Even before the great show of force from youngster Gabe Tayao and car aficionado Angie Mead King in the Philippine leg of the Formula 4 Southeast Asian Championship, our flag was proudly waved by Filipino racers on the top podium in another prestigious international race event.
Our three-time National Slalom and International Karting Champion Milo Rivera with multiple discipline champion and eight-time AAP Driver of the Year Awardee Carlos Anton took home all the major awards in the Taiwan Gymkhana Prix held at Taichung City last September 25-26, 2016.
The 21-year old Rivera took the Individual Qualifying Competition on the first day of competition with Anton in second place. On the final day, Rivera edged out the Japanese legend, 15-time Gymkhana Champion Tetsuya Yamano to take the premiere Knockout Competition and the highly treasured Team Competition with Anton on his side.
I am very fortunate to have known these two drivers very well and have always known that they will be the ones to bring home the laurels. Let me introduce them first and trace how they made the Philippines Mo. 1 in the Asian Zone Gymkhana competition.
In the beginining
Carlos Anton is our best MP Turbo driver that ever came from our race team’s driver sponsored program. The 45-year old Baguio City native started racing in 1989 in slaloms and right away showed big potential in besting everyone in the discipline.
We drafted Anton into the MP Turbo during our rallycross days in 1994 where our team won the National Rallycross Championship for four consecutive years (1991-1994). In the same year, we formed the Caltex-Mitsubishi-Diamond Motors-MP Turbo Team when circuit racing came back from hibernation. Anton again helped us win the National Production Championship for two consecutive years in 1995-1996.
Carlos became the lead driver of the MP Turbo team when I went to international formula racing in 1996. He took home the Rallycross title that year and the Philippine National Touring Car Championship in 1997. He also took eight touring car titles, two slaloms, six hill climbs, two karting, one Formula, one autocross, one time attack and two Golden Wheel Awards. This will be very hard to beat.
One of the best drivers that had recently come up is Milo Rivera who had shown his superior racing skills at such a young age. Rivera was only 12-years old when his very supportive parents Sammy and Fanny Rivera allowed him to go karting. Even though they didn’t have the best equipment compared to others, Rivera would win because of his consistency, tenacity and very mature racing skills.
His meteoric rise started when he took both the National Karting Championship and the International Asian Karting Championship in 2012. In the national championship, a torrential downpour in the Carmona Racing Circuit made his kart suffer engine problems in the pre-final and he had to start at the back. He bested all drivers to win the final heat coming from the back of the pack! The miraculous win marked Milo an instant racing great by his peers and organizers.
Rivera was the No.1 choice of the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) for the FIA Young Driver Excellence Program in Sydney in 2013 and the next year in Beijing. Rivera was able to learn a lot from the best coaches and managers. They were taught formula racing against other drivers in the Asian Pacific Region. Milo was the top graduate and got offers to drive for European teams after the program.
Sadly, the financial requirements couldn’t be met and Rivera had to be content with racing in slaloms and touring cars locally. Rivera and Carlos are now training new drivers that would like to follow their footsteps. Rivera is part of the AAP Motor Sport Development Program and Carlos is working hard on guiding his 12-year old son Iñigo Anton in karting and time attack events.
What is Gymkhana?
Gymkhana is like slaloms and autocross here in the country, but with more obstacles like a stop box and/or reverse driving. The 180-, 360- or more degree turns are employed and drifting is encouraged if can get you through an obstacle at a faster clip.
The driver that can post the best time without incurring penalties, like hitting cones or markers along the track, is the winner. Memorizing the track is essential and concentration is of utmost importance as you are given only a few laps to post the best time.
In the case of the Taiwan Auto Gymkhana Prix, the 32 international drivers were not allowed to practice on the track. There were two tracks that were identical to each other and the cars that were used were stock, Taiwan-made Luxgen, 1.6 -iter vehicles. The drivers could only practice the cars out of the track and got to know its acceleration, braking and handling capabilities in a very short time. Our drivers were lucky that Taiwan had left hand drive cars or else it would be another obstacle for drivers with right hand drive format.
Next week, we will show you how hard it was for Rivera and Anton to win the event and take all the three championships for the Philippines. Stay tuned for all the juicy inside stories and it can only be read here in Turbo Times. Godspeed to all!