The 2023 Makabayan Cup Endurance Challenge has truly been a trial by fire for Obengers Racing Nitto Tires. From the highest of highs of a podium finish, to the lowest of lows of a DNS, this team has gone through it all. But things eventually came together at the final event of the year where they managed a strong 4th place finish at the 8 Hours of Clark International Speedway (CIS).
Season regulars Pao Agregado and Yoshinari Fujiwara was back behind the wheel of the Motul-liveried #23 Toyota Vios for the season finale last November 25/26. But as the rest of their lineup were unavailable due to prior commitments, they employed the services of John Dizon and Juancho Brobio to share the load.
John is a season Vios Cup driver, taking the Sporting Class title in ’18. Juancho, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to motorsports but has already proven his skills on track with results in Philippine GT, Formula V1, and Radical Challenge. Both of which should prove valuable on their charge to the front of the standings.
To ensure that there won’t be a repeat of their electrical issues during the 12 Hour event, Obengers Racing Nitto Tires checked and re-checked every part of the car before race day. Things would get off to a good start with Pao setting a fast time in Qualifying to put them P4 in class. While starting positions in an endurance race don’t quite matter, it was a good indication that if they could maintain the pace and run with no issues, they’re en route for a podium finish.
Shod with brand new Nitto NT05 tires, John took their red #23 Toyota Vios to the starting grid on a bright and sunny Sunday morning for 8 hours of non-stop racing. He managed to move up to P3 in class during his 1.5 hour stint, but an oil leak forced him to make an unscheduled stop that undid all his hard work. The team was now playing catchup when Fujiwara san was sent out on track. Although the ABS later failed, the Japanese ace was able to maintain pace and manage tire wear before handing the car over to Pao. Despite the setbacks, the team was still running strong up to this point.
Juancho then took over as the race passed its halfway mark where he encountered an unfortunate run-in during a Safety Car period. A late deployment caused him to inadvertently overtake another car by mistake, earning him a drive through penalty. After a solid 1 hour of driving, Fujiwara san got back in the car for his 2nd stint before the final driver change of the race. Juancho drove for the last 1.5 hours, which was mostly trouble free. However, he had to slow down his pace to conserve fuel and successfully make it to the chequered flag.
In the end, Obengers Racing Nitto Tires would cover 179 laps in total to finish the 8 Hour Endurance Challenge in 4th place amongst the Class 2 and Open B runners.
Pao Agregado, Team Manager: “It was a very eventful race. We had good pace for our class, but because we had to do 2 extra stops we were short of a podium finish. Still, we’re happy to have made it to the finish. There were a lot of highs and lows this season, from our podium finish during the 4 Hour event and our DNS during the 12 Hour race. But I am very pleased with our overall performance and to have finished strong in 2023. We now look forward for the upcoming season and come back even stronger.”
Obengers Racing now offer arrive-and-drive packages for 2024. Interested drivers may contact Pao Agregado at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0917-548-2386.
Obengers Racing Nitto Tires is supported by Nitto Tires Philippines, Motul Philippines – Infiniteserv Int’l, Toyota Balintawak Inc., Energizer Automotive, and Enkei Wheels.
For more info and the latest updates, follow the Obengers Racing page on Facebook.
[Photos courtesy of Petron Makabayan Cup Endurance Race Challenge Series]