My bad driving habits were bared at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup

My bad driving habits were bared at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup

After a brief hiatus due to the pandemic, the Toyota Vios Cup — now called the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup — came roaring back and into the collective zeitgeist.

For the better part of the past decade, the Vios Cup has been the proving ground for racers and aspirants alike. Here you have the country’s best-selling car, reaching out to the grassroots of the Philippine racing scene by providing everyone a platform to prove his or her mettle.

Toyota Vios one make on tarmac

This year, Toyota has introduced the Toyota Vios 1.5G CVT as the official one-make vehicle for the autocross challenge. While the seven-speed CVT is plenty capable, in a competitive environment, nothing beats a good old manual transmission, but this ingenious move by the organizers of the Vios Cup further solidifies the purpose of having the events. Using a CVT levels the playing field between novice to experienced drivers. Bringing the fun and spirit of grassroots racing to everyone has always been Toyota Motor Philippines’ goal.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Shirt

I was fortunate enough to have been invited to the event for the Autocross Media Challenge. One might think and hope to join the actual racing event where you get to run the entire Clark International Speedway at triple digits, but you do have to get your feet wet first before diving in, and believe me when I tell you that autocross racing isn’t the walk in the park you might think it is.

Rear of Vios CUp Car

For starters, the roster of participants fielded included my peers in the automotive beat — people who know their way around the steering wheel and the track, either through sheer knowledge or experience. You also have young influencers, trying their hand around the course with the Vios, brimming with enthusiasm and excitement. You can see the hunger and desire in each particpant's  eyes to take home the much-coveted first prize by any means necessary, but we’re sternly reminded to hold our horses and keep ourselves in check.

Instructor on Vios

Under the watchful eyes of the organizers and race officials, we were constantly reminded to check ourselves before we get ourselves (and cars) in trouble, and that last part is an ever clear and present danger. You see, while the festive atmosphere, beautiful people, the smell of burning rubber and fun camaraderie as well as the thrill of competition can become quite intoxicating, presence of mind must be had at all times if you want to complete the course in one piece, let alone win. 

Instructor for vios cup

There was never a moment where we weren’t constantly reminded that safety is paramount over intensity. Practical life lessons were to be had in these proceedings, and were much appreciated by all. Following the set course, accelerating when needed and learning when to stop are all prerequisite know-how that need to be imbibed on the course as well as off it. Never has this been more evident with my own experience on the track. 

Vios CUp Driver

During practice runs, with nothing on the line and cool heads being the order of the day, I was able to gain respectable, even great lap times. Then the real competition arrived and I just completely lost it on the track. Knowing the stakes, I was all over the place, hitting cones, missing marks, I was like a completely different driver from the practice runs.

Vios profile

Being unable to finish was not a great experience. In my desire to finish in the fastest time possible, I only played myself in the process. Watching the footage from the camera I mounted, I noticed myself making all the mistakes I was psyching myself up NOT to make. No, I wasn’t granny shifting and not double clutching as I should, the errors were more avoidable if I only had a clear countenance. Realizing my own mistakes from the course hit me hard and gave me the epiphany, I had really bad driving habits and in this balls-off-the-wall driving course, reality hit me hard.

One make vios side

Autocross, to the uninitiated, may look like a sideshow to the actual event, but that’s where you’re dead wrong. The lessons you learn on the course are the same lessons that you need when driving on the open road: keeping a clear head, setting your eyes toward the road, easing up on the throttle and knowing that sometimes the fastest way to advance is to slow down. 

Toyota Vios Cup Vios

I would like to thank Toyota Motor Philippines for the opportunity to join their Vios Cup event! The next leg will be announced very soon so stay tuned to ZIGWHEELS.PH for more announcements.

Photos by Roy Robles

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