Pro-racing dreams come true at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup

Pro-racing dreams come true at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup
From e-sports champions to celebrities like Daniel Matsunaga, these racing enthusiasts brought their talents to the track for the 2021 season

Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by Toyota Motor Philippines and was produced by BrandRap, the sales and marketing arm of Rappler. No member of the news and editorial team participated in the production of this piece.

Thanks to a growing racing community in the Philippines, the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Vios Cup successfully concluded its 2021 season which streamed live on Toyota Motor Philippines’ online channels. Over the past seven years, the TGR Vios Cup has provided an avenue not only for veteran racers, but also for motorsport enthusiasts to get in on the action. 

By the season’s third and final leg, the TGR Vios Cup gathered 49 contenders across four different classes to win the cup at the Clark International Speedway in Pampanga. Here are just a few stories where auto enthusiasts took their racing fantasies to the next level.

From virtual to reality

We might often draw a hard line between sports and esports, each with its own distinct set of competitors, but such is not the case with TGR. In fact, four of the TGR Vios Cup participants were also winners at the 2021 TGR GT Cup, which uses the video game Gran Turismo Sport as its racing platform. 

Among these gamers were Estefano Rivera, Jether Miole, and Corban Guerrero who each were participants at the GT Cup. Their prominence in both competitions proves just how many professionals share this hybrid love for racing. 

For Miole, the experience was exhilarating as he got to go to feel everything that was happening the car as he sped off as compared to a virtual race. “If someone like me, a sim racer, were given a slot for Vios Cup, I would say they should not let it pass. This was a massive opportunity for someone still getting into real-life racing to experience a real race car around a real racetrack. Therefore, I would recommend it to other GT Cup racers, especially those who want to drive on an actual track but cannot due to them lacking funds to do so,” he shared.

From the GT Cup to the Vios Cup, TGR continued to provide opportunities for racers to exercise their passion and sharpen their skills in spite of the ongoing pandemic.

Platform for passion

Estefano Rivera was among the familiar faces who once again joined the TGR Vios Cup, having participated in the races three times in the previous years and finally bagging the trophy in the Super Sporting Class category.

“I feel very happy and fulfilled winning this year’s TGR Vios Cup. This is my 4th year competing in the Vios Cup and to finally win the championship for the first time is just a huge relief since this championship has been close to [my] heart ever since… The hardest challenge I encountered at this level was the importance of consistency wherein you can’t win the Vios Cup Championship if you aren’t consistent for the whole year,” he shared.

The 25-year old racer has been in the scene since he was 12, kickstarting his career through Go Kart racing and then transitioning to real cars when he was old enough. He was eventually given the opportunity to join the Vios Cup with Toyota Alabang, and the Obengers Racing group. Right before the pandemic hit, he was competing in  Formula V1 open wheel racing and in Gymkhana racing as well.

After bagging a trophy in 2021’s race, he’s now taking a short detour by helping the rest of his team prepare for upcoming races. “My plan first is to focus and help my teammates [this 2022] to become the future champions of the Vios Cup. Regarding my racing career, I will always be open and ready to compete in local and international competitions once the opportunity presents itself,” he said.

Celebrities shine on the track

Continuing the tradition since 2019, TGR Vios Cup’s Autocross Challenge continues to provide a stepping stone for racing enthusiasts from all sorts of backgrounds. This year’s edition saw a diverse mix of individuals who took on the challenge, including actors like Enzo Pineda, Arron Villaflor, and John Manalo; beauty queens like Laura Lehmann and Winwyn Marquez; hosts like Carla Lizardo and Gino Quillamor; and social media personalities like Bianca Yao and Jules Aquino. 

For first-timer Lehmann, overcoming the high-octane experience was a matter of “reminding myself that it’s okay to go out of my comfort zone sometimes. If we do, we [will] find great things!” By trailing its competitors through a “time attack” obstacle course, the Autocross Challenge readies aspiring pro-racers for the maneuvers that come with a full circuit race.

“I love how it’s very accessible to those with no experience! Autocross is a great introduction to the racing sport before committing to racing against other people on a track. I love how it’s done individually so you don’t have to worry about bumping into other drivers especially when you’re still inexperienced. Beyond that, just the entire experience of race day is wonderful – the preparation, the track, the car, the drive, the location,” Lehmann shared.

Quillamor also shared that most of the participants in the category were first-time racers. “This was my first time to be a part of the TGR Vios Cup. First time to actually race too. I mean, I went on a go kart a few times, but never competitively. Before this, I was a part of the GT Supra Cup, which is basically done on a racing simulator (Gran Turismo sport),” he said.

“Personally I think the biggest challenge for me was keeping myself in check. When you want to finish the course in the shortest possible time, logically you’d think that the best way to do so is to step on it or basically just go as fast as you can. What autocross teaches you is that it’s not always just about speed. It’s about control and tempering that desire to step on the gas whenever you wanna do better,” he added.

Crossing over to the pros

This year also saw the previous Circuit Championship Celebrity Class winners graduate into the Promotional Class, a 12-lap circuit race. Models Daniel Matsunaga and Fabio Ide, as well as actor Troy Montero, were among many new additions into the 2021 TGR Vios Cup Promotional Class. 

“Racing in competitions with other racers and different classes is really unique. You need to challenge those in your class and race against them and yet be aware of others in different classes so that you don’t cause an incident or get tangled in somebody else’s race. The competition is fierce and everybody is really good,” Montero said.

Over its seven seasons, the TGR Vios Cup has continually evolved and proven itself a platform to promote motorsports in the Philippines. It gives auto racing lovers of all experience levels a unique opportunity to share the racetrack and grow in their love for the sport. 

Toyota has always championed “Pushing the limits for Better” throughout all of its events. Whether you’re a pro-gamer, or a hardcore hobbyist, the TGR has something for you. 

Stay tuned to Toyota Motor Philippines on Facebook to receive updates on the 2022 season, as well as other experiences that push the limits for the better. – Rappler.com

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