The trio of Pao Agregado, Joaquin ‘Wakkeen’ Garrido, and Thomas Raldorf had a less than ideal 2023 Makabayan Cup Endurance Challenge held in the middle of April. Forced to switch to the team’s spare car due to mechanical gremlins, they then suffered an early DNF in the 2 Hour race with a broken transmission. But through sheer determination, Obengers Racing Nitto Tires were able to complete repairs in time for the 4 Hour race and redeem themselves with a well-deserved class podium.
The team had originally planned to run their current-gen red-liveried #23 Toyota Vios touring car for the weekend. However, poor weather conditions at the Batangas Racing Circuit (BRC) and teething issues throughout practice prevented them from finding its peak performance. That was when Obengers Racing Nitto Tires collectively made the though decision to run the older, yet more familiar Gen. 1 Toyota Vios OMR on raceday.
Nitto’s NT05 max performance tire provided substantial grip not only in the dry, but also in the wet. It proved effective in Qualifying and allowed their #23 machine to start from P15 on the grid and 3rd amongst the C3 runners.
The new tire compound was also put to good use during the 2 Hour Endurance on Sunday morning. Despite the mixed conditions, Obengers Racing Nitto Tires was able to jump to an early class lead. But after making such a good start, their charge came to an abrupt end when their Toyota Vios OMR suffered a terminal transmission problem cutting their race short after only 3 laps.
After recovering their car from the track, the mechanics immediately got to work to replace the broken transmission. It was all hands on deck to get the #23 car back on its wheels and make it in time for the 4 Hour race in the afternoon, which it thankfully did.
Lights went out at 1 o’clock in the afternoon with the team’s youngest driver Wakkeen behind the wheel. The 17-year-old again put Obengers Racing Nitto Tires in the class lead and maintained it throughout his 1.5 hour entire stint. He then handed the car over to Team Manager Pao Agregado for the first driver change, but would incur a hefty penalty due to a pitstop error.
While this dropped them 2 laps down from the class leader, Pao kept his head down and clawed back lost track position to get them back up to P3 in class. Next up was Raldorf who was begging to drive in the rain. He eventually got his wish during his stint as he danced around the soaked 3.500 km circuit on Nitto NT555 G2 tires. Although the race was momentarily red flagged when the rain worsened, the Danish driver was able to safely take the car home when action resumed and finish 3rd in the C3 Category for Obengers Racing Nitto Tires.
The team now shifts its focus to the 12 Hour Kalayaan Cup at the Clark International Speedway in June. More development work will be needed as they return to their current-gen Toyota Vios touring car intended for the season.
Pao Agregado, Team Manager: “There will be a lot of time needed to development the car in time for the race in June. It will be a tough fight for the championship with our results, but anything can still happen as we focus on each race one at a time. But the team is good. We have the support needed and the right platform. I’m happy with 3rd place this race weekend and I know we can do better in the next race.”
Obengers Racing Nitto Tires is supported by Nitto Tires Philippines, Motul Philippines – Infiniteserv Int’l, Dynopro Philippines, and Toyota Balintawak Inc.
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