Sports Unlimited: Princes of Philippine racing

By Jasmine Perez, Multimedia producer, Sports Unlimited

Posted at Apr 18 2012 07:06 PM | Updated as of May 09 2012 05:01 PM

Stefano Marcelo

The Carmona Race Track is the main hub of karting in the country. This is where you see the veteran karters and upcoming drivers converge for their practice sessions and races. Screeching tires, revving engines and the smell of gas and oil are the unmistakable notes of heaven for speed junkies. This is where Dyan and Marc went to meet the Philippine’s four-time karter of the year, 19-year–old Stefano Marcelo.

It is really no wonder that Stefano Marcelo is making his mark in the country’s motoring sports. After all, Stefano came from a family of great drivers. He is the nephew of the late Jovy Marcelo, the first Filipino to make it to the prestigious Indianapolis 500, but who tragically died in a practice run in 1992, two months before Stefano was born.

Today, Stefano is keeping the family tradition alive by dominating the wheel of Philippine karting. He has a very impressive resume for such a young driver. He first bagged his Asian Karting crown in 2007 in the Macau Asian Karting Open. At the World KFL of the same year, the young Stefano finished 10th in a 28-man-field that had 3 world champions in the line-up. Stefano has seen action in the World Super Karting Championships and in the World Rok Cup Finals of 2008. He posted the fastest time in the qualifying time trial, showing that Pinoy drivers are among the world’s best!

The young driver is really keeping the flame alive by putting Team Marcelo on top of karting map. He was once again named Philippine Karter of the Year for 2011.

Stefano is now passing on his skills by taking under his wing two young drivers who have joined Team Marcelo-- 15-year-old Daniel Miranda and 17-year-old Sacha Feliciano.

According to Stefano, mental coaching is a big part of karting. Driver has to have the right mind set to take on each challenge of maneuvering around the race track. Overcoming your fear is the first obstacle. This sport is truly not only physical but mental as well as you strategize your moves around the race track and against other drivers. And if there is one thing that Stefano taught these two young karters, it is to face their fears.

Dyan and Marc got the privilege of getting inside Stefano’s car, named Sneaky Sally, with this champion driver. Stefano is well on his way from karting to moving up to the GT 300 class. Stefano loves giving his favorite stuff monickers. He christened his first race car Sneaky Sally, after he slipped during a test drive.

For Stefano, moving up is just as important as moving forward in the lead.
This is why he is now trying his hands behind the wheel of bigger machines. Drivers evolve and for Stefano, he is now leveling up to race cars. Stefano just started with race cars last November. Today, Sneaky Sally is a full-fledged sneaking machine on the race track. And as Stefano goes to race for the first time in the GT 300 class against veteran drivers Coseteng and Floirendo, his Sneaky Sally might just sneak into the top 3!

Dyan couldn't get behind the wheel of this car but Stefano obliged to coach Marc and Dyan in karting. A quick downpour has left the race track wet but there was no dampening Marc's resolve to get some pointers from Stefano. Marc was like a kid on Christmas day with a brand new toy. He went around the race track with gusto. Even Stefano was impressed!

Dyan, on the other hand, was a bit hesitant to move around the wet race track but Dyan remembered the first thing that Stefano taught his young students-- do not be scared. As she maneuvered her way around the race track, she got more confident stepping on the gas pedal a bit more. It was really exhilarating. No wonder they get hooked on speed!

Marlon Stockinger

Also making his mark on the fast lane is young Pinoy-Swiss driver Marlon Stockinger. The 21-year-old racing veteran is not just all about good looks. He’s also got the goods that can put him ahead of the competition.

Together with Stefano Marcelo, the young Stockinger make up the future of Philippine motoring. Stockinger has a long list of achievements on his racing dossier. In 2004 he was the youngest driver to represent the Philippines in the prestigious Junior Rotax Max World Championships. In 2006, he was crowned Asian Karting champion. He also placed 8th in the Senior Rotax Max World Finals in 2007, crowned 8th over all in the prestigious BMW 2008 Championships with one podium finish and won 3rd in the Rookie Cup Formula BMW Series. In 2009, he placed 5th with another podium finish in the prestigious Formula Renualt UK Winter Series. At the 2010 edition of the Formula Renualt Series, he had his hands full of milestones for the Philippines, finishing 8th and gathered 1 win, 2 pole positions and 3 podium finishes.

Dyan caught up with Marlon in his Alabang home to see what this young champion has been doing to rev up his game. Being a race car driver is not only very expensive, it takes a lot of preparation to master the wheel that will ultimately lead him to victory.

Being in control of a very powerful machine takes a toll on one’s body. This is why Marlon takes physical training seriously. Technology does play a big role in this sport and drivers also benefit from training by using simulators. But of course, nothing beats being behind the wheel of the real thing.

Living the life in the fast lane is not all about just getting your speed fix for speed junkies. It is also all about sacrifice and that desire to win not only for one’s self, but for the country.

Marlon Stockinger and Stefano Marcelo continue to show that Pinoys have what it takes to be among the best in the world. Champion looks with champion attitudes!

April 14, 2012