Access Plus Racing was back to its winning ways in the new 2022 season of the Philippine Superbike Championship (PSBK) when it kicked off at the Clark International Speedway. But it was smooth sailing for Timothy Joseph “TJ” Alberto and Lawrence Macalinao who had to work hard for their race victories over the weekend.
TJ was out to defend his title and placed his #77 Ducati Panigale V4 on pole position during Qualifying. His fastest lap, however, was almost a second slower than his previous best as the reigning champion was still strained by his shoulder injury. Team newcomer Lawrence, on the other hand, was quick to adapt to the new machinery and ended up 4th in the session just behind three former PSBK champions.
Race 1 was a lights-to-flag victory for TJ Alberto, but it was one he had to fight hard for. Marvin Mangulabnan onboard the #189 BMW was breathing down his neck for the entire the 10-lap race trying to look for away past. Despite the pain of his shoulder injury, TJ managed to stay ahead to cross the finish line with a slim 0.455 sec advantage. A few places behind him was Lawrence, who managed to open up a 12.032 secs advantage in the Intermediate Class, to score his first win for Access Plus Racing.
It was another tough day at the office for TJ in Race 2 with Mangulabnan again hounding the Ducati rider. The two riders were in a battle of their own, but in the end TJ reached the chequered flag in 1st just 0.167 secs ahead. Lawrence should have secured another easy win who was leading the Intermediate Class with only four laps to go. But his bike unexpectedly suffered a brake problem that forced him to limp all the way to the end. He had such a big lead before the issue that he still finished the race 3rd in class.
Access Plus Racing will be back on track in just a month’s time when the 2022 Philippine Suerbike Championship moves to the Batangas Racing Circuit for Round 2 on July 2/3. This will be the series’ first time to visit the circuit in two years after last year’s championship was purely held at the Clark International Speedway.
TJ Alberto, #77: “Happy to get the best possible results from the season opener – coming in 1st in all the timed sessions. Marvin [Mangulabnan] really gave me a good workout and it was enjoyable battling with him in both races. It’s a good start to the PSBK season with the points lead in our hands. Can’t wait to race in Batangas in a month’s time.”
Lawrence Macalinao, #26: “I’m really starting to understand Panigale V4 more and also learning to work with the whole team. Everyone’s hard work paid off and I’m thankful with the results we achieved this weekend. As we move forward together, I believe we can be even more competitive and fight for more podiums!”
Toti Alberto, Team Principal: “It was a God given with for TJ coming from a broken collarbone in Buriram. We had to compromise on the bike’s settings to allow him ride comfortably and still have good pace for 10 laps. He won based on a good start, consistency, and race craft rather than outright speed so thank you Lord for the results. Also very happy for Lawrence on his first race weekend with Access Plus Racing. He could have easily won both races, so we are a bit disappointed that a broken brake master reservoir mount dropped him down to 3rd. Lawrence showed what he can do with a professional team, a good bike, and full support.”
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.