MICHAEL Cerin of 4Wheelers Davao emerged extreme class champion in the Tough Track Challenge 2017 that closed Sunday evening at the Iluminado Quinto Offroad Race Track in Barangay Langub, Diversion Road, Maa, Davao City. He claimed his third Tough Track title after topping the 2006 and 2011 editions in Manila and Clark, Pampanga, respectively.
The 40-year-old Cerin clocked an overall total time of 33 minutes and 8.50 seconds while Jun Abrena of Lake Panimaloy Off-Roaders Club settled for the runner-up honors with a time of one hour, three minutes and 28.32 seconds. Lorenzo "Jiggy" Rodriguez, also of 4Wheelers Davao, registered 1:04:07.95 to grab the third spot.
Rounding up the top 10 were 4Wheelers Davao racers Reynan Jayme and Cesar Daquil, female entry Maila Alivia of Isabela Extreme, Christian Doyon of Ormoc 4Wheelers, Junar Nolasco of Cabantian Adventure Team, Art Benedict Ong of Ormoc 4Wheelers and Dennis Garcia of 4Wheelers Davao.
Cerin, in an interview with Sun.Star Davao, said, "Ako lang naka-finish sa track A at sa track B nakuha ko ang best time. The track A mas challenging kasi mahaba ang race track plus the rain the other night mas naging mahirap."
He recalled that the passing through the slippery log bridge and going through the logs pace was the most difficult in track A.
"Without the crew, mahihirapan talaga ako," Celin said, adding that the tracks that 4Wheelers Davao chairman John Ferrazini and John Sandico designed were technical and requires no speed.
He considers winning the Davao edition most memorable for him having survived what many refer to as the "toughest" track in the country.
Citing his crew, Celin said off-roading is not an individual sport but a team effort.
Celin, a son of a mechanic, learned the sport at age 21.
"Yung tatay ko is a mechanic. Trained kaming mag-repair ng sasakyan at that time naging uso na yung 4x4 pero wala pang offroad racing more on trails pa. Ang Cebu nag-introduce dito ng first off-road competition in 1999. Nung nadevelop ko na ang skills at nakagawa narin ng race trick, sumasali na ako sa iba-ibang legs," he said.
He then dedicated his victory to his father whom he considers his mentor.
The 2016 Driver of the Year calls his vehicle Brownie, an original Toyota Land Cruiser 40 series. He has also built and assembled a total of 14 off-road vehicles that all competed in the just-concluded two-day Tough Track Challenge 2017 that was sponsored by Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Maxxis, Merco and Selecta.
He also said that though the sport is expensive, he does not need to pay for repairs as he can do it himself.