The 4hr Endurance Race at City Kart Circuit Makati

Image credit: Anton Lorenzo via Gabriel “Gabe” Tayao Cabrera Facebook page

It’s Q1 of the first ever 4hr endurance race organized at the brand-spanking new City Kart Racing track in Circuit Makati. I found myself behind the wheel of kart number 17, assigned to Team Neptune. Qualifying against me are those more experienced in go-karting than I was, some of them even last year’s champions in their respective categories.

The pressure on me was partially assuaged by Emilano Zulberti, a partner in City Kart Racing and this team’s de facto boss. “Just do a low one minute-six,” he said. During the timed practice session I was able to do a mid 1:06 lap time. Based on the other teams’ results on the timing sheets, a low 1:06 should have gotten us into Q2, where either him or his daughter would set the next quali time.

I let the rest of the field pass me on the out lap. Jerking the kart left and right to heat up the slicks like an F1 driver would, I hoped for any sort of advantage. Maybe it did, or that merely sapped much needed tire life, something that would haunt us much later.

I came in to see the lap times. I improved by one second! Easily lower than my practice time. However, the majority of the field did 1:03’s. My mid-1:05 was not enough for Team Neptune to continue the rest of qualifying.

Obviously I was severely outclassed by these kids who can probably handle a kart better than I can handle the English language. Our team started in 8th out of ten.

Image credit: Christopher Kho/Time Attack Manila

I last raced in a City Kart Racing facility way back when they laid a track in a warehouse in Bicutan. That layout had an overhead bridge section that crossed over a section of track,  defining it against other karting venues up until that time. With a permanent location in the Circuit Makati real estate development, they brought back the iconic bridge section.

It was hard to appreciate the bridge and much else of the track when I first went for practice the Thursday night before the event. City Kart Racing was still in the process of constructing their 5000sqm property in the Ayala development. While the track was more or less ready, things like trackside lighting and the timing system were not in place. Makeshift floodlights were placed at certain areas, but barely helped on overall visibility. While I was learning the layout amidst darkness, a few of the kids who were to participate on Sunday flew past me like I was standing still.

The Sunday practice session was where I had to learn all the clipping points and braking zones. Without reference and professional guidance, God knows where all these where. Effort was all for naught during quali.

Image credit: Anton Lorenzo via Gabriel “Gabe” Tayao Cabrera Facebook page

But the beauty of an endurance race with expert karters participating is that as the track is run, things like the racing line appear like a mirage in the desert, delineated from the asphalt aggregate and rubber marbles on the areas outside the line. The pros were literally clipping the rubber barriers, exposing the track edge and thus visually marking for a novitiate like me where to really stick it in and ditch drive like a certain tofu delivery service vehicle.

I did a total of two forty-minute stints and one twenty-fiver at the last hour of the race. Emilano and his daughter did the balance. Perhaps if I was a better karter we would have been able to challenge for the podium as the eventual third-placer in the amateur division was the BRE team headed by master tuner Pacho Blanco. BRE was only probably a lap or two ahead of us.

In the in-lap after the checkered flag was waved, Emilano experienced a flat on the left front tire. I wasn’t surprised – given my weight, hamfisted steering inputs, and gutter-driving the same tire in at least two apexes per lap. Also, during my stints, the throttle and brakes were sticking intermittently, or that may just be due to me pressing both of them at the same time. Otherwise, we did not experience any major faults on the kart. Number 17 served Team Neptune well.

Pro division podium
Pro division podium

The winners of the Pro division were the team of Gabriel Tayao-Cabrera and Tai Zulberti. In second was the pairing of Carl Luig and Yvana Carangan, and third came Daniel Miranda and Jacob Ang.

One hour and forty-five minutes total seat time is not attainable in slalom or autocross, the field of motorsports we participate in. This experience should help me with confidence at the limit of adhesion as well as polishing my knowledge on racing lines and timing on driver inputs. So what if our turbocharged Korean sedan is a far cry from a 100-odd kg tubular four wheeler with a water pump engine for a powerplant?

The only regret that I have for that day is that I don’t have photographs of myself karting in number 17. You can see me on the topmost picture of this post, standing seventh from left. But in a kart, nada. ‘Tis sad. But photos are for Facebook; this experience is for life.

To get some idea on how it was like that day, somebody uploaded a video of the event. Check out the vid here (requires login to Facebook). Otherwise, feel free to keep yourself updated for the latest feature races to happen in City Kart Racing Circuit Makati via the Karting Maniacs Facebook group. I will surely try to join the next edition, with a team this time instead of being a chance passenger.

EDIT: Gabriel Cabrera messaged us saying that he found a picture of me karting. Here it is, below. Thanks, Gabe!

Image credit: Gabe Cabrera
Image credit: Gabe Cabrera

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