The Suzuki Philippine Challenge is an event hosted by Suzuki Philippines featuring the main category with the same event title which serves as the qualifier to determine the country’s delegates to the Suzuki Asian Challenge (SAC) season this 2016. This is in support of the brand’s developmental program to hone future MotoGP champions headed by SAC General Manager Yukio Kagayama. The program commenced in 2015 with 17 riders from 9 Asian countries alongside the brand’s big comeback on the racetrack. Following the Japanese giant’s commitment to develop future MotoGP racers, and eventually champions; Suzuki searches for new batch of Asian riders to join its class of 2016 who will participate at the Suzuki Asian Challenge (SAC). The SAC runs in conjunction with the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) featuring a single-make race on a Suzuki Raider R150. The SAC will form the base of a structured program that will eventually spearhead Suzuki’s efforts to groom riders from the Asian region. The collaboration with the ARRC is the result of Suzuki’s intention to also train up more Asian talents who may one day race for Suzuki in the MotoGP. Representatives from Asian nations will compete with each other to find out who will reign in this exciting event. This year, three delegates will join the class from the Philippines forming part of Team Suzuki Pilipinas.
April King Mascardo, the country’s frontrunner to SAC 2015 automatically got the first slot. Suzuki Philippines is searching for two more riders to complete Team Suzuki Pilipinas. One rider each from Luzon and VisMin will join him in this developmental journey. Fourteen qualifiers (Top 6 from Luzon and Top 8 from Vismin) competed for these slots at the Suzuki Philippine Challenge Finals. These 14 riders are the top performers of the Suzuki Philippine Challenge – an R150 one make race category of the Repsol Road Racing Championship (Luzon) and the Regional Underbone Grand Prix (RUGP) (VisMin) Top contenders of the Suzuki Philippine Challenge Finals of Luzon and VisMin automatically qualified for a slot at the Suzuki Asian Challenge. The slot for Luzon, however was given to the succeeding finisher Eane Jaye Sobretodo due to McKinley Kyle Paz’ prior commitment with a local racing group. Eane Jaye Sobretodo will join returning SAC player Mario Borbon and April King Mascardo at SAC races this year.
Team Suzuki Pilipinas did a promising performance during the first season of the Suzuki Asian Challenge. Comprising of Luzon’s Enzo Rellosa, Visayas’ Mario Borbon and Mindanao’s April King Mascardo; the team took home one podium finish and impressive times during SAC 2015. Mascardo took home a third place trophy during the third round of SAC held at the Suzuki International Circuit which is considered as one of the most difficult racetracks in the world.
Despite having very limited training in circuit racing because these boys are used to shorter and track-converted-parking lots, their time improved hugely. At the end of the season, Mascardo finished at 7th place with Borbon and Rellosa securing the 12th and 13th places respectively.
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