International race and rally veteran Mike Potenciano surprised even himself when he posted the best time in the Petron-Clark Global City Rally of Champions (ROC) tarmac round last Saturday at the sprawling road course in Clark Global City, Pampanga.

In a thrilling battle with 15-year-old Iñigo Anton, Potenciano ran just 0.03 second faster than the racing prodigy to clinch the fastest time in the final run of the Petron-Clark ROC.

Iñigo set the bar high with a time of 1:42.76 (minutes) in the one-lap shootout using the Honda City with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.

Potenciano20200201 - Potenciano still roars, wins by 0.03 seconds in ROC
Mike Potenciano (center) leads the winners of the Petron-Clark Global City Rally of Champions tarmac round held last Saturday in Clark, Pampanga. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Carlos Anton, Iñigo’s father, was next to run, but made a slower run of 1:44.34 after making a slight mistake. Subic’s Jeff Soberon made 1:46.65 and Raul Tuason clocked in 1:48.64.

Potenciano made the last run at night and all knew was he would be the last one that could overtake the leading father-and-son Anton duo.

The veteran racer took the Honda to the limit, almost colliding with the curb, to carve out the best time of 1:42.73, just 0.03 of a second faster than Iñigo’s time.

“I couldn’t believe it!” said Potenciano amid the cheers of the crowd. “I don’t think anyone expected me to beat Iñigo after he posted that time, which was more than 1.5 seconds clear of Carlos. I just didn’t think of it and concentrated on doing a clean run. Luckily, there was still grip with those Michelin tires and the Honda didn’t lose power.”

“I came close to a couple of curbs and I heard people cheering when I crossed the finish line. When I went to the pits, people were congratulating me and that’s when I heard I got it by the slimmest of all margins, 0.03 of a second! Now that’s really close and so happy to have won one in this very competitive Legends class!”

Carlos made the best time of the day in his earlier run in the ROC Present Division with 1:41.48. His three combined times was 5:07:80, giving him first place in the Present Division.

Son Iñigo settled for second place with 5:12.35.

The ROC Past Division was won by Potenciano with his total time of 5:21.03 for three runs. His closest rival was JR Costales, who took second place with 5:24.80.

The Masters Class was very tight with defending champion Raul Tuason winning by only 0.5 second over erstwhile opponent Mon Dizon, who hit a pylon.

The two biggest fields were the ROC Futures and Qualifiers divisions.

The Future Division, where future champions from the lower Qualifiers Class have moved up, was won by slalom novice driver and Pertua driver Karol Collantes. His combined time of 5:19.58 was almost 5 seconds faster than young driver Adriel Pacis. The third place went to Soberon after a great battle with Pacis that separated them by only 0.5 seconds.

In the newbies’ Qualifiers Class, the fast Raffy Dizon amazed everyone with a time of 7:11.60 for four runs. He was followed by his older brother Ryan, with more than 13 seconds off after hitting pylons along the way. Third went to the winner of three rounds in this class Andrew Tuason, who was 4 seconds down. Lady driver Rocel Alejar came out in fourth place and the day’s top female driver.

The next round will be on March 14 to 15 during the Clark Global City Festival where flying of hot-air balloons and musical events will be held alongside the hosting of races to make the weekend truly a fun-filled one. For more information, please check MP Turbo Rally of Champions in Facebook and www.mpturbo.com.

THE TIMES

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