In 2013, Toyota Motor Philippines introduced to the country the Vios Cup - a landmark one-make series that turned the best-selling economy car into a fun and exciting track weapon. While the first race was just an exhibition with celebrity and media drivers, in 2014 it became a full-fledged series, which has gone on to be the biggest motorsport event in the country. AutoPerformance Ph is proud to have been a part of this amazing program, supplying Brembo Premium Aftermarket brake pads for every single Toyota Vios Cup car in the grid.
Toyota understandably cancelled the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is still no confirmation that they will push through with a 2021 campaign. But from 2014 to 2019, there have been so many great moments created by the Vios Cup - and the Vios Racing Festival, as it's now known. There was great racing, wonderful crowds, and some scary crashes (and no, we are not going to show photos or videos of the accidents). Here are six of our favorites from the past six years.
1. Rhian Ramos and Ira Panganiban help baby girl through racing.
In the inaugural season of the Vios Cup, celebrity racer Rhian Ramos and Autocar Editor-in-Chief Ira Panganiban offered to put branding on their cars to raise money to help an infant Alessandra Tirona - daughter of motoring journalist Caco Tirona. The child needed really expensive open heart surgery, and these two offered to help by putting stickers on their cars and posing for photos to anyone who donated. And though AutoPerformance Ph was already a sponsor, we decided to donate a little something anyway to help in whatever way we could.
2. Dominic Ochoa's 360 save in the rain.
Race 4 of the 2014 Toyota Vios Cup was so treacherous, race officials had to stop the race prematurely. Thanks to heavy rain, dozens of spins and incidents littered the track, none more dramatic than actor and eventual 2019 Vios Cup overall champion Dominic Ochoa's. Despite not qualifying great, Ochoa was one of the fastest men in the wet conditions, and was closing in on the race leaders. But upon exiting the final corner of the Clark International Speedway, Ochoa lost the rear of his car and went into a high-speed spin. Displaying amazing car control, he completed the 360-degree pirouette and then kept his foot hard on the gas to keep the car going. Sadly, he had lost the opportunity to recover a podium, but that was easily the most impressive display of car control in Vios Racing history.
3. "Cebu Circuit du Monaco."
Though the Vios Cup has had street races before and after, the 2015 Cebu Leg was easily the most memorable. With gorgeous seaside views and narrow, technical layout, race organizer JP Tuason accurately compared the track to the crown jewel of Formula 1. Adding to the challenge was a narrow section dubbed "the parking entrance" and a dusty, slippery back section that wouldn't be out of place in a rally stage. In this setting, eventual champion Andres Calma reigned supreme, taking pole and the win in both races that weekend. But it was the Cebuano fans that truly shone, as they brought a heightened level of fanfare and excitement that has yet to be matched in seven years of Vios racing.
4. Daniel Miranda's vehicular front flip.
The final lap can bring some thrills, but the most dangerous lap of all is the very first, as 2017 champion Daniel Miranda found out first hand in the final race of the 2016 Vios Cup. Caught in a high speed incident with two other cars, Miranda's Vios got thrown in the air, flipping forward while airborne. It was perhaps the most spectacular race incident ever at the Clark International Speedway. The track safety and medical team rushed to the scene, and amazingly, Daniel was completely unhurt. In fact, he got into a spare Vios race car and competed the very next race that same day, evoking memories of Martin Brundle in the 1996 Australian Grand Prix. Miranda's ordeal was proof of the safety of modern race cars and the build quality of the Toyota Vios.
5. 2018's 5-way Super Sporting title fight.
Going into the final leg of the 2018 Toyota Vios Cup, at least five drivers had legitimate championship hopes, with another five mathematically still in contention. Points leader Keith Bryan Haw, his teammate Estafano Rivera, veteran racer Dominic Ochoa, and teammates Gerard Loy and Michael Bryan Co. With double points at stake, and two races to go in the final leg, there was a lot to play for. Gerard Loy struck first, winning Race 7 (the first race of the third and final leg) and moving up to lead the standings. But in the final race of the day, Dominic Ochoa cemented his claim on the title, winning the race and double points, with fellow championship hopefuls Haw and Rivera coming in 2nd and 3rd. The final results: Ochoa was champion, with Loy 2nd overall and Haw 3rd in what was the most thrilling final race in Vios Cup history.
6. Troy Montero and John Dizon's big shunt.
The final lap is an exciting time for any motor race, especially when cars are jockeying for position. And in the final corner of the final lap of race 5 of the 2019 Vios Racing Festival, celebrity driver Troy Montero tried to pull a move on Sporting Class driver John Dizon which when horribly wrong. The two made contact, which left Dizon's car on its side while Montero hit the main straight wall at over 120kph. At impact, Troy's Vios lifted up in the air and landed violently. Safety personnel got to the site quickly, and while Dizon seemed unhurt, Montero was rushed to the hospital for what eventually was deemed to be relatively minor injuries. It is a testament to the build quality of the new Toyota Vios and the safety measures implemented by the AAP, Tuason Racing and the Clark International Speedway that both drivers were not more seriously hurt despite the horrific nature of the incident. Troy Montero went on to win the Celebrity Class championship that year, while Dizon finished 2nd overall in the Sporting Class.