It wasn’t the trouble-free weekend that they were hoping for, but Access Plus Racing still managed to come out on top during the Philippine Superbike Championship’s (PSBK) visit to the Batangas Racing Circuit (BRC) last July 2/3.
This was the series’ first visit to BRC in 2 years, which required a lot of hard work from both the team and its riders to get reacquainted with the 3.700 km track. Finding the right setup on the Ducati Panigale V4 was key to giving Timothy Joseph “TJ” Alberto and Lawrence Macalinao full confidence to set a good lap and fight at the front. TJ later set the 2nd fastest time in Qualifying, while Lawrence was 4th ahead of all the other Intermediate Class riders.
TJ got a clean getaway at the start of Race 1, but was immediately hounded by his closest championship rival Marvin Mangulabnan on the BMW. They were nose-to-tail for the most of the 11 lap race with the Ducati rider having to soak up the pressure to stay ahead. His efforts was later rewarded with 1st place, setting his personal best in BRC in the process. Lawrence also had his hands full as he fought for position with RG Romero. Their battle would go down all the way to the chequered flag with the Ducati rider missing out on a class win by a mere 0.028 secs across the line.
Race 2 saw another lighting quick start from TJ that propelled him far into the lead. However, it was short lived as a tire issue caused him to lose control on lap 2. With luck on his side, Alberto was able to stay on his bike and rejoin in P3. He now had the difficult task of chasing the lead pack with a degrading rear tire. Despite the risks, he clawed his way back to 2nd where he would finish. Lawrence, on the other hand, had a disastrous start. His stalled his #26 Ducati Panigale V4 on the grid and dropped down to last. But giving up was never an option. He put his head down and made it as high as 5th overall to score another 2nd place in the Intermediate Class.
The 2022 Philippine Superbike Championship will be back at the Batangas Racing Circuit after a month on August 6/7. Hosting back-to-back rounds on the same track allows Access Plus Racing to further hone their bikes and riders and improve on their performance as the season hits its halfway point.
TJ Alberto, #77: “Good to have added points to the championship. Winning the first race and setting my personal best lap was the highlight of the weekend. However, the tire issue in Race 2 made the bike really hard to control and just lucky I didn’t crash. Still, catching up from that far back to finish 2nd was a good way to wrap up the weekend and maintain the points lead.”
Lawrence Macalinao, #26: “Overall I’m happy with my results at BRC. A race win would have been nice, but 2 podiums means a lot for the Intermediate Class championship. I learned a lot from the weekend, especially on riding the Ducati V4. I believe we are making good progress and I’m getting closer to my maximum potential. A big thank you to Access Plus Racing and hoping for better results in the next round.”
Toti Alberto, Team Principal: “Challenging weekend for Access Plus Racing, but we’re happy to come out with a race win and podium finishes between our 2 riders. TJ already had tire issues from qualifying, yet still pushed on to win in Race 1. However, his tire was already in bad shape and our request to replace it was denied by Pirelli due to the rules. This caused TJ to almost lose control of his Ducati and lucky he didn’t get into an accident. Lawrence, on the other hand, showed good performance on the V4 with his lap times and results. With a bit more track time, I’m sure he can get the most out of his bike and continue improving for the next round.”
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.