MILO Rivera is a karting, circuit and slalom champion rollead into one.
He was selected by the Automobile Association Philippines to represent the Philippines in the 2014 Asia Pacific Selection Event of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy at the Federation of Automobile Sports of China Training Base in Beijing, China.
Milo was also invited by Jenzer Motorsports, a team based in Switzerland, to race for them in the 2016 FIA German and Italian Formula 4 Championships–a series that serves as a feeder program for several premier championships, among others, Formula 1.
Aside from these, Milo is also a certified motorsports instructor and is part of the AAP National Motorsport Development Program team of driver instructors.
And he’s just 20 years old.
And so when Milo, together with veteran racer Carlos Anton represented the Philippines in the FIA Taiwan Auto Gymkhana Prix last week in Taichung, Taiwan, you just knew the country’s bid was in good hands.
This was despite the fact that 32 of the world’s best slalom/gymkhana drivers from 12 countries, took part in the prestigious race, that lured the big names such as the Japanese pair of 9-time All-Japan Gymkhana Champion Masaki Nishihara and 15-time All-Japan Gymkhana Champion, 7-time All-Japan GT Champion “Mr. Subaru” Tetsuya Yamano; 13-time Indonesian Slalom Champion James Sanger and 5-time reigning Indonesian Slalom Champion Demas Agil Ramadani, aside from champion racers from Taiwan, Korea, Australian and Malaysia.
True enough, Milo and eight-time Driver of the Year Carlos pulled off a rare feat in Taiwan, besting a tough field to clinch top honors in the Team Knockout competition.
The duo also finished 1-2 in the individual qualifying competition against 32 champion drivers, with Rivera gaining the top spot in 170.184 seconds. Anton posted 171.184 seconds.
“It was a very surreal moment for me. I did not expect to win such a prestigious championship on my very first try, especially going up against the best of the best when it comes to slalom and gymkhana racing. For me, the feeling of knowing I was the overall champion was indescribable. I was lost for words and actions for a while. But once everything sunk in, the first thing I did was to inform everyone back home for they have all been a big part of my success,” said Milo, thanking parents Sammy and Fanny, and little brother Estefano, himself a karting/slalom racing champ.
Indonesian champion Ramadani placed third in 174.533, followed by “Living Legend” Yamano (176.524) and Taiwan’s champion Kai-Cing Yea (180.341).
In the team competition, Milo and Carlos knocked out Team Nepal and Team Taiwan-D to make it to the semifinals, where they upended fancied Team Korea, which beat powerhouse Japan.
The two struggled past the Korean drivers to reach the finals against Team Taiwan-A.
“The odds were stacked against us and it was intimidating with the hometown crowd cheering for them. But it was such a wonderful experience to race along the most elite drivers from across the region, and to come out on top is such a blessing from Above. I am very thankful to the Lord for blessing me not only with the victory, but with the opportunity to represent my country and to enjoy it with the people around me,” said Milo.
Team Philippines bucked the odds, with Rivera holding his own against Taiwanese racing legend Wei-Sheng Lian, who cracked under the intense pressure and hit a post.
Anton then took it home, keeping Rivera’s lead against Di-Jun Lin.
“It’s a dream come true. The Philippines is No. 1 in Asia Zone Gymkhana,” said Anton, who teamed up with his current teammate’s uncle Noel when they finished third 11 years ago. “I thank my teammate Milo, who is a talented driver.”
In return, Milo also praised his teammate for the guidance.
“A huge thanks to my teammate, Carlos Anton for being a father-figure during the whole weekend. We pulled each other up towards a common goal. And together, we succeeded. He is truly one of the country’s finest race car drivers and it was such an honor to race side-by-side with him, and to win it all for the country together,” said Milo, who is just warming up.
“Our immediate goal is to continue to set our sights on single-seater racing in Europe, as I am still keen on my dream to land on the Formula 1 grid. It may be a very steep mountain to climb, but with persistence, determination, and Faith, who knows what the future holds,” said Rivera.
“Massive thanks to the Automobile Association Philippines for selecting me and for moulding me to become the race car driver I am today. To RACE Motorsports Club for being a catalyst of slalom racing in the country, Gulfspeed and Placewell International. Since this is a yearly championship, I look forward to next year as I defend the world title for the first time,” said Milo.
We look forward for that, too.