The Philippine contingent figuratively stepped on the gas right away in the opening round of this year's edition of the Suzuki Asian Challenge (SAC) 2017, starting out strong with a historic pair of wins in the said competition.
The Suzuki developmental program pits 16 aspiring MotoGP racers from nine countries—Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand—against one another. The country's representatives April King Mascardo, Eane Jay Sobretodo, and Mario Borbon, Jr. (SAC 2016 last leg Race 2 winner) now hold a comfortable lead in the championship after Round 1.
The first race saw Mascardo not only clinched the pole position, but also broke last year's record by less than two seconds with the fastest lap time of 1'57.66. In the end, though, it was Borbon, Jr. who weathered the slippery and wet track and captured the season's initial top podium win.
Race 2 was a different story, however, as Mascardo took advantage of an unfortunate collision involving Sobretodo, who shared the lead with him during the first laps, to blow past the competition and give the country its first back-to-back triumphs in SAC history.
The consecutive victories, which was also a grandslam win in Round 1, ensured that the Philippine national anthem will be played in Johos for the first time, and two days in a row in a single race series at that.
Laying the foundation
Everyone is praying for team Suzuki Pilipinas to sustain this run all season long in the hopes of winning it all. Round 2 of the SAC 2017 will be held at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand from April 14 to 15; Round 3 will be at the Suzuka International Circuit in Japan from June 3 to 4; Round 4 will be at the Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia from August 12 to 13; and the final round will happen back in Chang from December 2 to 3.
Good luck, boys!