Top-class racing action under the scorching heat was witnessed at the Clark International Speedway during the recently held 2022 Formula V1 Challenge 4HR endurance race.
Coinciding with the Petron Bonifacio Cup Endurance challenge, the season-ender of the Formula V1 Championship proved to be one of the most crucial race weekends of the year as overall titles and a race seat to Japan were still up for grabs.
Fresh from his hat-trick of a sweep during the sprint rounds just a month prior, Milo Rivera of Edgesport Racing Team, entered the endurance weekend with just an 18-point lead over closest rival, John Dizon of Obengers Racing Team in the PRO Class.
Given that the four-hour showdown served as a X4 points multiplier, Rivera’s championship lead was still very much reachable.
On the other hand, Bryan Co, who is GITI Racing’s top driver this season, was 3rd in the AM class standings prior to last weekend. Since the endurance race required a PRO and an AM driver to merge forces to compete, Rivera and Co teamed up to solidify their respective championship campaigns.
Under the merged GITI – Edgesport Racing Team, Rivera and Co drew first blood as they claimed pole position with a qualifying time of 2:10.623 – just shy of a second faster than Joaquin Garrido and co-driver Oliver Aquino of OTR – Obengers Racing who qualified second (2:11.546), with the Obengers Racing tandem John Dizon and Julian Tang qualifying third (2:13.130).
With the grid advantage for the start, the #41 GITI-Edgesport race car did not look back as it made an exemplary launch off the line with the Manila Standard Motoring editor Rivera behind the wheel.
“The first task of the race was to definitely get a good start; we wanted to dictate the pace from the get go. I told myself to just make sure I exited turn one with the lead, then we can build on from there,” said Rivera, who did just that.
Proving that his pole position lap time was no fluke, Rivera immediately started building a gap that kept increasing to as much as 10 seconds as the laps went on.
To complement the gap Rivera had built early on, flawless fuel stops and driver changes were made throughout the race thanks to the top expertise of the Edgesport racing crew.
“Because of how seamless our strategies and executions were, a lot of weight was taken off me. I just had to do my thing and take care of the car once I was called to replace Milo during the driver changes,” said Co who took over the wheel at the 90th minute mark of the race.
At that point, the tandem was only leading the Obengers race car of Dizon and Tang by only 30 seconds, but Co was unfazed by the situation as he delivered consistent lap times to avoid the others from closing in.
In addition, a perfectly timed pitstop during a safety car situation at two-thirds racing distance proved to be the crucial moment of the race as Co immediately dove into the pits for refueling and a final driver change, bringing the Petron and Frontrow sponsored driver Rivera back in control.
Rejoining the field, Rivera continued his push, overlapping his main competitors during his stint. With less than an hour to go in the race, all Rivera had to after his final refueling stop was to nurse the car home as he had already built a two-lap lead over everyone else.
The “perfect weekend” was capped off with Rivera taking the checkered flag for GITI – Edgesport Racing, completing 96 laps after four hours.
The Obengers racing pair of Dizon and Tang finished second, completing 94 laps, with Garrido and Aquino clinching 3rd with 91 laps after suffering mechanical issues mid race.
The endurance race win served as a huge bounce back for Co as he climbed his way to bag the AM Class overall championship.
Meanwhile, the win also marked a full season sweep for Rivera as not only did he clinch the PRO class championship, but also the 2022 Formula V1 Challenge overall crown – setting history as the only siblings to each win the coveted title after his younger brother Estefano claiming the championship last 2019.
“Motorsports will forever be a team sport. Without the endless efforts of all those behind us, starting and finishing the race wouldn’t even be possible. Maraming salamat to everyone at GITI – Edgesport Racing Team for not just helping me cross the checkered flag this season, but for also winning it all! Countless thanks also go out to all those who’ve made this season a very fruitful and memorable one. It’s time to call it a season, but I can’t wait for what 2023 has in store,” shared Rivera on his social media account.
As part of their awards as champions in their respective classes, Rivera and Co have each earned a ticket to race in Japan next year using the same open-wheel Vita race cars.
“It’s such a blessing for me to even race abroad as this will be my first time. I will definitely cherish this win and the experience I’ll be having come next year. Thank you so much to GITI Tires Philippines for the endless support and I hope that successes like this would continue on from here,” added a jubilant Bryan Co.