Aira Medrano, Dimple Napat, Gabie Desales, and Kathy Villar became the very first all-female racing team to take on the Philippine Endurance Challenge (PEC). They entered the Petron x 8 Oras ng Pilipinas last December 2 to encourage more women to take up motorsports. Of course, they also wanted to win except that an ‘unforeseen circumstance’ prevented that from happening.
Their #11 Team Shell Helix Ultra Honda Civic EK was a serious contender in the FM-2 and FM-3 categories. These ladies qualified P18 overall out of a 32-car field and was actually 3rd quickest in FM-3.
Their 8-hour mission began at exactly 8:30 AM on Sunday with Kathy first in the driver’s seat. Aira was next, followed by Dimple, then Gabie, each one spending around 60 to 90 minutes behind the wheel. The girls’ well-timed driver changes and pit stops started to pay off with the #11 car climbing up to P14 overall by the race’s halfway point.
Aira would jump back in the car for another stint in the afternoon. As the quickest driver in the group, her goal was to close the gap and chase after a class podium before stopping for 1 last driver change ’til the chequered flag.
However, the girls’ hopes for a strong finish went up in smoke when their #11 machine suddenly caught fire. Aira’s quick actions and full racing gear allowed her to escape with no injuries. Although the safety crews were able to extinguish the blaze, their beloved ‘white stallion’ sadly gave up the ghost with only 2 hours left on the clock.
All in all, Team Shell Helix Ultra’s all-female racing team succeeded in completing 124 laps in total around the Clark International Speedway (CIS).
Despite the DNF, there were still a lot good points to come out of their experience. In Aira’s 9 years of racing, she was able to set a new personal lap record of 2:22.595 in a car. Kathy’s determination to get as much seat time as possible saw her do a solid a 1.5 hour stint. Dimple also set a new personal best by dicing with other faster drivers. Likewise, Gabie concluded her debut year in circuit racing by shaving more than 6 secs off her previous record.
Gabie Desales, Team Captain: “Each member contributed their strengths helping us reach the sixth hour of the race. Although we weren’t able to finish, I felt that we had a great chance of winning. The important thing was that no one was harmed during the incident. Also, it was a great way to end the season with the team’s #2 car overall win. Above all, we are extremely grateful to Team Shell Helix Ultra for giving us the opportunity to be a part of the biggest race of the year.”
Team Shell Helix Ultra is sponsored by Shell Helix Ultra, Shell V-Power, Big Chill, Lubestraders Corporation, and SAS Shipyard Inc.