018.  I was in contention for the overall Championship of the Sporting Class, but in Race 8, it was not to be.  I lost the championship by 5.5 seconds to a better driver that weekend.  But my racing buddy, Clive, won the overall championship in his respective class.  The racing doctor, Clive Fermin,  was also instrumental in accumulating team points, enough for us to win the Overall Best Team of the 2018.  Let’s hear his story.

A Championship Caliber Team

Going into the last race, a thousand and one thoughts were rushing through my mind, I knew I had to gather as much points to help secure the overall team championship, I also knew I was trailing Elysee of Team Obengers and Vincent of AP Corse for the overall drivers’ championship in the Rota Promotional category, both are frighteningly quick and fiercely competitive and finishing in front of them is a very tall order. Practice pace was good and I immediately felt comfortable in the car. It is when one is out of the car, when you are imagining all sorts of scenarios that create havoc in your mind. Believe me, as demanding as driving a race car is physically, it is nothing compared to the mental torture one is going through on a championship weekend. Obviously, you are psyched and want to do your best, but so is everyone up and down the grid. Winning, is a combination of a lot of things ... Preparation, talent, hunger, a lot of hardwork and just a little bit of luck. It won't guarantee you a championship, but without any of those things, believe me, you won't stand a chance. After a perfect qualifying where I got pole and my teammate, Bobby Pangilinan got P2, it was just a matter of focusing on my start.   Race 6 we finished the race where we started, in P1 and P2. Race 7 and 8 were trickier as rules state the top 6 cars start on a reverse grid, the winner also has to put on 30kgs of success ballast (weights). I got a good start, overtook a couple of cars.  Towards the latter half of the race, I was witness to a terrific battle between 3 cars! Bits and pieces of cars were flying my way, I stayed out of the melee, coming out of the Porsche corner, I could see both my Championship rivals were out of the points.  There was no need to get into that fight. I eventually overtook one car cleanly and finished the race in 4th, which means I wo uld start the last race in P3 and Bobby who was behind m, would start at P2.  Also 10 kg of my 30 kg success ballast would be removed.  Perfect!

Somebody once asked me, what our strategy was going into the last race.  I actually couldn't give him a straight answer.  Of course we were there to win.  Isn't that what everyone here is for? But it would be too presumptuous to say that. The great Mike Tyson once said “strategy is what you have before you get hit in the face ... “once the green flag drops, its pure instinct, and training, and desire ... you actually can tell the persons character by how he or she behaves in the track. How you deal with a fellow human being when you're side by side at 180 kph is a true test of a man’s character. No wonder then that a lot of us who have raced together and mutually earned each other’s trust and respect become lifelong friends.

Race 8, again I got a good start; Bobby made an even better start! He was P1 as we entered the first corner! Again, I could see coming out of the Porsche corner, both my championship rivals were behind me, so I just kept my nose clean, focusing on keeping my racing lines as quick and as neat as possible. Although there is a sense of violence and brutality as one pushes the car to its limits, there is also a contradicting gentleness; a certain finesse. It's a bit like dancing ... On the edge of a cliff ... While holding a knife ... One mistake and you're dead! Suddenly, boom! Bobby was hit from behind and I was pulled out of my trance. Until then everything was perfect. Bobby was leading; my rivals were far behind... The resulting chaos meant I had to do some work; it was good I was preserving the car until then. It still had plenty to give, and eventually I finished the race in second. Ahead of both Championship rivals. But more importantly I was able to contribute a lot of points which counted towards not just my own points but to the Team as well. Bobby and my other teammate Brian were not so lucky; because of accidents both did not finish the race.  A stark reminder of how easy it is for lady luck to frown on you.

My teammate and our Team Captain Lord Seno, who was rather in a very precarious situation in his quest for an overall crown, eventually finished first runner up in the Sporting Class. He was beaten to the title by a young, feisty Prodigy named John Dizon. Remember that name, you will be hearing that name for years to come. Oscar finished the race and the season strongly inside the top 10. In the Super Sporting Class both Jette and Sean had a mixed weekend, flashes of speed, but eventually cat troubles and accidents meant both of them did not finish in the Podium. The Super Sporting Championship went to Toyota Quezon Avenue’s Dominique Ochoa.

All in all, it was an awesome season. When our team Manager John Velasco challenged us at the start of the year, to win the Overall Team Championship, nobody said a word. After the first leg, where we got wins, podiums and a healthy haul of points, we saw it could be done. And it was the catalyst that inspired us throughout the year. Our Team Principal Mr. Dodo Cuenco, was much elated after the win saying “this team is made out of friendship and camaraderie with one passionate goal in mind, to perform.” Dodo, together with our sponsors, families and fans made all this possible. Behind all the mayhem was a steady technical head,  Jun Cabrera of MR motorsports. Jun and his crew did a great job in keeping our cars in tiptop shape. With such passion and teamwork, it was indeed an honor and a privilege to race with such an enthusiastic group. Just being around these people, you become a winner already. I dedicate this Championship to all the Cebuanos who have the same passion for winning as we do.

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