I just love the CAD Racing team! Here is a crew of steering wheel brothers who come from different backgrounds yet actually have more commonality than differences. The respect and synergy of every team member were very obvious. The team has grown since the last time we all got together a year ago to once again race on the legendary Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan. Team Principal Congressman Charlie Cojuangco actually invited me to race but regrettably, I had to respectfully decline since I have yet to be cleared by my doctors to race wheel to wheel since my horrific gardening incident a few years back. Yes, gardening, many of us forget how fragile the human body is.
And talk about wheel to wheel, this time around after only five days before the actual race, the Center for Automotive Development group (CAD) Honda FD2R race car was brought back to life from almost a year in storage to compete against over 120 race cars in the 12-hour Idlers Endurance race! The Honda FD2R Cup car remained mostly unchanged except for new fluids, a new set of suspension on all four corners from TEIN to Aragosta, a better racing seat to accommodate the variable sizes of the 5 designated drivers from Bride to Silverstone, a driver-cooling system to handle the very hot race day, and new brake discs and pads from Works Bell SMR.
Team Manager Anthony Antolin and Kunihiro Iwatsuki were also supposed to drive but they decided to concentrate on supporting the paddock crew headed by chief engineer Jefferey De Leon since the challenges and race rules in this race were far more complex. This race was a completely different challenge for the Philippine racing team. Last year’s 2018 Motegi Champion Cup race series focused on driver experience and honing the car’s capabilities after being dormant for over five years. The Idlers multi-class Endurance race was ten hours longer, had completely different racing rules, and added a full field of 93 cars over last year’s 29!
Champion race driver Pauland Dumlao and the naturally talented Eggy Ong were back, this time Charlie himself wanted to give additional support to the team by taking the lead in strategy as well as pouring his very own driving effort despite the extreme heat and formidable competition! Rounding out the pure Philippine drivers were racers Ton Ramos and Nicolo Fernandez, both of whom brought their own unique positive energies and skill.
Since Charlie, Nicolo, and Ton had not experienced the Motegi track yet, Kunihiro booked 3-hours of CXC simulation racing at the Max Orido Racing facility to help with familiarization. On the day before the actual race, Charlie and Nicolo were able to get seat time at the Motegi Track while the others worked on the rules to help strategize.
It was scorching hot and we got to see, hear, and literally feel a few of the competition as they all did their shakedowns. Unlike last year which was already extremely competitive, the CAD Honda racecar did not have to contend with racecars from Lamborghini, AUDI, FIAT, Volkswagen, MINI, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Caterham, McLaren, Renault, Peugeot, a Honda NSX, multiple BMW M3’s, and a whole lot of Porsche’s that included a few widebody RAUH-Welt Begriff’s (RWB)!
Aside from a few oddities from Tommykaira, an open-top kit car, a noble Citroën 2CV, and a 1st generation Honda Insight Hybrid, the rest of the competitive field had cars from Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, ISUZU, Formula V1, and of course Honda. In fact, in the class that CAD Honda was categorized in, class 2, in a field of 16 cars, the only other Honda was a fully prepped Fit/Jazz.
To cover the non-stop action that began with a very wet rolling start at 8:00 A.M. and ended at 8:00 P.M., Charlie loaned me his #2 out of a very limited 300, 240 bhp Honda Civic Mugen RR car in Milano Red which made my efforts just that bit more thrilling. Aside from karting races being done far from the main track, this race weekend was dedicated to the Idlers Endurance race.
By 3:30 A.M. on race day, fresh from the aftershocks of an earthquake (seriously), the whole CAD team assembled at the paddock to begin preparations as well as attend all the mandatory driver’s meetings. The drivers drew from random envelopes for grid placement. Having over 120 cars on the grid was amazing to see and hear. The Lamborghini’s were ferocious and loud from the beginning until the end. The lone Aston Martin Vantage GT, even when damaged still had the very best soundtrack on the track.
Repeating his solid start like last year, Eggy, a contractor, and builder when he is not on the track, started the race. This time the CAD Honda #168 was not initially bogged down though Eggy ran dangerously wide on turn two but fought hard to get back in the groove. It was his only error. With discipline and perfect coordination, each driver fulfilled their duties expertly. Ton Ramos, an experienced racer and hardcore car guy who trades in cars and aftermarket parts, was next at the helm after the first 55 minutes.; then came Pauland, a prolific businessman who facilitates other businesses with their marketing and creative needs as well as supplies bespoke metallic resins for homes and businesses when he isn’t racing. Nicolo, an energetic architect by trade when he isn’t racing, soldiered on next and out-performed his own expectations! The 5th driver was non other than team principal Charlie who drove like an unfazed master! Just as they all had originally planned and agreed to the night before during dinner, each driver took their strategic sequence with determination and commitment.
The five drivers executed their driver changes very well and all of them drove their finest, car #168 held its tarmac admirably against all odds and so much competition. The chief mechanic and racecar doctor Jefferey De Leon had his hands full with his crew: Ricky Borela, Arjay Berma, Romeo Noveno, Rolando Padilla, Raymond Lontoc, and Bong Malicad once again! Even with all the talent from the five drivers, without his expert tuning, fueling, tire changes, and engineering, especially in a 12-hour endurance race where you simply do not succeed without finishing the race, he was the foundation of the racing effort.
After a challenging and exhilarating 12-hour Idlers Multi-class Endurance Race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan against a 120+ car grid, the Philippine CAD Racing Team achieved a 2nd best in class, 8th in the bracket, and 15th overall!! Please join me in congratulating Team Principal and driver Congressman Charlie Cojuangco, Team Manager Anthony Antolin, support Team Manager Kunihiro Iwatsuki, the incredibly determined, unified and talented driver team members: Pauland Dumlao, Eggy Ong, Ton Ramos, and Nicolo Fernandez, and chief engineer Jeffrey De Leon and his team for their strong results and for Philippine pride!
It was an incredible experience once again to witness Philippine motorsport history being made in person. My heartfelt gratitude for the invitation and congratulations to the whole CAD team and their families. Along with the CAD team, they would also like to recognize their sponsors: Jake International, RAC and Speed Master, Forcedspeed, 602PTG, Worksbell Japan, Silverstone Racing, Motology, AutoSupply.Ph, Akio Miyashita, Wikreate Konzepts, Jake International, RAC, Speed Master, and Primetime Creatives.