Professional racing dreams come true at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup

From esports champions to celebrities like Daniel Matsunaga, these racing enthusiasts have brought their talents to the track for the 2021 season

Thanks to a growing racing community in the Philippines, the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Vios Cup successfully concluded its 2021 season broadcast live on Toyota Motor Philippines online channels. For the past seven years, the TGR Vios Cup has allowed not only veteran racers, but also motorsport enthusiasts to get in on the action.

In the third and final stop of the season, the TGR Vios Cup brought together 49 contenders across four different classes to claim the cup at Clark International Speedway in Pampanga. Here are some stories where car enthusiasts took their racing fantasies to the next level.

From virtual to reality

We can often draw a hard line between sports and esports, each with their own distinct set of competitors, but that’s not the case with TGR. In fact, four of the TGR Vios Cup entrants have also won the 2021 TGR GT Cup, which uses the Gran Turismo Sport video game as its racing platform.

Among those players were Estefano Rivera, Jether Miole and Corban Guerrero, who each competed in the GT Cup. Their prominence in both competitions proves how many professionals share this hybrid love for racing.

For Miole, the experience was exhilarating as he was able to feel everything going on in the car as he accelerated against a virtual race. “If someone like me, a sim pilot, was given a place for the Vios Cup, I would say they shouldn’t pass it up. It was a huge opportunity for someone who was still getting into racing to experience a real race car around a real circuit, so I would recommend it to other GT Cup racers, especially those who want to drive on a real track but don’t cannot for lack of funds to do so,” he shared.

From the GT Cup to the Vios Cup, TGR has continued to provide opportunities for racers to exercise their passion and hone their skills despite the ongoing pandemic.

Platform for passion

Estefano Rivera was among the familiar faces to join the TGR Vios Cup again, having raced three times in previous years and ultimately winning the trophy in the Super Sporting Class.

“I feel very happy and fulfilled to have won the TGR Vios Cup this year. This is my 4th year competing in the Vios Cup and finally winning the championship for the first time is just a huge relief since this championship has been close to [my] heart since… The most difficult challenge I encountered at this level was the importance of consistency in which you cannot win the Vios Cup championship if you are not consistent throughout the year”, a- he shared.

The 25-year-old racer has been on the scene since he was 12, kicking off his career through go-kart racing and then moving on to real cars when he was old enough. He finally had the opportunity to join the Vios Cup with Toyota Alabang and the Obengers Racing group. Just before the pandemic hit, he was competing in open-wheel Formula V1 races and Gymkhana races as well.

After winning a trophy in the 2021 race, he is now taking a little detour helping the rest of his team prepare for the races ahead. “My plan is to focus first and help my teammates [this 2022] become the future champions of the Vios Cup. When it comes to my racing career, I will always be open and ready to compete in local and international competitions once the opportunity arises,” he said.

Celebrities shine on the runway

Continuing the tradition since 2019, the TGR Vios Cup Autocross Challenge continues to provide a springboard for racing enthusiasts from all walks of life. This year’s edition saw a diverse mix of individuals who took up the challenge, including actors like Enzo Pineda, Arron Villaflor and John Manalo; beauty queens like Laura Lehmann and Winwyn Marquez; hosts like Carla Lizardo and Gino Quillamor; and social media personalities like Bianca Yao and Jules Aquino.

For newbie Lehmann, overcoming the high-octane experience was a matter of “reminding myself that it’s okay to step out of my comfort zone sometimes. If we do, we [will] find great things! Following its competitors through a “time attack” obstacle course, the Autocross Challenge prepares aspiring professional racers for the maneuvers that come with full-circuit racing.

“I love that it’s very accessible to those with no experience! Autocross is a great introduction to the sport of racing before engaging in racing against other people on a track. I like how it’s individually done so you don’t have to worry about bumping into other drivers, especially when you’re still inexperienced. Beyond that, the whole race day experience is wonderful – the preparation, the track, the car, the driving, the location,” explained Lehmann.

Quillamor also shared that most of the class entrants were first-time runners. “It was my first time in the TGR Vios Cup. It’s also my first time racing. I mean, I’ve done karts a few times, but never in competition. I was part of the GT Supra Cup, which basically takes place on a racing simulator (Gran Turismo sport),” he said.

“Personally, I think the biggest challenge for me was controlling myself. When you want to finish the course in the shortest possible time, you logically think the best way to do it is to step on it or just go as fast as possible. What autocross teaches you is that it’s not always all about speed. It’s about controlling and tempering that desire to hit the throttle whenever you want do better,” he added.

Going to the pros

This year also saw previous winners of the Circuit Championship Celebrity Class move up to the Promotional Class, a 12-lap circuit race. Models Daniel Matsunaga and Fabio Ide, along with actor Troy Montero, were among many new additions to the promotional class for the 2021 TGR Vios Cup.

“Running in competitions with other racers and different classes is truly unique. You have to challenge those in your class and race against them while being aware of others in different classes so you don’t cause an incident or hurt yourself. tangled in someone else’s race. The competition is fierce and everyone is really good,” Montero said.

Over its seven seasons, the TGR Vios Cup has continuously evolved and proven to be a platform to promote motorsport in the Philippines. It offers motor racing enthusiasts of all experience levels a unique opportunity to share the circuit and grow in their love for the sport.

Toyota has always championed “Pushing the Limits for Better” throughout its events. Whether you’re a pro-gamer or a hardcore hobbyist, the TGR has something for you.

Stay tuned to Toyota Motor Philippines on Facebook for updates on the 2022 season, as well as other experiences that push the boundaries for the better. –

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