While the Petron x 8 Oras ng Pilipinas may not be longest, it most certainly is the most prestigious endurance race in the country with a legacy that spans 9 years. And the 2018 edition just so happens to be its biggest and toughest event by far.
Powered by Petron Blaze 100 Euro 6 and Petron Blaze Racing as the series’ official fuel and lubricant, a record-breaking 32 cars with 122 drivers took on the challenge last December 2 and competed in either the RP, FM-1, FM-2, or FM-3 Classes. However, as a testament of the race’s brutality, only a fraction would ever make it to the finish.
Setting the early pace, the #4 SmartFuel2sRace Honda Civic EG was quickest in qualifying with a 2:10.930 lap set by Australian driver Trent Grubel. But that only earned them bragging rights as there was still 8 hours of racing to go.
True enough, it would lose the lead just an hour into the race that began at exactly 8:30 AM on Sunday.
That status would go to the #1 Tuason Racing Formula V1. This ‘prototype’ was undoubtedly in the a class of its own and lapped the Clark International Speedway (CIS) faster than any car could. Ferdie Ong, Louis Ramirez, Mike Tuason, Milo Rivera, and Shane Henderson asserted their dominance by crossing the finish line with 186 laps and 4 laps ahead of everyone else.
Unfortunately, they could not lay claim as the ‘overall winner’ as their entry was not within the spirit of the 4 main categories. So, who won then?
The battle for this year’s Petron x 8 Oras ng Pilipinas went all the way down to the wire. Despite having very different machines, race strategies, pit stops, and drivers, the 2 main contenders were so evenly matched that only 20.079 secs separated them when the chequered flag dropped. And the 1st across the line was the #2 Shell Helix Ultra Honda Civic FD of Andre Tan, Estefano Rivera, and Paolo Santos who took both the Overall and RP Class victories.
2nd place was still an achievement for the #5 AutoPerformance-Victor Hardware BMW M3 of Francis Aguila, George Apacible, SJ Park, and Stefan Ramirez considering they had to rebuild their engine overnight.
CarPorn x PartsPro Racing’s #26 Mazda MX-5 ND was also a revelation as the nimble, lightweight machine outpaced more potent entries that day. Surely, its all-star driver lineup of Angie King, Allan Uy, Carlos Anton, and Tyson Sy also helped them dominate both FM-1 and FM-2 Classes.
Meanwhile, a pair of Toyota Vios Cup cars dueled all race long for the top spot in FM-3. In the end, Bjorn Ongtiaobok, Francis Dysico, Maila Alivia, and Red Diwa in the #7 Mango Suites x OTR Motorsport entry finished a lap ahead of the #20 Team Cebu x MR Auto Shop of Ate De Jong, Brian Currie, and Willem Waltheer.
And lastly there was Raceform x Ethanworx x Garage 2233 who won the Team Championship with their 3 entries covering 510 laps in total.
Of the 32 starters in this year’s Petron x 8 Oras ng Pilipinas, only 24 successfully made it across the finish line. Some broke down, others crashed, and there was even one that burned to the ground. Clearly, competitors were pushing a lot harder to win in 2018 as compared to previous editions of the event. We can just imagine how much tougher it’ll get in 2019.
The 2018 Petron Philippine Endurance Challenge is sponsored by Petron Corporation, KYB – New SR Special, RECARO, SmartFuels, Staunch Performance x DynoJet, Carporn Racing, Hazardboy Performance, Seiken Japan, Tes Advertising, and Tuason Racing School. It’s supported by 2ndGen Insurance, Aeromed, Driftmob, Pro Simulation Karera (PSK), and Walter Lights and Sounds. Media partners include 9tro Alliance, ABS-CBN Sports and Action, AutoCar Philippines, AutoDeal.com.ph, AutoIndustriya.com, C! Magazine, CarGuide.Ph, Carmudi.com.ph, Ignition.PH, JamesDeakin.Ph, JDM Underground, Manila Bulletin Drive, Motoring Today, Motortech.Ph, Pit Talk Asia, The Score, and Time Attack Manila.