Filipino Karting prodigy Gabe Tayao is gearing up to represent the Philippines in the second leg of the Formula 4 Southeast Asia Championship at the Clark International Speedway starting October 14.
The 16-year-old racer, who hails from Makati City, will be making his debut as the youngest-ever Filipino racer to race in a full-sanctioned Formula 4 race.
According to the young Tayao, he is excited but at the same time nervous as he tries to make a name for himself among the biggest names in open-wheel car racing.
“It’s my home track and I’m a little bit nervous because I want to do well. I just want to try my best and not put too much pressure on myself,” he told The Manila Times in an interview.
He stressed that there is added pressure in making his Formula 4 debut in front on his Filipino fans but explained that he is mentally preparing himself for the races.
“Definitely, there is pressure because a lot of people are expecting a lot. They have been labeling me as a local hero next to Marlon Stockinger. There is a lot expectation from them for me to do well,” he said.
“It also puts a lot of weight on my shoulders because I am carrying the Filipino flag. But I want to not think about it because it might affect my performance,” Tayao added.
The Filipino-Chinese driver claimed that he is going to the race with the aim of clinching a podium finish while hoping his familiarity of the track at Clark will pay him dividends.
“Heading to this race next week, I don’t want to expect to much from myself but I just hope and pray that I do good to get a podium finish and even a win,” he added.
Furthermore, he hopes his karting experience would come in handy.
Tayao started racing karts in 2011 at the SQ Cadet Class before moving up the categories in the local and international circuits then finally deciding to take his talents to the Formula 4 circuit.
“I’ve been racing karts since 2011 and the progress of my career has been really good. I think now is the perfect time for me to move up because I think I’m mature enough to step into a formula car,” he stated.
While he was given just one month’s notice to prepare for the race, Tayao relishes the opportunity to try open-wheel car racing.
“I think the Formula 4 SEA Championship is a really good way to start because it is in Asia and there’s going to be a race here in the Philippines. I think everything is lined up perfectly,” he added.