After a dream come true first place finish in the second round of the FIA Auto Asian Gymkhana held in Korea, our multi-titled duo of Milo Rivera and Carlos Anton had a sad ending in Taoyuan, Taiwan last October 28 to 29, 2017.
The 2016 AAG champions could only muster 2nd place in the Team knockout competition and Milo salvaging 5th in the individual qualifying session. The pain of the legendary duo was there for all to see and their huge following of fans, both here and abroad, just couldn’t believe it.
With the emotions overflowing from the whole Filipino contingent, let’s find out the inside stories from Milo and Carlos on what transpired in that very tight and ultra competitive 3rd round. A lot of things were learned and lessons for the organizers as well.
It was normal to have high expectations after the spectacular AAG finish in Incheon, Korea that proclaimed Milo and Carlos the overall champions in both the Team and Individual categories last August 20, 2017. In fact, event the local Racing community came out in force to support their winners with a big group going to Taiwan.
The FIA designated club in the Philippines, the Automobile Association of the Philippines had sent motor sports development program instructor Vip Isada and media officer Bong Boado to cover the event.
AAP’s sanctioned slalom organizer Race Motorsports were represented by Lito and Bing Dulce and this was the group that Milo had numerous championships. The sponsors of the slaloms also tagged along like Federal Tires.
Carlos’ family also came with his ever supportive and lovely wife Karen and the newest 13-year-old Anton sensation, Iñigo, who was invited by the organizers to do exhibition runs. As the age limit is 18 years old, the organizers were thinking of lowering it next year to include fast and deserving drivers like Iñigo in the region.
There was good reason to be optimistic before the event-as this was the same country where the fantastic duo took the Asian Gymkhana title in 2016. There was only one leg last year and no one could touch the Filipinos, not even the highly touted Japanese team.
Times have changed and the AAG has grown to 4 rounds this year. The Philippines is vying for a leg next year when we get to host the International FIA Motorsports meeting early next year.
This year, the early signs though were not good with regards to equal time on the track and cars. Some of the host countries were getting undue advantage over their guests in their respective events. Rumors were flying that local drivers had prior knowledge of the track and practiced on them with the cars that were to be used.
The first round in Indonesia saw the locals take most of the top 10 places and only the much-vaunted Japanese team was able to mount a challenge. The Philippines sent Jevoy Moreno and Dion Ortiz in lieu of Rivera/Anton, as the first choice had prior commitments. Sadly, the new pair weren’t in the hunt for podium finishes.
Korea also had their own drivers rise up. However, the rainy weather equalized them all. There were problems with the track as one was more slippery that the other and competitors never got good times on it. Still, our own Philippine team beat them all.
There were 32 international drivers from the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, Macau, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and host Taiwan. The bulk of drivers came from the host country, Taiwan, with Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines highly favored to win overall.
The local’s hometown advantage soon came out in qualifying when the first 3 runs were all dominated by Taiwanese especially Tseng Kun-Yao. He came out on top followed by Tsai Tien-Tang, Chen Nai-Chi, and David Ryo, all from Taiwan.
Milo finally got to grips with the Mitsubishi Lancer and topped the last, 4th qualifying run. With qualifying runs accumulated to find the final standings, the top 10 had 7 Taiwanese, 1 Indonesian and 2 Filipinos. Carlos took the final slot after experiencing the same problems as Milo with the CVT transmission.
Even Japan’s multi-time Gymkhana champion, Tetsuya Yamano, could only muster a 27th place finish after technical glitches from the car. Yamano eventually recovered from this sad qualifying and took the overall individual championship in the end of Saturday.
It wasn’t a good start for our team and you can see it in the pictures, sent through social media, that they were frustrated. They just had to learn from this experience and move on to the next days’ premiere Team competition. Emotions were at sky high after this day.
There were now 2 team knockout races on Sunday and the changes were made to take out the problems of the first 2 rounds. The single knockout system was not a good one because it didn’t give the drivers enough chance to show their skills, especially if there was a problem with the track and /or cars.
The Filipinos found that by driving the car more aggressively, the Lancer would respond better by not shifting early. This was a revelation to them and the two started posting good times after that. The double knockout proved beneficial to our team when they got beaten in the first round by their nemesis, the Japan Team, by only a few tenths of a second.
They came back strong in the 2nd round by beating the Japanese team and set up a final championship run with the hosts Taiwan. Milo had a good run and beat his Taiwanese opponent by 1 second.
With the time accumulated for the final standings, Carlos just needed to finish less than a second from his rival. Unfortunately, the car stalled and he got beaten by 1.1 seconds in the end! What a heartbreaking moment it was for them to lose by 0.1 second but in the end, they gained everyone’s respect as they again beat Japan and came to almost taking the Team championship from Taiwan.
Icing on the cake
Iñigo Anton added icing onto the Filipino’s prime status by posting a time that beat 12 drivers in their qualifying times. Everyone was amazed how this 13-year old could master the tricky course in such a short while and tamed the Lancer, too! Now that’s a big feat and surely, they should consider permitting him to drive next year.
We hope that the final round in Thailand will be more equal to all competitors, regardless! This will be the big challenge for the organizers to make this AAG a good series to compete in and remember. We are launching our Race Of Champions series soon and will adopt this AAG format. Hope we can find more deserving drivers to represent us soon. Godspeed to all!