Stockinger eyed as Ambassador for young Filipinos

by Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Jul 17 2012 12:35 PM | Updated as of Jul 17 2012 08:35 PM

Race car driver Marlon Stockinger with Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja
LONDON - The Philippine Embassy in Switzerland praised Filipino-Swiss race car driver Marlon Stockinger for flying the flag of the Philippines around the world, offering the rising star a special role as “ambassador” for second-generation Filipinos.

At a recent trip to Bern, the 21-year-old GP3 racer met with Ambassador Leslie Baja and Consul Maria Theresa Lazaro at the Philippine embassy in the city, discussing the possibility of working together to inspire young Filipinos in the country.

“Since I arrived about a year ago, I have been espousing the idea of enlisting second generation Filipinos in profiling the Philippines in Switzerland. These second generation, or IIGs as we call them are, to my opinion, in a better, if not the best, position to serve as ‘ambassadors’ of the Philippines since they straddle two cultures,” Ambassador Baja told ABS-CBN Europe.

He continued: “The Embassy has a two-pronged goal for Marlon: to be an inspiration to the young generation of Filipinos, and through his stature and popularity, influence peoples of foreign countries where he has raced and has become a well-known figure, to discover the beauty of the Philippines and its people.”

Stockinger, who is of mixed Filipino and Swiss heritage, was born and raised in the Philippines until he moved to Europe to pursue racing at the age of 17.

“Hopefully, Marlon and his successes in racing will inspire IIGs like him to reach beyond their dreams and proudly ‘carry the Philippine flag’ on their journey to the top. We hope that what Marlon is doing when he races in international competition and proudly flies the Philippine flag, will also inspire other IIGs to be proud of their Filipino heritage,” added Ambassador Baja.

He believes Stockinger could attract tourism into the Philippines if he continues to succeed in international motor racing, commending the young driver’s character and potential.

“Any sport requires self-discipline, training, determination, perseverance, strength of character, staying power and persistence in the face of adversity - characteristics that Marlon possesses. Without this make-up, Marlon would not have achieved so much at such a young age of 21. There is no doubt that his maturity coupled with his talents and determination will get him very far. He is still young but he has already achieved something most people his age have not,” he explained.

“We hope to make Marlon some kind of an ‘advertisement’ figure for the Philippines. His talents and achievements have already put the Philippines in the minds of racing enthusiasts. Hopefully, this will generate interests in the Philippines among racing enthusiasts, and others as well – those who have yet to discover the Philippines either as a business or a tourism destination. Other countries have used popular figures as their image or brand. That is what we need in the Philippines right now — to create a “Philippine brand” which we could successfully market to the world.”

Stockinger, the first Filipino racing driver to win a formula race at the world-famous Monaco circuit in May, is humbled by the invitation from the Philippine Embassy in Switzerland.

He told ABS-CBN Europe: “I am very proud to be a Filipino. The trip to the Philippine Embassy in Bern was a very humbling and a privileged experience for me. I felt very honored to have an invite and be able to raise awareness of my sport and what it means to represent the Philippines.”

“Tricky” Silverstone

The young GP3 driver, currently riding with Status Grand Prix, had a “tricky” racing weekend at the recent British Grand Prix in Silverstone, starting with a technical issue from the qualifying race.

“A technical issue concerning the turbo on the car failed, the team could not fix the problem and we could not set a competitive time due to the failure,” he explained.

“It was a bit disappointing we encountered technical problems during qualifying, which means I could not set a competitive time. This made the weekend very hard for myself and the team as we had to start from the back”.

Stockinger started Race 1 from 25th place as a result, but managed to finish at 16th after fighting his way forward from the back of the field. Portuguese Antonio Felix Da Costa from Carlin won the race, climbing up from 3rd place at the starting grid, closely followed by New Zealander Mitch Evans from MW Arden at 2nd, and Finn Aaro Vainio from Lotus GP at 3rd.

"I had an OK getaway at the start, but I was on a slippery side of the track and into the first corner I couldn’t get onto the dry line. I gained some positions, but at that point it was more important to survive the chaos. Then I picked my way through. It’s unfortunate that I had only 14 laps as I could have made a couple more places, but from where we started that’s the best we could do considering there were no real crashes ahead. It’s a shame about qualifying, because the team put a really good car together,” recalled Stockinger.

Race 2 proved to be equally challenging, as Stockinger failed to finish after spinning off the track at Becketts. British William Buller from Carlin won the race, followed by American Conor Daly from Lotus GP at 2nd, and Swiss Patric Neiderhauser from Jenzer Motorsport at 3rd.

"Unfortunately I made the wrong call to start on wets. The conditions were tricky but we were doing OK and overtaking people before the pit stop. Then after the stop I was pushing hard and I went off. I tried to give it my all, and I’d rather spin off while trying to get a good result than bring the car home as far back as I was at that time. If everyone had started on the same tyres, we would have shown good pace – it was my mistake, but we’ll bounce back,” said Stockinger.

Despite the setbacks, however, the racer remains positive and hopes to continue racing at the British circuit, saying: “I love the circuit and it feels like a home race for me since the Philippines does not have a Formula One circuit… yet. So I have a lot of memories here and I am really looking forward to making many more.”

Stockinger is currently at 10th place in the Drivers’ Championship with 39 points. He is now preparing for the next GP3 race at the German Grand Prix in Hockenheimring on July 20-22.