The country’s best drivers in slalom and autocross — Milo Rivera, Jevoy Moreno and lady driver Gabie Desales — teamed up to bring home a fantastic, top three finish in the first leg of the Asia Auto Gymkhana Championship (AAGC) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia recently.
The AAGC attracted 39 drivers from the region to compete in a one-make competition. The event was held under the city lights of the progressive city of Yogyakarta in the island of Java, with the tracks changed regularly to give the drivers a new challenge every time they were out on their heat runs. No practices were allowed, and this proved to be a challenge for the drivers.
The Philippine team’s result was even more commendable as it was formed in a very short time and had to beat 10 of the 12 countries that participated in the team competition. First place went to host country Indonesia and second to Thailand. The drivers of the top two teams were familiar with the right-hand drive (RHD) Toyota Aygas (locally known as Wigo), while members of the Philippine contingent were more familiar with left-hand drive cars.
“The toughest challenge was jumping into a right hand drive car after years of not driving one,” said two-time Asian Gymkhana champion Rivera before the race.
“Gymkhana required a lot of handbrake pulling and I had to get the hang of it right away. Too bad I was knocked out just when I was getting confident with the RHD car,” he added.
Rivera missed the 2018 AAGC season because of his tight racing schedule in the country.
Moreno had a good run in the early stages, with him getting a grip on handbrake turns with the little Aygas. Unfortunately, the car’s RHD configuration made him hit a
pylon in the individual competition, which prevented him from advancing.
In the final individual classification, Rivera landed in eighth and Moreno in ninth.
A new feature of the event for 2019 was the inclusion of a female driver in the team competition, and the young Desales held her own to push the team up to third overall.
“I’m still in awe for having been given the opportunity to compete internationally,” explained Desales.
“To me, the best thing about the AAGC format is having an equal playing field for both genders by not including a ladies’ class. There is quite a small gap we have to fill but this is just the beginning,” she said.
The next AAGC round will be in South Korea on August 31 to September 1, with the Philippine team hoping to turn out a better performance.
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