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A Filipino will be representing Asia at the Toyota GR GT Cup Global Finals

Luis Moreno will be joined by Andika Rama from Indonesia

These 15 racers from different Asian countries slugged it out at the TGR GT Cup Asia Finals. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

This past weekend, the 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup Asia Finals were held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A grand total of 15 racers made up the grid, each comprising three representatives from five different Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Representing us were Luis Moreno, Russel Reyes, and Matthew Ang.

These three races made for a very exciting competition. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOYOTA

The prizes for the top spots on the podium? Two seats to represent Asia at the TGR GT Cup Global Finals to be held in Barcelona, Spain, this coming November for the top two, and cash prizes of $6,000 (P341,000), $3,000 (P170,460), and $1,500 (P86,230) for the first, second, and third places for both individual and country championships.

Three grueling races were held at Mount Panorama using the GR Supra GT4, the Tokyo Expressway with the GR Corolla Morizo edition, and Spa-Francorchamps with the GR010 Hypercar.

Even in video games, there can be race-ending problems. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOYOTA

The first leg was held at Mount Panorama (or Bathurst). It had a five-minute qualifying and a seven-lap race. Fadtris Isa (Singapore) qualified on pole, with Taj Aiman (Malaysia) and Dhanesh Wigneswaran (Malaysia) taking second and third.

Unfortunately for Benaya Theo (Indonesia), there was a problem with his game, so he wasn’t able to get the car to shift into gear, resulting in a did-not-start as the rest of the pack overtook him at the start.

Russel Reyes’s favorite track is Mount Panorama, which led him to perform really well for the first half. SCREENSHOT FROM TOYOTA

It was an exciting race especially for our fellow countryman Russel Reyes, who managed to fight his way up to second place before pitting with the rest of the medium-tire runners on Lap 5.

This allowed those who started on soft compound to get track position and undercut the rest of the field.

This spin was a costly mistake for Russel Reyes. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOYOTA

Unfortunately, after a strong race for Russel, a spin after the final turn on the second-to-the-last lap sent him down to P12 with a 1.5-second penalty. This saw Fadtris Isa (P1), Andika Rama (P2), and Ethan Yoh (P3) seizing the podium spots.

After penalties were applied to the two Malaysians (Aiman and Wigneswaran) for causing a collision, this promoted Moreno to P4, while Reyes and Ang finished P12 and P13.

The second race had lots of action thanks to the reverse grid. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOYOTA

Race 2 was a 11-lap, reverse-grid shoot-out around the Tokyo Expressway (East Clockwise layout) with no qualifiers, so Theo, Zaim Rasyad (Indonesia), and Reyes made up the first three spots of the starting grid.

An excellent first lap (and lunge after the first few laps) saw Reyes and Ang snatch the first two places from Theo and Rasyad.

The track is unforgiving, and the walls can cost you the race. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOYOTA

The Tokyo Expressway is an unforgiving street track with no margin for error. It was an action-packed race, with Ang spinning out on the second lap forcing him to the back of the grid, and Reyes hitting a wall, putting him down the order to P8 by the end of the race.

The three-way battle for the first place was intense until the end. SCREENSHOT FROM TOYOTA

This opened up the door for Moreno to work his way up to fourth behind the three winners of the race—Theo, Thanaphat Pungphat (Thailand), and Chong Kai Chang (Malaysia).

A stunning qualifying lap from Luis Moreno essentially sealed his seat for Barcelona. PHOTOS FROM SAM SURLA AND TOYOTA

The third race was a slightly longer affair at Spa-Francorchamps, consisting of a 35-minute, 17-lap race with dynamic weather. During qualifying, Moreno set a blazing fast lap, taking pole position. He was followed by Wigneswaran and Theo.

A race-ending bug happened once again, affecting Aiman and preventing him from starting the race.

The two Filipinos pulled off a gamble that did not end up well. SCREENSHOT FROM TOYOTA

Moreno led the early half of the race, defending well from the likes of Rama and Wigneswaran until he had to pit for fuel on Lap 5.

As the rain got harder, it forced majority of the grid to pit for intermediate tires on Lap 8. Reyes and Ang stayed on their slick compound tires, which was a gamble that backfired horribly but allowed them to gain track position for that brief period of time.

Luis Moreno defended like a lion to ensure his second-place finish in the championship. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOYOTA

Because of this, Moreno came out in the middle of the pack. He had managed to climb up to P3 and defended brilliantly against Pungphat to finish third in that race, also nabbing the fastest lap of the race for those crucial extra points.

The other two on the podium were Wigneswaran (P2) and Rama (P1). This result was all Moreno needed to secure the second spot in the finals, earning him second in the championship thanks to his consistency.

These three are your winners for the TGR GT Cup Asia Finals. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

The three winners of the Asia Finals were Andika Rama in first with 65 points, Luis Moreno in second with 52 points, and Fadtris Isa in third with 49 points. The other awards were:

  • Fastest race pace – Fadtris Isa (Singapore)
  • Best racecraft – Thanaphat Pungphat (Thailand)
  • Driver of the day – Benaya Theo (Indonesia)
  • Country champions:
    • First place – Indonesia
    • Second place – Malaysia
    • Third place – Singapore
These two gentlemen will be representing the entire Asian region this November. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

It was definitely a thrilling and exhilarating series, and we are extremely proud to have a Filipino represent the country on the Global stages of one of the largest e-sports competitions in the world.

Show Asia’s two representatives some love come the finals in November. Let’s go, Luis Moreno!

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.