Senin, 24 Januari 2011

Ultimate goal of Fil-Swiss racer is Formula 1

Fil-Swiss Marlon Stockinger, the first Filipino to win a formula race in Europe, shifts to a higher gear as he races in the 2011 GP3 Series, a vital step in his ultimate goal of zooming into the Formula One grid someday.

After making his mark as a driver for Atech GP in last year’s Michelin Formula Renault UK Series, where he secured a lights-to-flag victory in round 9 of the Croft Circuit and eighth place in the drivers’ table, the Pinoy champ felt he’s ready to take it to the next level.

“When you feel like you’ve accomplished enough in a series, your next course of action is to take it to a higher level. And for a driver aiming towards F1, the GP3 is the best logical step,” said the 19-year-old Stockinger during a press conference at the Shangri-La Makati yesterday.

Launched in 2010, the GP3 Series is designed as a feeder series for drivers and teams whose aim is to reach F1. It is considered a training ground for the GP2 Series, the next stage leading to F1.

The GP3 Series competes on several F1 support programs through the year, giving drivers first-hand experience of GP races and gaining all-important F1 exposure.

“Being in an amongst F1 teams and drivers, it’s really the best stage for young drivers like me to showcase our skills,” he explained.

Born in Manila to a Filipino mother and a Swiss father, Stockinger has been signed up by Atech CRS GP for its three-car lineup for the 2011 GP3 races, kicking off in Istanbul in May.

Stockinger aims to be the top rookie in the GP3 and his driver-coach Chris Wasserman and trainer Max Schoener both expressed belief the young lad has what it takes to reach this.

“He’s getting better and better. I think we’re on the right way,” said Schoener, tasked to look after Stockinger’s fitness.

Wasserman noted how the Fil-Swiss progressed through the three years they’ve been working together and his improved showing during tests.

Stockinger, a former Asian karting champ who moved to Europe after winning a Formula BMW Pacific Scholarship in 2008 and subsequently started racing there, admitted that the GP3 won’t be a cakewalk but he’s driven to achieve his goal.

“We’ll be competing against 30 drivers, the best F1 prospects out there and it’ll be very hard to get a podium finish. It’ll be a great challenge and hopefully, we can show up, prove that we deserve to be there,” said Stockinger, who always wears a Philippine flag on his suit to display his Filipino pride.

“Now, more than ever, the next few races will not just be about me. Beyond fulfilling my dream, I also want to show the world that Filipinos can stand out and make their mark in the international racing arena. My vision is to put the Philippines in the racing map,” he added.