FIASC 2018 unlocks future of motor sport in PH


The dust has settled. The e-karts are packed, and what’s left of the x-crossers, gymkhana and drifters are just tread marks on the open grounds of SM MOA.

Nonetheless, the three-day FIA Sport Conference has already left a spot embedded in the hearts of Filipino motor sports fans.

And just like that, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s  500-strong delegation from all over the world experienced the Philippines’ ability to be recognized as a potential market in motor sport culture.

The recently concluded FIA Sport Conference 2018 held at Conrad Manila just made history with the Philippines as the first country in the Asia Pacific to hold such a conference.

It was an ambitious attempt to bring together the who’s who in motor sport, and introduce to Filipinos what was once an unreachable motor sport culture.

In spite of the notion of being a sport for the elite, this 6th edition of the conference went beyond expectations, and brought the business to business (B2B) activities to the next level.

The three-day conference was put together in partnership with the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) and the Department of Tourism, with the support of Petron Corporation, BMW Philippines, and Hyundai Philippines.

An annual event, the FIA Sport Conference aims to provide the FIA’s 141 national sporting authorities with a privileged platform to exchange experience and knowledge amongst themselves and other motor sport stakeholders.

In general, the event aims to share best practice and fresh ideas to help further achieve safe, sustainable, and competitive motor sport nationwide.

“This region is one of the most exciting and fastest growing in world motor sport, with grassroots competitions flourishing, and more and more talented drivers progressing the top levels in many disciplines,” said Jean Todt, FIA president and 14-time Ferrari world champion.

“One of the key challenges we face today is how to engage with the younger generations, and inspire them to get involved in our great sport, both as fans, and as competitors,” Todt added.

Looking ahead

The theme for this 6th edition of the FIA Sport Conference is Empowering the Future: Unlocking Motor Sport’s Potential, which has naturally led to the creation of an exciting program that looks ahead to a bright and diverse global motor sport landscape in the region.

Alongside the conference, the FIA Sport MotorEx was organized at the function rooms of the Conrad Manila.

The MotorEx is a motoring exhibition designed to provide an opportunity for the 29 exhibitors to present their innovative products and new services, including technological developments, improvements in safety, fuel efficiency, use of electric motors, electronic systems, and other brands within motor sport.

Truly an eye-candy for Filipinos engaged in motor sport.

“One of the most exciting things is happening now in the country,” said Augusto Lagman, president of AAP.

“If we put structure in place, I guarantee you that opportunities would come in the region.  We develop pyramid rallies, and initiate grassroots in motor sport development,” Lagman added.

Among the many motoring personalities who gave talks at the conference were Forumla One Group CEO Chase Carey, FIA safety deputy president Graham Stoker, Formula 3 Asia Championship promoter Davide De Gobbi, Filipino racing driver Marlon Stockinger, HongKong Automonile Association president Kenneth Ng, and AAP motorsports committee chairman Jose Armando Eduque.

Creating a motor sport culture

The first session of the FIA Sport Conference explored how a motor sport culture can be created, particularly in new markets, as well as the challenges that can be encountered when trying to do so.

This includes the steps that can be taken to educate new audiences to increase interest, and by extension, attendance at motor sport events.

Leading figures from championships and circuits offered insights that were relevant for established tracks as well as new motor racing venues in the Philippines.

Motor sport activities were held on the conference’s second and third day.

The rock stars of motor sport flew into the country, headed by Brazilian F1 champion Felipe Massa.

In order to promote e-karts as the next generation of racing, Massa took up the advocacy of attracting the next generation of racers, and has made great progress in third world countries, including the Philippines.

To this end, delegates were encouraged to build on the many success stories made possible by the FIA Sport Grant Programme, of which 2019 applications were opened during the Conference in Manila.

Future of motor sport

The second plenary session of the FIA Sport Conference 2018 talked about the future of motor sport, and focused on who will be the future participants and fans, and how the audience will engage in it.

Topics ranged from the future of karting, to the role of eSports in grassroots motor sport.

“The time I spent most in my career was finding sponsors—it was the thing I was speaking about most everyday, because I didn’t have the money to race—with the mentality that my dream was to arrive in Formula One,” revealed Massa, who is the new CIK-FIA president, and an 11-time F1 Grand Prix winner.

“Definitely, finding the budget to race is quite difficult and quite expensive. But I think your talent is more important than anything. I think that it is not only now that is difficult. It’s been like that for a long time. It was difficult, though, and it is in many sports, to achieve the best,” Massa added.

E-karting is now a realistic option for young people looking for a way into the sport. It is a very good solution to a lot of problems, including cost.

A proper grass-root program is very important for karting, gymkhana racing, and rallycross, which were all present at the exhibition, giving the Filipino public a taste of the much talked about motor sport culture.

The prestigious FIA Sport Conference 2018 is about unlocking the potential of motor sport, and the success of the conference in Manila is an indication that a dream is now speeding its way to the region.

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