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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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!