Team Mazda Philippines is the 2021 Petron Kalayaan Cup 12-hour Endurance Challenge over-all race champion after completing 274 laps in dominating fashion over 12-hours of non-stop racing. Running a near-showroom stock Mazda MX-5 Miata Spec Series car at the Clark International Speedway last June 12th, the team was able to bag six trophies together with wins in Class 1 and Open A categories for both the 4-hour Kagitingan Cup race and the 12-hour Makabayan Cup.
Driven by endurance racing veterans Allan Uy, Marc Soong and Aaron Guevarra, along with girl driving sensation, Gaby dela Merced, the 2021 Mazda MX-5 raced flawlessly through the 12-hour event. It needed only 6 pit stops to complete the race ahead of 16 other entries. With its fastest lap time of 2:21.186, the MX-5 Miata Spec car eventually finished 9 laps ahead of the second place car.
“We are extremely proud of this achievement of the team and our Mazda MX-5,” says Steven Tan, president and CEO of Mazda Philippines. “The results this year show that aspeed, reliability and fuel efficiency all have to be present to ensure victory in this race. With all these on hand, the MX-5 allowed our drivers to confidently race and keep a competitive pace all throughout the 12-hours. Surely, this championship win was made possible with the hardworking crew, the amazing team spirit we demonstrated, and our belief that we have the best car in the field to give us the best results.”
The two-day race weekend began with team manager, Allan Uy, taking the MX-5 Spec Miata up to P2 on the grid during the Friday qualifying session. The race began on Saturday, June 12th at 5:30 A.M. with the racers having to deal with early morning fog that hampered their visibility. Uy kept the pressure on the pole-sitter with late braking and the superior handling of the MX-5 while staying within the team’s target times to ensure it would race to the finish.
While the tuned race car the team initially raced against had superior horsepower advantage, the Mazda MX-5 Miata Spec car banked on its reliability, along with its lightweight, ease of handling, and fuel efficiency to be in strong contention throughout the dry, overcast race.
An early retirement by the leading entry saw the MX-5 Miata Spec car take over the lead of the race. And the team never looked back as it built a commanding gap to the rest of the field. At one point, the MX-5 Miata Spec car had a 14-lap advantage over the second placer during the last 20 minutes of the race showing its clear advantage over the competition.
The Mazda MX-5’s renowned fuel efficiency allowed the drivers long, unhampered stints letting the team play out its strategy with lesser fuel refills than its competitors. With a cumulative 3.5-hour stint by Marc Soong and a total 3-hour run by Aaron Guevara, Gaby dela Merced finally took over the wheel for the homestretch.
The team was set to eclipse the 2019 lap number record made with a Mazda MX-5 Global Cup race car but a late safety car call in the last 10-minutes of the race slowed down the pack. In the end, dela Merced was able to have just the right amount of fuel to complete another lap and cross the finish line after the 12-hour mark had signified the end of the gruelling race. This year’s 274 final lap count by the showroom-fresh MX-5 matches the record set by the fully-tuned Mazda MX-5 Global Cup race car which won the overall title in the 2019 edition of the Kalayaan Cup.
Billed as the country’s ultimate test of man and machine, the annual 12-hour race makes a comeback this year after being sidelined by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in 2020.