It's back! After a year's absence, the GITI-Formula V1 Race Challenge returns anew for another action-packed season.
The opening round took place at the Clark International Speedway this past weekend. Officials enacted strict safety protocols, and the track was closed to the public, with only race crews, media, and invited guests inside.
While a few may have been skeptical, what we've witnessed confirms that the racing spirit is alive and well this season. The athletes themselves looked pumped, as were the race crews, and they appeared to give their all for every match. It was also great to see an assortment of racers and cars, as the event also featured other races like the Sparco Cup, Super Touring Festival, and Classic Cup.
This season’s Formula V1 Race Challenge features a veritable lineup of racers. The Pro Class includes 2019 top contender Jussi Hoikka from the Growl-Thule Racing Team. Also in the same class are Daniel Miranda from Obengers Racing Team, Milo Rivera from Frontrow Racing Team, and Red Diwa from OTR Racing Team.
The AM Class features Sebastien Soto/Julian Neri from Autoholic Raceform, Aira Medrano/Joaquin Garrido from Phoenix Racing Team, Julian Colvin Tang from Obengers, and Cesco Dino from Edgesport Racing Team.
With that said, let's look back at the event's results. The 1st race presented itself as a feeling-out period for the competitors. Presumably caused by rust and time off from the track, the racers started slowly and tentatively. As more and more laps passed, things returned to full swing, and they never looked back.
Daniel Miranda finished in 1st place, recording a total time of 29:40.692. Milo Rivera was a mere three seconds behind with a record of 29:45.090. Red Diwa and Jussi Hoikka placed third and fourth, respectively.
Leading the AM Class was Julian Colvin Tang, who recorded an impressive 29:55.598. Rounding out the finishers are Julian Neri, Joaquin Garrido, and Aira Medrano. Cesco Dino was unable to finish, only recording one lap. Notably, Sebastien Soto was disqualified in the 1st race due to an underweight car.
The athletes looked decidedly more confident during the 2nd race. Each racer handled the track better, and everyone managed to secure a finish. Miranda dominated anew, posting a record of 26:33.014. He was tailed by Rivera, who again came three seconds behind with 26:36:331. Jussi Hoikka bagged a podium finish with his record of 26:46.890.
Julian Colvin Tang managed to leapfrog Pro-Class racer Red Diwa for a 4th place finish. The 5th place Diwa joined the rest of the AM Class, who all finished later than 27 minutes.
After a night of rest, everyone came in for the 2nd day of racing with a charged attitude. Each racer was eager to do better and make themselves known in the standings. The 3rd race threatened to be more of the same, but Milo Rivera made sure that wasn't the case.
Rivera finally placed 1st in a tightly-contested two-person race between him and Daniel Miranda, who got a taste of 2nd place while trailing three seconds behind. Rivera finished with 26:25.599, while Miranda finished with 26.28.344. Red Diwa bounced back for a podium finish, while Jussi Hoikka dropped down to 4th place.
The 4th and final race of the 1st round was the most anticipated, and for a good reason. Miranda and Rivera's back-and-forth exchange was poised to be the start of a season-defining rivalry—until it ended in heartbreak.
From the get-go, it was again Miranda and Rivera leading the pack. Late in Lap 4, Rivera closed in on Miranda and overtook him as the small crowd roared. Miranda fired back and took the lead once again, which prompted Rivera to perform an ill-fated corner passing maneuver.
The move proved too difficult, perhaps not for the man but his car, as the vehicle succumbed to damage, and Rivera was effectively taken out of the race. The Growl-Thule racer was visibly distraught as he made his way back to his crew.
It didn't end there, however. Miranda coasted the rest of the way, recording a total time of 26:31:994. Hoikka followed him with 26:52:480. Miranda believed he had secured 1st place, as did many, but a steward's decision dropped him to 2nd place. Miranda was visibly in disbelief but eventually gave way to Hoikka, who bagged 1st place. While Joaquin Garrido finished third, race rules dictated that Milo Rivera join the podium in 3rd place.
It was a heartbreaker for Rivera, his crew, and everyone else, as many wondered what could have happened had he stayed in the race. But that's racing. The unexpected happens when you least expect it, and you have to roll with the punches to win it all. All we know is, we're excited to see whether Miranda and Rivera can reignite their rivalry or if someone new will emerge as a contender. Perhaps Hoikka can rise above again to take the trophy home? We'll have to wait and see.
If this 1st round is a teaser for what's to come, racing fans will have a lot to look forward to this season. The 2nd round of the GITI-Formula V1 Race Challenge 2021 will happen on December 5 and 6, 2021. Fans are in for a treat, as they can watch the 1st round on Tuason Racing's Facebook page this October. Races 1 and 2 will air on October 20, while Races 3 and 4 will air on October 27.