“Will it rain?” was the big question coming into the second round of the GITI-Formula V1 Challenge, presented by Tuason Racing and Phoenix Pulse and also supported by West Race Cars Japan, OMP, AEG Powertools, Phoenix Accelerate, Rota, Oakley, Eurasia and Don Papa Rhum.
Coming in as another supporter is Eurasia Motorsports. They have provided a special testing at Sepang, Malaysia on board a Formula Masters car for one of 2019’s winners. This significant opportunity achieves the goal of Formula V1 to provide a complete stepping stone for Filipino Racers to compete in global motorsports.
So with the 2nd leg of the series being a pivot point for race leaders as they compete for a chance to race in Suzuka, Japan in December against the Formula V1 or Vita champions of Japan, a slippery race in the rain was surely something they wanted to avoid.
While the weather held for the first QTT session of the weekend–letting young phenom Alex Brown grab pole position with a 2:11.391 time, despite this being his first competition at CIS–a strong downpour occurred during practice that cut the sessions short. While there were fears that the race wouldn’t push through, it abruptly stopped early enough that the opening Race 4 would be contested on a semi-damp track.
The slick conditions didn’t slow down the reigning series leaders though, as Ryo Yamada of Cleanfuel Racing Team and Alex Brown of AEG-Toyota Balintawak Obengers held onto first in the Pro and AM Classes respectively. Estefano Rivera of Toyota Otis Obengers finished in 2nd, and Stefan Ramirez of Ensport/Fourth Floor Racing claimed 3rd in Pro–a result that mirrored their rankings in QTT. In AM Class, Red Diwa of OTR Racing claimed 2nd place and was joined by CRT’s Dominic Roque for his first taste of the podium as the racing celeb finished 3rd–on his birthday, no less. An excellent finish considering he started back in 13th place.
Race 5 claimed several casualties as Stefan Ramirez went wide on the first lap and was unable to finish, while Alex Brown locked up and ended his race off-track as well. This opened the door for Estefano Rivera to edge Ryo Yamada out to win 1st place by less than a second–despite the Japanese driver reeling off the fastest lap of the session. Raymond Ronquillo of Frontrow Racing Team rounded off the top three in the Pro Class.
In the AM Class, Red Diwa moved up to 1st, followed by Shane Henderson of A.Line Autosport and another podium debut: Phoenix’s Pulse Young Driver Winner, Raffy Rabe finished in 3rd, continuing his rapid progression. After a late start to his race season and lack of testing due to an off track excursion in practice Raffy is starting to show the potential that was seen during the selection process for the Phoenix young driver program.
Race steward Rupert Crook was especially pleased with proceedings, stating that “it was a clean race with battles all over the field. No penalties and no problems–which is what we like to see!”
During the final race of the weekend, the grid looked like they had comfortably settled into their positions–until the safety car came out for the recovery of Red Diwa who spun out and was stranded in a blind area of the track. With everyone back to square one, Ryo Yamada pushed Estefano Rivera hard to take first place. However, with three laps to go, the drizzle intensified into a heavy shower and Rivera decided to go for glory. He successfully overtook the Japanese driver in the hairpin and took home first place. Stefan Ramirez, who started at the back after his DNF, climbed back up to finish in 3rd. Three lead exchanges in a race that ended extremely strong.
With a golden opportunity to close their points gap in the final race, Rivera said that, “I was thinking that if I don’t overtake him when it rained [that was it.] I had to take the opportunity. The person in front wouldn’t know the track–if it was wet on the racing line, or when to brake–so I just went for it. In the championship standings we’re pretty close, so I went all in.”
Alex Brown also recovered, gaining 12 places in the first turn, and finished in 1st despite breaking his second gear later in the lap. “That was a pretty good corner!” And when asked how far along he’d rate his progress on using a manual transmission is, he candidly said that, “Well, I’m still 16 and have never driven a manual before this! So I’d say maybe 20%, I have a long way to go.”
Dominic Roque returned to the podium in 2nd, while Shane Henderson slipped to 3rd. Roque credited his finish to the weather because according to him, “Everyone would have a hard time with a wet race, and that makes me feel comfortable kasi equal kaming lahat.” Series veteran Henderson was also unbothered by conditions but conceded that his AM Class competitor simply had the better of him, “we raced in real torrential conditions last year, this was just a bit of rain [in comparison]! But then Dom got past and I couldn’t catch him. I nearly hit him a few times and I thought it’s not worth taking us both out. Better to just take it home and finish in third than not at all!”
With Round 3 featuring double points and a reverse-grid, anything could still happen as the drivers aim to win the championship and the coveted seat at Suzuka Circuit in Japan.
The Giti-Formula V1 Challenge returns to CIS in October! Check out http://www.tuasonracing.com and our Media Partners: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Autocar, Wheels PH, James Deakin, C! Mag, AutoIndustriya, and ESPN5 for more details