Admittedly, the Batangas Racing Circuit (BRC) is not Access Plus Racing’s best suit. Yet, despite the tricky weather conditions, both Timothy Joseph “TJ” Alberto and Lawrence Macalinao managed to deliver 2 wins and 2 podium finishes during the Philippine Superbike Championship’s (PSBK) return to the track last August 6/7.
However, disaster struck even before anything had started. The rain had been on-and-off leading up to the race and caught out an unsuspecting TJ during Friday practice. His #77 Ducati Panigale V4 left the track at speed and while the rider was unhurt, the bike was in pieces.
Fast action by the Access Plus Racing rebuilt the bike overnight, allowing TJ to make it to Qualifying. Siding with caution, the reigning PSBK champion just had to ensure a front-row start and set a time good enough for P3 on the grid. His teammate Lawrence, on the other hand, struggled with a clutch issue that only allowed him to end the session in P9 overall.
Starting Race 1 in the dry, TJ maintained position for most of the race trailing behind Dashi Watanabe on the Kawasaki and Marvin Mangulabnan on the BMW. But with only 2 laps to go, rain fell forcing them to continue on slicks. TJ found grip where others didn’t allowing him to move up a spot and finish in a strong 2nd place. Lawrence wasn’t as lucky. The sudden downpour confused the Ducati rider and slowed down thinking that the race had been red flag. He lost the massive gap he had opened up in the Intermediate Class by the time he realized his error, yet still salvaged 3rd in his category.
Race 2 in the afternoon was declared wet and shortened to just 7 laps. But all riders still ran on slicks on a drying track. It was a repeat of the morning race with Dashi and Marvin fighting at the front. TJ saw his chance to strike on the very last lap when the 2 leading riders went wide, allowing TJ to make his move. He would hold onto 1st place on the run to the chequered flag and deliver a well-deserved win for the team. Lawrence finally got payback for his earlier mistake to deliver a lights-to-flag victory in the Intermediate Class. He crossed the finish line 4th overall and 1st in the Intermediate Class with a commanding 4.174 secs lead.
The 2022 Philippine Superbike Championship now reaches the halfway point with Round 4 scheduled on September 3/4 and return to the Clark International Speedway. TJ Alberto currently leads the Overall and Expert Class standings with 144 points, while teammate Lawrence Macalinao is 2nd in the Intermediate Class just a single point behind the leader.
TJ Alberto, #77: “Great work by the whole team. I had a big crash on Friday and somehow they managed to rebuild the bike overnight. I chose not to take any more big risks, but was still able to deliver good results. Finishing 2nd in Race 1 in the rain on slick tires boosted my confidence. Then I had an amazing last lap battle in Race 2. While running in 3rd, both riders ahead of me went wide and took my chance to win. Taking 1st place after an eventful weekend was amazing. We have doubled our points lead and I am looking forward to the next race which should suit us.”
Lawrence Macalinao, #26: “I’m really happy the results even with the very tricky conditions and finished 3rd and 1st over the weekend. We were really able to close the gap in the Intermediate Class championship. A big thank you to Access Plus Racing and Ducati Philippines the best bike possible. Hopefully we’ll be able to take the points lead in the coming rounds, especially that the next race will be in Clark. The team has always been able to extract the Panigale V4’s full potential there so really looking forward to the next event.”
Toti Alberto, Team Principal: “That was a very eventful weekend for us all. The changing weather plus TJ’s crash on Friday, admittedly we took things a bit cautiously to make sure both our riders are safe. Coming out with good results or even a race win would just be a bonus. So what TJ and Lawrence were able to achieve was nothing short of a blessing from God. A big thank you to everyone at Access Plus Racing, our sponsors, and the Lord for allowing us to be victorious in BRC.”
Access Plus Racing is sponsored by Ducati Philippines, Angkas, Essenza, Frontrow, Katinko, Makati Diamond Residences, Italtrans, Aella, Apex, Extreme Components, Lv8, Macbeth, Ohlins, and STM, with Motoworld and Teagumps.