TJ becomes PSBK Champion for second year in succession
Access Plus Racing has achieved what was thought to be impossible. The team came into the 2022 Philippine Superbike Championship (PSBK) season finale with a 14 point deficit and turned it around to win the overall title by a single point, thus earning Timothy Joseph “TJ” Alberto the championship crown for a second year in succession.
TJ and his teammate Lawrence Macalinao were both in contention for their respective classes, but had to be on full attack mode at the Clark International Speedway (CIS) as they were equally down on points. In order to help their chances, the team called up the services of official Ducati test rider Lorenzo Zanetti for the weekend. The Italian veteran would give them valuable pointers on their riding and provided vital insights on how to extract the most performance out of their Ducati Panigale V4s. He also suited up on Sunday to give the team an extra boost on track.
Despite it being his first competitive outing on the 4.189 km circuit, Zanetti showed just how good of a rider he truly is. He wasted no time to set pole position in Qualifying with a 1:49.408 lap, shattering the previous track record set by Alberto a year ago. Not to be outdone, the reigning PSBK champion also set a personal best stopping the clock at 1:49.780 to claim P2 on the grid. Macalinao, on the other hand, was 2nd quickest out of the Intermediate Class riders and would line up P7 overall.
All the Access Plus Racing riders would get off to a clean start on Sunday morning with Alberto shooting off into the lead as the pack approached Turn 1. He then got to work on setting fast, consistent laps to stay ahead of his rivals. Unable to pull away, TJ remained focused despite the constant pressure from behind to reach the chequered flag in 1st place and score maximum points. Zanetti followed closely behind in 2nd keeping points leader Marvin Mangulabnan on the BMW at bay in 3rd. Macalinao also had a good run in the Intermediate Class finishing 2nd in class and ahead of his championship rival RG Romero was several spots behind.
Alberto already had one hand on the 2022 trophy as they all lined up on the grid for the last time this season. If he finishes 1st and Mangulabnan is 3rd or lower, the title was his. Now starting from pole, TJ bolted off the line and never looked back. He had his eyes set on the championship as the laps went by and after 10 laps of racing, he crossed the line in 1st with Zanetti again in 2nd and Mangulabnan in 3rd.
TJ Alberto and Access Plus racing concluded the 2022 season with 9 wins, a pair of 2nd place finishes, and an unnecessary DNF out of 12 races. This was enough for the #77 Ducati Panigale V4 rider to win the Overall and Expert Class Championship, plus the Rider of Year by a single point for the second year in a row.
TJ Alberto, #77:
“Really happy to become Philippine Superbike Champion back-to-back. It was a perfect weekend. Good to have Lorenzo around to help the team develop the bike as an official Ducati test rider. We learned a lot from him even it was just for a single race weekend. The last leg was really an all out effort to catch up on points and secure the title. In the end it was really close and we won by 1 point. We did a good season this year happy to now have two PSBK titles under my belt. Excited what 2023 has in store for us.”