January 23, 2011, was the date of the last time I was at Clark International Speedway. I still remember it like yesterday. I decided to participate in a go-kart race, the first time back in a kart after already starting my European career in cars. During the winter months as a racing driver, fitness and keeping sharp is the top priority going into any new racing season. I was a bit rusty, to say the least, and got off to a bad start having qualified somewhere near the tail end of the grid. Sure enough, as the weekend progressed, I found confidence in a machine that had been the perfect school for me as a young driver and ended up leading the race. It all ended in tears, however, as my kart broke down literally meters before the finish line. I nearly won, and that is why the memory stays so crystal. You remember the losses more than the blissful wins. Despite the loss, the experience was thrilling and brought me back to where it all started as a 9-year-old kid with big dreams, pursuing his racing career in the Philippines.
August 25, 2020, almost a decade on from my last experience in Clark, I was finally back. Much had happened since my last race there. The kid with a dream did pretty well, going on to win the Monaco Grand Prix in GP3, Racing in Formula 2 & ultimately driving a Formula 1 car. Never would I have thought that I would make it that far. Upon my return to the track was a chance to drive the Radical SR3. A British manufactured racing car, with 363bhp/ton and blistering acceleration of 0-100kph in 3.1 seconds. Without getting too technical about the car, in a nutshell, it is seriously fast. You might ask how did such a machine land into the southeastern parts of the pacific ocean thousands of miles from the UK? A group of racing enthusiasts with big ambitions based here in the Philippines were crazy enough to do it. After a little over a year, Radical Cars Philippines has introduced themselves as a proving ground for track day drivers, enthusiasts as well as the likes of myself to fill that need for speed.
After having a couple of laps earlier in the day in the SR1, another car model in the line up of the Radical garage here in the Philippines, I was promptly asked to fit myself into the SR3. Something felt different this time, not only was it four years since the last time I drove in anger around the track, it had been much longer since I had experienced a machine with so much potential. I strapped my helmet on, stepped into the car, and was securely fastened into the seat by the mechanics and crew. Shortly after the car switched on and fired up, she rumbled and purred loudly, putting a nice big grin on my face most probably seen through the tinted visor on my helmet. I exited the pitlane and went on to the tack. It is not too often to have 4.189kms of tarmac to yourself with no other car in sight. My first lap was a calm warm-up, but already I could notice how much grip was in the car as I navigated through the first couple of corners. Lap after lap, I began to push the grip available on the slick tires and found myself getting more comfortable with the down-force available on the Radical SR3. Then on the final flying lap, I decided to push just a little more to explore the limits of the car.
1:53.49 seconds recorded onto the dashboard of the car as I crossed the finish line. We had timed the unofficial lap record around the Clark International Speedway. I had no idea coming into the pits but could tell by some of the cheers of the Radical team that they were more than happy with the pace I set on that late sunny afternoon. It felt like a victory in the paddock, and a small step forward for the landscape of Philippine Motorsports. A new beginning long overdue in the local racing scene, offering a Radical experience for anyone willing to test the limits of the Philippines’ fastest racing car.
I'm a Filipino-Swiss racing driver, born and raised in the Philippines. Having started my career in the Philippines, my dream was to be one of the fastest racing drivers in the world.
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