Story & Photos by Patrick P. Tulfo
MENTION FIA and the first thing that comes to mind of any ardent motorsport fan is Formula One (F1). After all, FIA, or the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, is the governing body of many auto racing events around the world and not only the hugely popular F1 series.
But aside from licensing and sanctioning big motorsport events, such as World Endurance Championship (WEC) and World Rally Championship (WRC), FIA is also actively promoting road safety around the world.
The promotion of road safety and the continued advancement of motorsport were the main topics at the media briefing of the sixth Annual FIA Sport Conference under the theme of “Empowering the Future: Unlocking Motor Sport’s Potential,” which was held recently at the five-star Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
FIA President Jean Todt said, “We do want to help all developing organization to promote motorsport and to promote road safety.” He added, “Clearly we want to make motorsport affordable and educational for the youth.”
He admitted, though, that motorsport is more expensive than playing football but, on the other hand, you can be involved in motorsport without having to spend huge amount of money. He said, “You can do motorsport without pretending to organize or be a competitor in Formula One. So, we have the grassroot level and we feel that this conference will also encourage partners and sponsors to participate in the motorsport in the Philippines.”
He asked the media to help in promoting the local motorsport by providing awareness to the people.
Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) President Gus Lagman, on the other hand, reinforced the statement of Todt by saying, “Unknown to many of you is that we have motorsports events every weekend of the year. And most of them are in Batangas, in Clark and some even are held in Cebu and Davao. We must mention grassroot level, we have the motorsport development program partly funded in the beginning by FIA. We have trained more than a thousand young drivers. Motorsport is alive and kicking in the Philippines better than it used to be in the past.”
And when the question cropped up on the possibility of bringing F1 in the country, Lagman replied that it requires an investment of at least $60 million and that is something he would like to see. He added that we would probably get there in a few years if we could find somebody to invest on a race circuit.
Todt said that you cannot expect the AAP to undertake all of these, it needs the help of the government. He said if you want to make the country better known, motor racing is a fantastic accelerator.
Lagman, meanwhile, thanked the FIA for choosing the country as the venue for the said conference. He said, “There are more than 200 clubs who will learn about it and this would put the Philippines and the AAP in the motorsports map.”
Aside from different booths from suppliers who participated in the three-day event, such as Petron, Brembo and Pirelli to name a few, participants were also treated to a display of driving skills at the Mall of Asia grounds, featuring cross cars that resemble a dune buggy driven deftly by skilled race drivers. The 2018 edition of the FIA Sport Conference in the Philippines was the first one to be held in Asia, as previously it took place in the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Italy and Switzerland.