In (almost) every single season of the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Vios Cup, you can bet that there’s a white-and-yellow liveried machine fighting at the front. That would be from Toyota Team Cebu (TTC), which has and always have been a title contender year after year after year. 2023 should be no different as the team from the Queen City of the South confirms a 6-car lineup ahead of the season opener.
5 out of its 6 drivers are returnees from the previous year. What has changed though for the 2023 season is how they’re distributed across the 3 racing categories. As most of them were still new in 2022, majority of their drivers had to be lumped together in the Promotional Class, putting TTC at a slight disadvantage in the higher divisions. But after a full year’s experience, the team is now able to do a reshuffle and put equal amounts of effort in each class.
Super Sporting Class
TTC Team Captain Lord Seno announced his retirement at the end of last year after 7 full seasons in the TGR Vios Cup. But after a bit of persuasion, he’s back behind the wheel to lead the team’s charge in the top-tier category. Competing alongside him will be Ian Rosales who’s making the jump to race with the big boys in Super Sporting Class. Aside from finishing 2nd the Promotional Class, the Iloilo native was also busy winning in several other championships. He ended 2022 as the Philippine GT150 Champion and even won the Clubman GT Driver of the Year.
Despite missing the 2022 season opener, Russel Cabrera finished in an impressive 4th in class with his 1 race win and 2 podiums. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination where he would have placed in the championship if only he was there from the very beginning. With high hopes, the 18-year-old is back even stronger with the Sporting Class title in his sights. Alan Palacios will be driving the second white-and-yellow liveried entry as he graduates from the Promotional Class. Hailing from Iloilo, Alan had his shining moments last year with 4 podiums in his name, allowing him to conclude the season 3rd in class.
Jarond Mesina is returning for a 2nd season with TTC in the Promotional Class. Like his teammate Russel, Jarond only joined mid-season in 2022 yet still managed to bag a race victory during the finale. Given his raw talent, this karter turned touring car driver is expected to be a front-runner in 2023. The team’s newest recruit is Paolo Ayo who will be running under Toyota Team Cebu x Edgesport Racing. The 24-year-old started his motorsports career in karting where he won several podiums in Cadets, Formula SL, and Seniors. He even won regional events in X30 Southeast Asia and is a 2-time Golden Wheel Awardardee. Paolo made his TGR Vios Cup debut at the season ender last year and currently competes in the Formula V1 Challenge.
The 2023 TGR Vios Cup kicks off this weekend at the Clark International Speedway (CIS). Qualifying and Race 1 takes place on Friday (June 30), followed by Race 2 and 3 on Saturday (July 1).
Lord Seno, Team Captain: “Toyota Team Cebu has been practicing for the last 2 months. We’ve also done extensive work on our cars just to get every possible tenth of a second of improvement. I’m sure that Ian will adapt quickly to the Super Sporting Class with his experience in Philippine GT and I’ll be here to support him as we fight at the front. I also have full confidence in Russel. Despite his young age, he has done his homework and impresses us every time he’s out on track. He’ll be racing along side Alan in Sporting Class this year who is ready to take on the new challenge. Jarond and Paolo have already proved that they can deliver results and will surely be contenders for the Promotional Class title. The TGR Vios Cup has always been a very competitive series, and together with MRA Auto Parts and Edgesport, we’ll be giving it all we got to win.”
Toyota Team Cebu is sponsored by Toyota Mandaue South, Standard Insurance, Bethel Insurance, BG Injector Cleaner, Vian-Son Automotive Services Inc., Suarez and Sons Inc., Solane, and Cebu Protrade Industrial Corporation, and MRA Auto Parts.
[Photo by James Morales Jr]