Continuing its mission of promoting motorsports and igniting a passion for the sport among Filipinos, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Academy (TGRA) Philippines is back this year for yet another run. TGRA is part of leading mobility company Toyota Motor Philippines’ motorsports program in conjunction with its one-make-race series, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup.
TGRA aims to provide an avenue for race enthusiasts to get started on the sport through practical training led by industry professionals. This 2022, TGRA welcomed a number of neophytes and first-time racers to the tracks.
“What’s very important about having these newcomers join the class is it means that there is really a lot of interest out there to participate,” said JP Tuason, lead instructor for TGRA.
The importance of the race academy
Being the first and only program of its kind in the Philippines, TGRA aims to offer a platform for aspiring racers and motorsports fans to get professional training combined with a heart-racing driving experience.
“Through the Toyota Gazoo Racing Academy, we give our students a proper, safer venue instead of racing on the streets. At the same time, they will learn the proper way of driving. I think it’s a very good program for Toyota to reach out to the young ones,” said Ferdinand Ong, race director for the Toyota GAZOO Racing Vios Cup and one of the instructors during the TGRA class.
TGRA is divided into two levels. The first level teaches racers the basics of driving a car geared for racing. Activities during the level one training include braking, follow-the-leader and slalom exercises. The level 2 class is designed to teach more advanced racing skills to those looking to become professional racers. With these specialized lessons, Toyota aims to push the limits of participants for them to become better drivers.
For the love of racing
Drawn together by their love for racing, racing students, both young and young-at-heart, zoomed through the Clark Speedway during the TGRA classes.
“When I got the chance to join the Academy this year, I jumped at that opportunity,” said Carla Lizardo, one of the participants during the 2021 Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup Autocross Challenge. “I love it. I was able to learn so much in a day. I really wanted to dive into the details of racing, and I got that today.”
Felvin Gurrea, a participant who took both level one and two training sessions with TGRA, also shared his thoughts on the experience. “Toyota Gazoo Racing Academy is really helpful because it teaches you the basics before you move to the next step in racing. It’s a very organized racing academy and they take care of you until you learn,” he said.
Felvin, who is set to compete in the upcoming 2022 Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup, recorded the fastest time and was recognized as first placer in the slalom exercise during the TGRA class. When asked why he joined the Academy and why he looks forward to the upcoming Vios Cup, he answered simply: “I love the challenge, the thrill and the adrenaline.”
The TGRA classes also proved to be a unique shared experience with the family for several participants. Father and son Darwyn and Ethan Mercado both joined the TGRA and raced side-by-side during the classes.
“What I really treasure is the time together,” said Darwyn. “We would like to thank Toyota for bringing this kind of program to the Philippines. For my son and me, this has been a bonding experience.”
Similarly, Jesse and Joshua Marquez also attended the TGRA event at the Clark Speedway together. Joshua is an avid fan and participant of motorsports activities, including cart racing and simulation racing. This year, Joshua has decided to venture into car racing, thus joining the TGRA. Having driven the Clark Speedway via simulator in the past, Joshua says that driving it in real life is at once a new but familiar feeling.
“Experiencing that for the first time is surreal. It’s a pinch-yourself moment that I’m actually here,” Joshua said.
Jesse, who came to support his son Joshua during the classes, expressed that TGRA was a step toward Joshua’s dream of joining the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup.
“I wanted Joshua to try the academy first before transitioning from cart to car,” Jesse shared. “As far as I’m concerned, whatever his dreams are, we support him as a family.”
Ready, set, start!
For those looking to jump-start their journey to professional racing, TGRA Philippines continues to accept participants for the 2022 classes.
“We believe that the racing class is not only an experience but also an investment. By coming to the class, they invest in themselves to become better drivers,” said JP Tuason. “Whether you want to become a professional race car driver or you just want to become a better driver on the road, this is the place to start.”
The next session of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Academy Level 1 will once again take place at the Clark Speedway on June 26, 2022. To apply, you may register through the following https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdc0eSGFEmoZTWK55sfqZGqJEErs1xbqWkN18bUpr7WHiRGpQ/viewform.