Qualifying pole in class on Saturday, Obengers Racing Nitto Tires were in high hopes for the 12 Hour Kalayaan Cup happening the next morning. But by daybreak, it was clear to everyone in the team that it was game over even before the lights turned green, ending their chances at a possible podium finish.
Their Motul-liveried #23 Toyota Vios touring car was back in action after suffering a transmission failure during the 4 Hour Enduro back in April. It ran flawlessly around the Clark International Speedway (CIS) during the early tests on Thursday and was setting good time. A 2:24.650 on fresh Nitto NT01 tires was the fastest lap it achieved and was over two seconds faster than the next Class 3 entry.
With everything set for Sunday’s race, the team then decided to limit the sessions on Friday free practice in an attempt to preserve the car. Yet, it was still the quickest car in class on track.
Pao Agregado, who also acts as Team Manager, was chosen to set the time in Qualifying on Saturday afternoon. After a few setup adjustments, he managed a 2:26.015 out on a flying lap which was good enough for pole amongst the Class 3 entries and surprisingly strong P10 overall out of a 19-car grid.
The team’s strategy was for Thomas Raldorf to take the start at exactly 6 o’clock in the morning. He would then drive a 2-hour stint before handing the car over to Pao, then back to rain-master Thomas who should be behind the wheel once the rain is expected to pour. Junior karting champion Bern Corpino, who was scheduled to make his touring car race debut, was supposed to get in the car next. Fellow karter Raymond Cudala would take the wheel after his stint before Bern jumps back in and take Obengers Racing Nitto Tires to the chequered flag with a class podium (or win).
It was all going to plan so far.
However, something unexpected happened during the compulsory post-Qualifying scrutineering. Their #23 machine suddenly refused to start after several passes on the dyno, which required the team to pull an all-nighter to fix. But despite all their efforts and working until daybreak, Obengers Racing Nitto Tires had to admit defeat as they couldn’t make it to the start of the race.
Pao Agregado, Team Manager: “A lot of missed opportunities at the longest endurance race of the season. The team had good pace and was consistent during testing all the way through Qualifying. We would have started pole in class and 13th on the grid ’til the car refused to start after scrutineering on Saturday. Our mechanics worked until sunrise to fix the issue, but despite their valiant efforts we failed to make it to the start of the race. Even though we had disappointing results, I’d like to thank everyone’s support in this endeavor whatever challenge we face. The team vows to come back even stronger for 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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[Photo courtesy of Petron Makabayan Cup]