April 30, 2023

Ongaro takes dominant Philippine Masters win

Back to back World Champion Davide Ongaro gave a master class performance today in Manila to become Champion of the Philippine Masters, Asia’s premiere Offroad race making its return this weekend after a Covid hiatus.  The Team Associated driver’s third trip to the Circulo Verde track, the win of today’s 1-hour final gives the Italian a 100% winning record in the Capital City.  Starting from the TQ, having topped all four rounds of qualifying, with Mayako’s Robert Batlle lining up  second, the huge crowd of onlookers were anticipating an intense battle between the two World class drivers based off Batlle’s faster pace but lack of luck in qualifying.  Unfortunately the finals day wasn’t to be a luckier day for the Spaniard.  Early into the race, his buggy stopped on track as if he had flamed out before throttling up again but this was the start of the failing of his throttle servo.  He would retire just as the race entered the second half.  While Ongaro was in control out front, despite having of moment himself when he flamed out during second fuel stop, it would be freshly crowned Truggy Champion Micha Widmaier who came through for second while a delighted Christian Wolhuter made it two Sworkz on the podium after a good battle with fellow Australian Aaron Dexter.

Summing up his race, today being the hottest of the event, Ongaro said, ‘It was good. It was also long’.  Switching to Matrix’s Nebula tyre for the final to give him a more comfortable car for the hour, he said the tread was the same as he used at the World Championships so he knew what to expect.  Explaining his flame out during the second refuelling he said, ‘My dad had a problem with the fuel gun but for the other stops it was all ok’.  While he always had a comfortable lead, the 22-year-old added ‘it was not easy, there was a lot of traffic’, the race having 15 starters.  Conscious of the high temperatures, he said he had established a lead he was driving safe and cruising so as not to risk overheating the servo or battery pack.

Commenting on his race, Widmaier said, ‘I always knew Davide and Robert were going to be faster than me so I just drove my own race’. Having had a late night as a result of going to the hospital following an insect bite that became infected, this meant he missed the A-Main practice as he tried to catch up on sleep after his overnight ordeal.   The German said this led to his flame out on his first stop as he hadn’t been able to calculate his run time for today’s noticeably hotter conditions.  Adjusting his timings for the rest of the final he said they had no issues after that.  While his ‘whole package worked great’, he said the second half of the race was somewhat of a physical struggle with his leg on which he got the bit starting to hurt and for the last 20-minutes he struggled with his concentration so he was pleased to reach the finish in second.

While his race didn’t get off to a good start, Wolhuter switched to playing the long game and it paid dividends.  Starting from 8th on the grid, he said he got caught in traffic and lost focus resulting in him finding himself quickly down in last position.  With his dad reminding him over the pit radio that there was a long race ahead, the 16-year-old said he focused on consistency rather than speed and this helped him climb back up the order to make the podium and finish top of the large contingent of Australians who made the trip to the Philippine Masters.

Missing out on the podium having finished on the same lap as Wolhuter, Dexter still summed up his race as ‘pretty good’.  Staring and finishing 4th, the Team Associated driver had a unfortunate tyre issue when he lost the insert from the front right tyre.  Running 8:45 between stops, meaning he had one less stop, the 21-year-old was in the battle for the podium until this but overall he was happy with his showing over the past few days.


1. DAVIDE ONGARO (1) – 90/1:00:31.702
2. MICHA WIDMAIER (3) – 86/1:00:01.964
3. CHRISTIAN WOLHUTER (8) – 85/1:00:17.448
4. AARON DEXTER (4) – 85/1:00:40.106
5. JACKSON BEALE (5) – 84/1:00:19.857
6. ZAC RYAN (12) – 84/1:00:31.393
7. JOMIL DELA CRUZ (9) – 84/1:00:34.718
8. DINO JACINTO (7) – 83/1:00:15.031
9. ADRIAN WICAKSONO (10) – 83/1:00:25.428
10.BEN PANIC (14) – 82/1:00:18.689
11.DANIEL MIRANDA (6) – 81/1:00:03.861
12.JASON NUGROHO (11) – 79/1:00:06.655
13.CLEMENTE PANCHO (13) – 76/1:00:45.236
14.HARRY SIMMS (15) – 75/1:00:11.973
15.ROBERT BATTLE (2) – 47/32:58.839


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