It was an unforgettable experience for Iñigo Anton at the inaugural Olympic Esports Week (OEW) held at the Suntec Centre in Singapore. He was the lone Filipino Olympian to compete in an OEW official event and proudly raised the Philippine flag as he made it into the Finals of the Motorsports event.
The 19-year-old topped the national qualifiers organized by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) last May. And after the vetting process conducted by the FIA, he was chosen to be one of the 30 competitors for the OEW.
Even with his lack of experience in Gran Turismo 7, which was the game of choice for the event, Iñigo still managed to show impressive pace in the competition. For the past 3 years, he has been racing on rFactor and Assetto Corsa with his Eracing team, Axle Sports, with no less than former Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong as his coach. He also received a lot of support from his teammate Aleef Hamilton, as well as from the local sim racing community, with pro sim racer Luis Moreno helping him prepare for the Olympics.
Facing 30 plus of the best sim racers from around the world, Iñigo stood his ground. Drivers were divided into 2 groups in the Quarter Finals where he managed to top the Group 2 qualifiers with a fastest time of 1:15.531. This earned him a slot in the Semi Finals and finished 11th in the rankings.
Now for the all-important Finals, only the fastest 12 would be given a slot on the grid for the main 42-lap race with Iñigo qualifying in P8 during the 1-lap shootout. “I knew I was going to be up against the world’s best Gran Turismo drivers, so I just focus on my own game, just do my best, and enjoy the experience,” he shared on his mindset heading into the final race.
Iñigo’s choice of tires at the start of the race left him struggling for pace in the opening laps. His race strategy did not pan out too well either. Although he planned for a 1-stop strategy, he ended up pitting for tires twice. The hard compound tires degraded faster than anticipated. Iñigo then had to make an extra stop with only 3 laps to go due to a tire puncture and cross the finish in 12th. He shared that his inexperience with Gran Turismo 7 put him at a disadvantage in terms of race strategy.
Participating at such a prestigious event was a huge milestone Iñigo. He didn’t even expect to get into the Finals, because it was his first-ever on-site sim racing event on an Olympic stage and the fact that the other finalists were Gran Turismo World Cup drivers.
Sharing his strategy for the event, “You have to adapt to whatever equipment they provide. Again, I’ve been racing in different disciplines in motorsports and I can say that one of my biggest strengths is being able to adapt to a different car right away.”
The standout driver has been racing since he was only 8-years-old. He notes that his experience from slalom and autocross racing fueled his ability to perform well under pressure. This is what he believes that got him into the Olympics Esports Week as he expresses, “I guess I really just have to say it was my 10 years of experience in real racing and learning how to overcome pressure that got me here.”
Speaking on what’s next for himself, Iñigo resoundingly shares, “I will continue to live my passion, to grow and learn, and to grab every opportunity I am given, whether in sim or real life racing. I will keep on pushing forward because so many people continue to support and believe in me.”