Philippine motor sport on four wheels is thriving and growing

In April this year, I presented AAP’s annual report on Philippine motor sport in 2018 on the occasion of the 25th Annual AAP Motor Sport Awards.  As the National Sporting Authority for four-wheel motor sport in the Philippines, designated as such by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and recently recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee, AAP is in a unique position to evaluate, and report on the state of the sport in the country.

I would like to offer a summary of that report to a broader audience so that readers may grow in awareness and appreciation of the breadth and depth motor sport has achieved in this country.

Philippine motor sport on four wheels is very much alive, thriving and growing.  In the 2018 season just past, AAP sanctioned a total of 52 motor sport events, including circuit and drag racing, karting, slalom, autocross, rally and rallycross.

While less in number than the 62 events sanctioned in 2017, it is gratifying to note that significantly more competitors participated in 2018’s 52 events than in 2017’s 62 events.

In 2018, AAP issued 1,783 competition licenses compared to 739 issued the previous year.  This unprecedented year-to-year increase in the number of motor sport competitors – the largest annual increase in AAP’s history – was reflected across all motor sport disciplines, whether national, international, clubman or day licenses.

2018 was, by any measure, a boom year for four-wheel motor sport.  Particularly gratifying was the growing number of competition licenses issued to female drivers – 15 in 2018 – which AAP would like to encourage and see continue to grow in number.

More new motor sport events were introduced in 2018.  Drifting was finally recognized by the FIA and the first-ever national drifting event with international participation took place in 2018.  Formula V1, a single-seater series, made its successful debut with a 30-car grid.  A rally event was held for the first time in many years, as well as the first 12-hour touring car endurance event.

A new purpose-built karting track was added to the Clark International Speedway complex in 2018, while the Clark racing circuit itself was upgraded from a Grade 4 to Grade 3 rating, allowing more powerful cars to run there.

Significantly, a new race track designed by Formula One track designer Hans Tilke began construction in Lubao, Pampanga.  When completed in late 2020 with a Grade 2 rating, it will be eligible for all categories of international motor sport events, up to and including Formula One.

AAP’s grassroots Motor Sport Development Program (MSDP) to find and develop young drivers to enter motor sport completed its fourth year.  Thirty-one MSDP events were held in Manila, Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Tagum and Pangasinan, involving 315 enrollees, bringing the four-year enrollee total of the MSDP to some 2,300 so far.  The 2018 MSDP was supported by a grant from the FIA as well as by sponsor Mazda Philippines who donated five brand new training cars.

To top off an eventful 2018, AAP was formally recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee as the National Sporting Authority for four-wheel motor sport, a milestone in AAP’s history.

AAP acknowledges, thanks and congratulates the following Filipino drivers for flying our flag abroad in their respective disciplines: Daniel Miranda in Asian TCR and Formula Renault, Vicente Floirendo in GT Asia, Angie King in Ferrari Challenge, Luis Gono in FIA International Drifting Club, Arthur de Jong in Asia and Europe Le Mans Series.

Congratulations indeed to everyone in the motor sport community who helped make 2018 a banner year for the sport!