TJ and Access Plus Racing continue PSBK dominance on return to CIS
Timothy Joseph “TJ” Alberto and teammate Lawrence Macalinao were again at the forefront of the Philippine Superbike Championship (PSBK) on the series’ return to the Clark International Speedway (CIS) last August 5th and 6th. With their pair of Ducati Panigale V4 R and V4 S, they took Access Plus Racing to victory road with another 1-3 finish overall.
Still fresh from its competitive debut last month, their latest 2023-spec machinery already received some upgrades over the short break. The team also spent considerable time to further dial in its setup and make it more confident on the limit. However, it was only on Thursday when they received their allocation of the new Diablo Superbike SCX rear tire, which will be first adopted during the race weekend.
Despite the limited track time with the new tire compound, and less than ideal conditions, Access Plus Racing was able to give Alberto and Macalinao a good setup heading into Qualifying. Alberto stopped the clock at 1:49.630 to claim pole position, while his teammate set a new personal best of 1:54.632 to place him P4 on the grid and ahead of all the Expert Class riders.
The weather was back to normal come Sunday morning with track temperatures reaching a scorching 33 deg. Celsius. Likewise, the action heated up as early as Race 1 with Alberto battling with Dashi Watanabe for the lead. With such high temperatures, the 2-time PSBK champion had to manage the tires, brakes, and engine carefully to ensure they make it to the finish at the end of 10-laps. He eventually made a clean pass for the lead on lap 3 and began to pull away. Alberto then made a big push near the end to set a 1:49.425 lap to claim the fastest lap of the race.
Race 2 in the afternoon proved to be even tougher as the heat now started to take a toll on both Access Plus Racing riders. This caused Alberto to make a mistake as he ran wide and dropped behind Marvin Mangulabnan. It would take him several laps to eventually catch up and regain the lead before opening up a 5.666 secs gap to secure his second win of the weekend.
TJ Alberto’s flawless run to victory further extends his championship lead to 12 points in the Pro Class standings. Macalinao, on the other hand, maintains his top spot in the Expert Class also with 12 points. But the 2023 season is far from over. The final 2 events of the Philippine Superbike Championship (PSBK) will award 1.5x points starting at Round 5, scheduled on September 2/3 at the Batangas Racing Circuit (BRC), leaving no room for error for both Access Plus Racing riders.
TJ Alberto, #77:
“Another incredible weekend as we finished every session in P1. It was interesting to see how the Panigale V4 R performed with the new Pirelli SCX rear tire even under the hot Philippine weather and even set an unofficial lap that was faster than the current lap record. In the end, we went home with full 50 points and extend my championship lead. Every point is vital as there will be a 1.5x multiplier for the final races. We look forward to see how the new 2023 Panigale V4 R handles on BRC next month.”