Palaweño entrepreneur and kart racer Anthony Junior Baisa did the country proud with his recent win in the Masters Division at the 2018 Asian Karting Open Championship (AKOC). The event was held at the world-class Kartodromo De Coloane in Macau, China last December 6 to 9.
Baisa is the first Palaweño to bag a significant win in what is regarded as the most prestigious karting event in the Asian region. It was, however, not an easy journey. He had to beat the odds by overcoming health struggles during the first three days of the competition.
“I had a major setback because of my allergic reaction to a medicine I took. I drank a pain reliever. Hindi ko alam na may allergic reaction ako sa Ibuprofen. In the first three days of the race, I suffered from an allergic reaction, and na-overdose pa,” he shared.
Baisa said he suffered from facial and body swelling, abdominal pain, and muscle fatigue which restricted his driving movements. Thankfully, it subsided on the fourth day of the competition’s final race.
Apart from health issues, Baisa had to compete against seasoned opponents who were way ahead in the game concerning kart setup and familiarity of the track layout. The road to victory got even harder to tread when isolated rain showers during Finals Day added to the list of challenges Baisa had to face.
“No one was prepared for the rain in Macau. No team was prepared for a rain-drenched kart racing setup. Kasi iba-iba ‘yong setup ng sasakyan, merong for dry and for wet [na kart]. All of my competitors were, of course, ahead of me. Kasi the setup was for dry at that time. Pero when the setup went to wet mode the last minute, I told myself ‘that’s my advantage’ already,” he said.
Baisa was able to advance onwards during the last day. Due to heavy rains, the race was no longer just about the ability of a souped-up engine. A fine-tuned driving skill and an eye for the track was now the name of the game.
This gave Baisa a significant advantage. Practicing at his home track in Palawan during rainy weather honed his driving skills in wet conditions. Hence, the racing crowd marveled at Baisa’s performance in the finals, speeding through the track in the pouring rain. Baisa initially started 8th in the grid and overtook everyone after three laps.
Eventually, Baisa’s never-say-die attitude gave him the four points he needed to win the Overall Championship for the Masters Division.
Baisa is a 37-year old rookie karter. His passion for kart racing started in 2017 when he took his kids to race lessons during weekends.
Destiny changed for the elder Baisa when the Palawan Karting team happened to be recruiting for a new member. They readily took in Baisa for his innate skills and right attitude for kart racing. And being a natural-born fighter, Baisa readily accepted the challenge.
Baisa recalled his first two days on the track were spent practicing with snow gloves and sneakers. These were, in fact, inappropriate gears for the sport.
“Alam mo kasi if para sa’yo ang isang bagay, mapapasayo talaga iyan. Pero syempre, you have to pour your heart and soul into it if you want something,” he stated. “I race because of my kids. I want them to have a strong fighting spirit and to show them how to be the right person when on the road and during the race.”
Fast-forward today, Baisa’s two children are likewise into kart racing as well. However, Baisa remains firm on his rule that their good academic standing will never be compromised because of racing. It’s an effective motivation since his daughter Tammy, and son Brice has been consistent in balancing their studies and their extra-curricular activities.
Fourteen-year-old Tammy won Overall 3rd runner-up in the Junior Class of the AKOC. Brice, on the other hand, placed 25th Overall in the Minirok Class due to a major accident during the finals.
Baisa’s momentous AKOC win is his fourth title this year. He is also the 2018 Overall Champion of the Petron Palawan Motorsports Championship, 2018 X30 Philippines Challenge and 2018 ROK GP Philippines Cup.
Moving forward, Baisa is also slated to have his racing team — Asia B Racing Team, officially registered under the Automobile Association of the Philippines. The racing team will also have an international accreditation from Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the Commission Internationale de Karting, the specialized Karting commission of the FIA.
One of Baisa’s advocacies is to promote kart racing in Physical Education (P.E.) classes in all Palawan-based schools. Karting is a high-speed sport with very high G-force on twists and turns that can affect the body.
Hence, Baisa said one has to be truly physically fit before getting into the sport. The pain usually is unnoticeable due to the adrenaline rush, but once the driver is out of the car, that’s when pain sets in.
“The body pain is unbearable most of the time. But because it is your passion, you have to fight for it every step of the way,” he stated.
Baisa and the Asia B Racing Team has shifted their focus to a bigger challenge in local and international shores next year. The 2019 race season will commence on February 9, 2019, at the Clark International Speedway.
There will be a total of 17 races for the whole 2019, of which 12 are national races and five are international.
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