FJ Moto exploded on the scene last year with large, well-organized events like the Endurocross, a four-leg, point-based multi-venue championship, in the style of the FIM World Enduro Super Series.
The first leg in Tarlac was a 26-kilometer route staged on the legendary trails of the Mt. Pinatubo lahar areas. Home base was a camp not far from the General Wilson Amper Eco-Park in New Clark City, Tarlac.
Champion motocross racer, Bornok Mangosong, graced the festivities but was unable to compete in the enduro event due to an injury. His brother, Ron Mangosong, took up the cudgels instead.
10 categories, 5 per day
Enduro Factory’s (EF) top riders, Dave “Southern King” Macapaz and the “White Knight of the North”, Aldrin Amar, were joined by Nazzhir Cabahug, and new team member Bench Gregorio. The EF Women’s team had likewise added warriors to their ranks, with Tashia Revave leading her two apprentices, sisters Cael and Kiara Lopena into the fray.
Other EF riders included founders Pao Toral, Ariel Ansaldo, JB Relacion, and Ali Khayam, plus other regulars such as Norbs Dyson, Fel Neri, Tholits Lopena, and first-time racers like Mark Mijares, JB Bernardo, and Renzo Villalon.
Gregorio validated his seat on the team by winning the top spot on Day 1, All China Underbone Class, followed by Macapaz as the 1st runner-up. Dyson added to the EF streak when he took the 2nd spot in the Senior Class. Tholits Lopena, finished the class in his time, arriving at the EF tent smiling as if he had taken the championship.
Enduro Factory owned the podium during the Women’s Class, with Revave taking gold, Kiara Lopena with the silver, and Cael Lopena holding the bronze. Proud father Tholits Lopena could not have been happier at the success of his daughters under the tutelage of Revave.
Special mention goes out to EF friend and sister warrior Claymore “Mayora” del Rosario, for overcoming mechanical problems and a troubled start to valiantly take fourth place behind the Enduro Factory family.
Macapaz bagged 1st runner-up in the All China 250 Class, limping home with a deformed rear brake pedal and a boiling front brake. The pedal had smashed on a rock and was bent uselessly out of shape, forcing Macapaz to rely on the front until it faded.
Amar followed a step behind, with no fuel left. He pushed his bike across the finish line for a miraculous 4th place.
The Knight and the King came back with a vengeance for the Local Enduro Class, with Amar on the top spot and Macapaz holding 1st runner-up. Revave made FJ Moto Endurocross history by participating in the Local Enduro Class, the first woman to smash handguards against a traditionally all-male playing field. She missed the top 10 by a hair, taking 14th spot out of 44 competitors in that class.
The Tarlac Local Enduro Class was exclusive to the best of the region, and EF cheered the exciting race on from the sidelines.
The day ended with 2 championships and 9 medals for Team Enduro Factory.
Defending champion Cabahug retained his title the next day in the Veteran’s Class, his kind Ilongo demeanor belying his fierce ability on trail. Toral, Relacion, and Kayam finished the same class, albeit off the podium. Ansaldo, Neri, Mijares, Bernardo, and Villalon were nowhere to be seen.
Macapaz and Amar took first and second respectively in the Open Enduro Class, dominating the no-brands-barred field in one of the most difficult races of the day. Macapaz took the championship at the Yamaha WR155R One Make Race, with Amar running wingman on the track for his teammate as a non-bearing participant. Mangosong incidentally took second in this class.
Veteran Class Enduro Factory riders Ansaldo, Neri, Mijares, Bernardo, and Villalon, along with their coaches Dyson and Revave, all rolled in as a unit. It had been five hours after their release, and they had been lapped twice by their team champions. They had also edited the Day One video of Enduro Factory’s performance, had a relaxed lunch, and drank most of the remaining buko provided by the organizers at an Aeta mountaintop hut checkpoint.
The Master Class, the last and most difficult field of the FJ Endurocross Leg 1, ended with Macapaz winning the championship, and Amar on the second step of the podium. Enduro Factory took home 4 championships and 6 medals on the second day, for a grand haul of 15 medals, including 6 championships, one new team champion, one podium lockout, and one record made.
The day ended with all participants celebrating the event along with FJ Moto founder Don Joseph, in the spirit of United Enduro. All welcome even more players on the field to join the series as it runs through the year.
The FJ Moto Endurocross may be billed as a race, but it is really a close community of people who share a passion for the sport of Hard Enduro. The camaraderie among racers felt like a gathering of family, where good cheer and sportsmanship was the hallmark of the event.
Enduro Factory looks forward to the next leg of the FJ Moto Endurocross series: The Battle of La Union. It will be held on May 27 to 28, in Bacnotan.