The Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) recently concluded the first-ever nationwide Motorsport Development Program (MSDP) at the grassroots level.
The AAP grassroots training platform is designed to discover and develop individuals aged 16-19 years who aspire to compete in motor sport and have the potential to become champion race car drivers. The program consists of lectures and on-road trials that educate participants about basic race driving skills, motor sport psychology, safety, vehicle dynamics, race strategy and the conditioning of both the driver and the vehicle.
Mandy Eduque, AAP director and motor sport committee chair, noted that the MSDP is a program that aims to get young people involved in motor sport the right way. In the process, Philippine motor sport gains new participants and thereby grows and develops.
The MSDP participants were trained by 10-time national car rally champion Vip Isada and his team of expert motor sport competitors: Robbie Hermoso (seven-time national co-driver and navigator champion), Art Guevara (national rally champion in 2000, navigator champion in 2003), Bebot Reyes (race organizer and official) and Milo Rivera (AAP’s motor sport ambassador to the FIA).
One hundred aspiring young race car drivers participated in the program’s five separate legs conducted in key regional centers of the Philippines. The program was launched last August 30 in Megatent Libis, Quezon City, followed by the Visayas leg on September 26 in Bacolod City, October 11 in Cebu City, and the Mindanao leg on November 14 in Davao. The culminating and championship leg was held the weekend of November 20-22 at Megatent Libis, Quezon City.
Out of the 100 aspiring young drivers trained and evaluated, five were selected by the instructors and officers of AAP’s motor sport division for showing the ability, attitude and characteristics of a future motor sports champion.
The five finalists are Jero Consing from the Bacolod leg, Raymond Ryan Cudala, Chenee Hazel Ang Jimenez, Patrick Oliver Bautista, Bernard Michael Santos and Paolo Ivan Santos, all from Manila. They will undergo further motor sports training by the AAP MSDP instructors.
MSDP head Mark Desales, who is the operations manager of AAP’s Motor Sport Division, said that they did not base their judging on how fast the participants finished the laps. “We rated them by identifying who is coachable and trainable, for we believe that this is the foundation of a champion,” he said.
Desales added that the program will be conducted every year from now on. “The next AAP-MSDP is slated in March and June in Luzon, April and July in Visayas and May and October in Mindanao. By November 2016, the top three students per leg will compete in shootout eliminations,” he said.
Mazda Philippines president Steven Tan vowed to continue supporting the MSDP. “Many drivers are on the road without the proper knowledge. What the AAP and Mazda Philippines want is for you [young drivers]to learn racing the right way,” Tan told the participants.
The AAP-MSDP is made possible by the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA), the organization that governs all four-wheel motor sport worldwide. AAP’s local partners in the MSDP are Mazda Philippines (official vehicle of the program,) Aeromed Ambulance Transport and Sabelt. The MSDP Manila and provincial legs are held in partnership with different individuals and event venues such as David Feliciano, Edwin Rodriguez, Walter Zamora of Walter Lights and Sounds, Diane Borja of The Food Couture, Bibong Narciso, Kikong de la Rama in Bacolod City; Jong King, Paolo Santos, Jojo Lloren and SRP Cebu during the Cebu leg; and Willie Torres, Sonny Dizon, Kirk Estioko, Sta. Lucia Realty, Crocodile Farm during the Davao City leg.