Coming into the 2022 Philippine Superbike Championship (PSBK) season finale, Access Plus Racing managed to turn a 14 point deficit to win the overall title by a single point. Timothy Joseph “TJ” Alberto was on full attack mode all weekend, winning both races, and securing his second PSBK championship and Ride of the Year crown back-to-back.
TJ and teammate Lawrence Macalinao were both in contention for their respective classes, but were equally down on points. In order to help their chances, the team called up the services of official Ducati test rider Lorenzo Zanetti for the weekend to give the team an extra boost on track.
Despite it being his first competitive outing at the Clark International Speedway (CIS), Lorenzo showed just how good of a rider he truly is. He wasted no time to set pole position in Qualifying with a 1:49.408 lap, shattering the previous track record set by Alberto a year ago. Not to be outdone, the reigning PSBK champion also set a personal best stopping the clock at 1:49.780 to claim P2 on the grid. Lawrence, on the other hand, was 2nd quickest out of the Intermediate Class riders and would line up P7 overall.
All the Access Plus Racing riders would get off to a clean start on Sunday morning with TJ shooting off into the lead as the pack approached Turn 1. Unable to pull away, TJ remained focused despite the constant pressure from behind to reach the chequered flag in 1st place and score maximum points. Lorenzo followed closely behind in 2nd keeping points leader Marvin Mangulabnan on the BMW at bay in 3rd. Lawrence also had a good run in the Intermediate Class finishing 2nd in class and ahead of his championship rival RG Romero was several spots behind.
TJ already had one hand on the 2022 trophy as they all lined up on the grid for the last time this season. If he finishes 1st and Marvin is 3rd or lower, the title was his. Now starting from pole, TJ bolted off the line and never looked back. He had his eyes set on the championship as the laps went by and after 10 laps of racing, TJ crossed the line in 1st with Lorenzo again in 2nd and Marvin in 3rd.
Lawrence ended his debut season with Access Plus Racing with a 1st place finish in the Intermediate Class and 4th on the road. The team’s new recruit enjoyed an impressive year, claiming 5 wins onboard his #26 machine. His best efforts would allow him to finish 2nd in the category, ending the year as Intermediate Class vice champion.
TJ Alberto and Access Plus racing concluded the 2022 season with 9 wins, a pair of 2nd place finishes, and an unnecessary DNF out of 12 races. This was enough for the #77 Ducati Panigale V4 rider to win the Overall and Expert Class Championship, plus the Rider of Year by a single point for the second year in a row.
TJ Alberto, #77: “Really happy to become Philippine Superbike Champion back-to-back. It was a perfect weekend. Good to have Lorenzo around to help the team develop the bike as an official Ducati test rider. We learned a lot from him even it was just for a single race weekend. The last leg was really an all out effort to catch up on points and secure the title. In the end it was really close and we won by 1 point. We did a good season this year happy to now have two PSBK titles under my belt. Excited what 2023 has in store for us.”
Lawrence Macalinao, #26: “What a season it has been with Access Plus Racing. I am very thankful to Toti, TJ, and the whole crew in welcoming me in 2022 and helping me adjust faster. It was not easy learning to ride a new bike and changing my riding style, but there knowledge and inputs helped me adapt quickly and as the season progressed I was able to understand the bike more. There were some challenges during the year, but overall it was a success. I learned a lot working with a champion team and rider. I couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you Ducati Philippines!”
Toti Alberto, Team Principal: “Good job TJ, Lawrence, Lorenzo, and everyone who worked hard in Access Plus Racing to bring us the championship. We had some some ups and downs over the season, but every challenge we faced only made us stronger. So much effort went into 2022 for testing, turning, and honing our race craft. That’s why it really hurt when the points lead was taken away from us in an instant. But we never gave up and came back even harder at the season ender and win Rider of the Year by 1 point. Always thanking the Lord for making this possible”
Access Plus Racing is sponsored by Ducati Philippines, Angkas, Essenza, Frontrow, Katinko, Makati Diamond Residences, Italtrans, Aella, Apex, Extreme Components, Lv8, Macbeth, Ohlins, and STM, with Motoworld and Teagumps.