May 23, 2024

■  Harley F. Palangchao

University of Baguio sophomore  car racing phenom Iñigo Anton delivered a highly impressive performance at the Taipe International Gymkhana Prize (TIGP), securing a spot on the podium amidst stiff competition from 50 of the world’s top gymkhana racers representing 16 countries.

Nicknamed the “Fast Filipino”, Anton was the only racer in the event who consistently finished in the top three in the qualifying and male solo events.

INTERNATIONAL PODIUM FINISHES — Filipino racing phenom Iñigo Anton waived the country’s flag following his triumphant race during the Taipei International Gymkhana Prize in Taipei, Taiwan last week. His parents Carlos and Karen and younger brother, Alonzo, were all present to support him and teammates Raymond Paul Base and Christine Torres. — Contributed photos

Competing nations for the international trophy included Germany, Japan, Slovakia, Great Britain, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, India, Nepal, and most of the Southeast Asian nations which included winners of the 2022 Auto Slalom Cup at the FIA Motorsport Games and Team Indonesia, which was the champion of the 2023 Asia Pacific Motorsport Championship.

Team Philippines, under the banner of the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), fielded the youngest racers at the international trophy event.

The 19-year-old Anton was joined by Philippines Slalom champions Raymond Paul Base and Christine Torres.

Anton made his mark early on by setting the fastest time during official practice, showcasing his precision and skill on the course.

He managed a third place finish in qualifying after a down the wire battle against Vietnam Ace Hoang Duc Pham and top-ranked Indonesian gymkhana driver Benedictus Anjasara Wahyu, who took the top spot of the podium for the qualifying trophy event. 

Base finished 24th due to an error and Torres finished ninth for the women’s competition.

The qualifying results  propelled Anton as one of the top drivers seeded for the men’s knock-out stages where they were  given one run each and faced elimination after every stage.

As the competition intensified in the knock-out rounds, Anton proved his mettle by advancing to the finals. 

Anton calculatedly maneuvered his way to the final four, where he faced the powerhouse drivers of Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam for the International and Asians Championship trophies.

Anton, knowing he had to risk it all during his final run for a shot at gold, tried a hand brake maneuver at the tight chicane, which cost him dearly by knocking out a cone and receiving a two-second penalty during his final run, resulting in a total time of 53.571 seconds.

Pham, who ran after Anton, also went for the daring maneuver at the same chicane, faltered, and finished with a total time of 55.235, leaving them both eliminated for the gold but with Anton taking the bronze in both competitions.

Korea’s Yeohwan Yun and Indonesia’s Adrian Septianto Utomo made it to the finals with the latter taking the overall crown.

In the Nations Cup Men’ finals, Anton and Base finished fifth overall out of 16 countries. They just missed out on landing on the final four by a mere 0.282 of a second to team Kyrgyzstan.

In the mixed doubles event, Anton and Torres finished a respectable ninth in their first outing as a team.

AAP representative Jhon Carlo Quillain commended the team’s youthful energy and the valuable experience gained from competing at such a high level.

With an eye on the upcoming event in Korea, the team aims to build on their success and continue representing their country with pride and skill.

In a social media post, CTMS President Dr. Kwong Wing Yeung said, “As the youngest driver in the field, Inigo’s skill and determination made him a standout worth watching. Like father, like son. The Antons embody a legacy of excellence and dedication in the world of auto gymkhana.”