On an overcast Sunday, Claire invites me to Enchanted Kingdom to see something I don’t normally go out of my way of: a karting event. Specifically, it was the fifth leg of the Magnolia Karting Series held in the sprawling EK field. “You gotta see these boys from the Ready2Race team, they’re really good!” she says. I oblige, mainly because the kids and I haven’t been to Enchanted Kingdom for a long time. Secondly, I wanted to learn something new, and karting is it.
If you’re crazy about the F1 races, you’d relate to this. It appears that the Philippines has been doing very well in international karting competitions and might as well be on the way to producing the first F1 racer. I was surprised to learn that the sport is by far one of the most expensive to maintain too. Which fairly explains why today’s pool of young karters come from exclusive enclaves like the International School, De la Salle Zobel, Brent and the whole lot of them. Cost for buying your own go kart with an engine and maintaining it easily tops P1 million a year.
To cut a long story short, there were close to 20 races in several categories that day which filled the EK field with adrenaline, speeding tires and karts travelling at almost a lightning speed. Claire proved to be right: the R2R team dominated the ROK overall and 14-year old Rafael “Roby” Benito emerged champion in the final lap with a time of 13 minutes, 52.080 seconds. His closest competitor Javi Benitez of Jet Racing Team trailed at 13 minutes, 52.185 seconds. Following in the next two were the rest of the R2R karters, Joey Orduna (13:53.542) and Juha Turalba (13:55.116).
Benito attributed his win to intense preparation and five-kilometer jogs. Prior to this, he topped the KF3 class of the 2009 PAGCOR KF2-KF3 series, aside from winning a host of other events. He is also an A student at De La Salle Zobel and a serious piano player.
Thirteener Orduna, on the other hand, is a Grade 8 student at IS Manila and was the top Asian finisher in the World ROK Cup finals in Lonato Italy. He was 2007 MiniROK champion and the 2008 ROK Jr. Novice Champion in the Shell Super Karting Series.
Juha Turalba, who is in Grade 10 at IS, won top honors in the Kartodromo de Coloane Circuit in Macau and was 2008 ROK 125 Champion. His father, Toti Turalba whom we met once before at the family-owned Malarayat golf estate, said: “Karting has given me the venue to really enjoy being a father and having a son. It has given me countless proud moments.” True enough, he acts as Juha’s coach, mechanic and inspiration on the track.”
Anyway, watch out for these young guys! Here’s our humble picture of the winning R2R team. Congratulations!