Last week, I recounted how our 2 top Filipino champion drivers, Milo Rivera and Carlos Anton, started their respective careers. There aremore than 2 decades separating these 2 great mensince they started their racing dreams and luckily for us, their partnership came together at the right time.
Last September, the Automobile Association of the Philippines chose veteran Anton and 21 year old Rivera to represent the country in the Taiwan Gymkhana Prix where the Asian Championship was to be determined. Our dream team both delivered the best result that we can ever hope for – 3 overall championships including the premiere individual Knock Out Competition!
Luckily, Carlos,Milo and I are all close friends and I was able to get their inside stories after the race. Let’s see how they were able to the make our hopes of winning the championship come true.
Saturday’s qualifying was a race in itself too with awards and trophies awarded to the winners. The drivers had to do 4 heats and all the times were added up to find out their qualifying standings.
With Japan’s 8-time All-Japan Gymkhana Champion, 3rd Overall Champion in the 2016 US Pikes Peak race and racing living legend Tetsuya Yamano competing in the event, he was the unanimous favorite to win the event. Our drivers had to fight the psychological barrier of facing such an opponent and this was their first hurdle.
The second hurdle was adapting to the one make, Taiwan-made Luxgen 1.6 liter, 130 hp, manual cars and the tires on the identical track set up for the Gymkhana. With no practice sessions allowed, they had to familiarize with the cars around the area and outside of the track.
The 32 international drivers only had 15 minutes to walk the track and familiarize with the course that was handed on the day itself.After the first qualifying runs, the teams from Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan and Japan were all posting very good times that will make the race for the overall win very hard.
This showed how great our Philippine duo really was. They overcame the psych war, adapted to the cars and memorized the track right away were big achievements that no ordinary driver can do. They had to do their best each time they were flagged off and had to bring their A game when the flag dropped.
The extra ordinary driving skills of Milo and Carlos immediately paid dividends by taking 1st and 2nd place overall respectively in the Qualifying competition! The whole field was surprised with this result especially the 2 Filipinos, as the foreigners never expected this. The news came back home immediately and the whole racing community started to take notice of this tremendous achievements. Seeing the Philippine flag back on top was really a great picture!
Sunday’s final shock
With only the top 16 drivers moving on, the stone was set for Sunday’s Final Knockout competition. 1st placer Milo will take on the 16th qualifier, 2ndplacer Carlos will fight the 15th driver, and so on down the field. The Gymkhana Prix followed a single elimination format which means only the winner of the matches will move forward.
The competition was well organized and the drivers found the pace really fast. Before they could celebrate their match wins, the duo found themselves being called back to set fight another driver again. It was tiring for veteran Carlos but no problem for the young Rivera. Carlos’ last international Gymkhana was 11 years ago and he took a great 3rd overall behind Yamano and another Japanesethat time, but this time, it was a different animal.
All the 16 drivers were very good and Yamano finally made good on his threat and ended up in a match race for the championship with Milo. Carlos hit a cone in the stop box and fell down to 4th place with the penalty. It was a small mistake but cost him a lot in the standings.
In the battle for the overall Championship, Yamano-san went first and right away he hit a cone. This gave some breathing room for Milo as Carlos reassured his team mate that the race was theirs. Milo drove steadily and had an error-free run that was only a few tenths slower but since there were no penalties, Milo was the winner!
And it ain’t over!
The whole Philippine team and the Filipinos watching the event all celebrated Milo’s victory. Amidst all the hoopla, the event wasn’t over as the final Team Competition was still coming up. The fantastic duo had to calm down and find the eye of the tiger to win one more time.
This is where experience counted a lot and Carlos made a great comeback. He did consistently fast laps with Milo and slowly progressed in the knockout format. Soon, they had a hard time beating the Koreans and Indonesians to reach the finals. The Japanese were beaten by the home team of Taiwan and set up an exciting battle between the highly favored home team against the Philippine team.
The finals saw our team edge out the Taiwanese again and pandemonium brokie out again in the pits of the Filipinos! Winning 3 out of 3 Championships was very hard to do and they just did it!
History in the making
This will go down the history of Philippine Motorsports as one of the best achievements of our drivers in an international competition. My hats off to these 2 drivers as without their team work, a clean sweep would not have been possible! This gave us great hope that Filipinos ARE still a force to be reckoned with in Motorsports!
I hope that one day I will still be able to see the same results from other Filipino racers. We need new heroes like Milo Rivera and Carlos Anton. They are also teaching new drivers to become the future heroes. Thank you both and may you both be blessed in your future races! Godspeed to all!