BACK ON TRACK

What is fail­ure but the most ex­treme and ex­quis­ite form of ex­pe­ri­ence? and What is the race­track but an en­try point to the school of life? meet race car driver mar­lon stockinger.

Town & Country (Philippines) - - CONTENTS / JUNE - By Ni­cole Li­mos

Fame comes with the ter­ri­tory, but that matters very lit­tle to race car driver Mar­lon Stockinger.

It was an im­por­tant day for GP3, a sin­gle-seater mo­tor rac­ing se­ries. For the first time since GP3’s in­cep­tion in 2010, it was hold­ing a race at the Cir­cuit de Monaco, ar­guably the most fa­mous track in For­mula One—a dream ex­pe­ri­ence for young drivers who aimed to make it to F1 like then 21-year-old Mar­lon Stockinger.

FOR THE pHILIp­pINES

A few laps into the 2012 race with 13 mean ma­chines blast­ing at 300kph and al­ready the smell of burn­ing rub­ber and ex­haust fumes filled the air. The race looked like it was off to a good start till a car clipped the tail of an­other, send­ing it into the air be­fore flip­ping and land­ing up­side down. The in­ci­dent slowed every­one down. It would have set back Mar­lon Stockinger, who was in the lead, but he had his eyes on the prize. De­fend­ing his po­si­tion, he took on the pres­sure from Por­tu­gal’s Antonio Felix da Costa who des­per­ately yet dy­nam­i­cally trailed behind through­out the race. Mar­lon wouldn’t let him get ahead. He had to keep the top po­si­tion, he told him­self, and so he did. Some drivers be­gan los­ing con­trol, and a few more laps and sev­eral more col­li­sions into the sec­ond half of the race, the track’s side fence got dam­aged and the race had to end at 14 laps in­stead of 18. Mar­lon Stockinger had won.

This 2012 GP3 Se­ries round in Monaco was Mar­lon’s de­but first place win in the GP3, and more im­por­tantly, he says, it was also the Philip­pines’ first. “Mar­lon Stockinger did ev­ery­thing right. Not just did ev­ery­thing right, but he put up with so much pres­sure from Antonio Felix da Costa,” said the race’s TV an­nouncer as Mar­lon’s car slowed down in the win­ner’s lane. “For Stockinger, it’s an­other fab­u­lous re­sult. It’s his sec­ond visit to the podium. The first time was the very first race of the sea­son and that was for sec­ond po­si­tion. To­day, though, it’s for a win, and a richly de­served one.”

“Woohoo!” Mar­lon shouted in care­less aban­don as got out of his car. He raised his fists in the air and yelled an­other time, ob­vi­ously un­able to con­tain his joy. He saw his fa­ther, Tom Stockinger, whom he em­braced and lifted up in ex­cite­ment. “Great to see his emotions here with a win at Monaco, and it was not an easy win. Not easy at all soak­ing up all the pres­sure from pole po­si­tion, not making a mis­take from pole, lead­ing the way. He drove ab­so­lutely beau­ti­fully,” con­tin­ued the an­nouncer.

Mar­lon saw the TV cam­era pan to his face and took the chance to send his love and air kisses. “For the Philip­pines!” he shouted with pride and joy. Later on, he took to the podium and raised his tro­phy. The Philip­pine na­tional an­them was played as the Philip­pine flag was raised and Mar­lon Stockinger, the only Filipino race car driver to have made it this far into For­mula rac­ing, was in tears. “A win any­where is spe­cial,” said the an­nouncer, “but in Monaco it is ex­tra spe­cial.”

up TO SpEED

Mar­lon has won nu­mer­ous races, “too many to count with my hands,” he says non­cha­lantly, but this win in GP3 was in­deed ex­tra spe­cial. It was a proud mo­ment for the Philip­pines in For­mula rac­ing, with Mar­lon earn­ing the coun­try’s first honors in that cat­e­gory. Other no­table wins for Mar­lon in­clude be­ing the 2006 Asian Kart­ing cham­pion, the 2007 Philip­pine Ro­tax Max cham­pion, and the 2008 For­mula BMW Pa­cific Schol­ar­ship win­ner, apart from other ac­com­plish­ments in For­mula Re­nault, For­mula Re­nault 3.5 Se­ries, and the Blanc­pain GT Se­ries, which he raced in last year. “It brings me so much joy to carry the coun­try’s flag, to have it on my car,” he says. “It doesn’t even need to have my name on it, just the flag.”

He is more Filipino than any­one can imag­ine. Behind his fair skin, brown eyes, and chis­eled face is a boy born and raised in Manila by a Swiss fa­ther and Filipino mother; who played tum­bang preso and piko with his two younger sib­lings; who spent af­ter­noons on the streets of La Huerta, Parañaque, with his cousins and grand­mother; and who en­joys Filipino food.

Un­like his class­mates, how­ever, Mar­lon didn’t head to bas­ket­ball clin­ics on week­ends or foot­ball train­ing af­ter school. He spent his time ei­ther with Cal­car­rie’s, an in­ter­na­tional mod­el­ing agency, or on the race­track in Car­mona, Cavite, with his fa­ther, who in­tro­duced him to kart rac­ing at age nine. He dreamt of be­com­ing one of those race­track dare­dev­ils he and his fa­ther watched on TV. Se­duced by speed and moved by the adren­a­line rush, Mar­lon found a sense of pur­pose on the track. “In my first race, I got a tro­phy,” he re­calls. “I think it came nat­u­rally. The talent was there and I knew I had to put in the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion.”

The road to For­mula One is never easy. Mar­lon con­tin­ues to drive in the GP3 se­ries. Drivers usu­ally move up rac­ing classes not only through prac­tice, talent, hard work, and win­ning, but through spon­sor­ships and out­side sup­port. It is a very ex­pen­sive sport, and so Mar­lon feels very lucky to have par­ents who have been sup­port­ing him and finding spon­sor­ships to help him carry on with his pro­fes­sion. “I’ll for­ever be in­debted to my par­ents in this re­gard be­cause they have been super sup­port­ive and they have al­ways be­lieved in my abil­i­ties,” he says. “I want to re­turn the fa­vor in a way and win more races and cham­pi­onships for

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