3x local MiniROK champion Axel Nocom is going regional this year by contesting in the Rok Cup Singapore. But while the 2023 season got off to a rocky start (after he was stripped of his win), the 11-year-old quickly overcame adversity by delivering a podium finish last March 19/20 at the KF1 Karting Circuit.
It was only a month ago when Axel enjoyed what was supposed to be a dream MiniROK debut in Singapore. Dominant all weekend and winning the Finals, he was later disqualified after it was discovered that he was running an older-spec piston during scrutineering. The error was unintentional as the team was unaware of the rule changes and provided no performance gain. Though it was a tough pill to swallow, the team accepted the decision and switched their focus to the next event.
Running with 29R Racing Development (and a new legal piston fitted), he returned to the Lion City for Round 2 of the series and another shot at victory lane. It was also a great opportunity for Axel to catch up with his ERacing GP buddies such as brothers Yevan and Yevin David, Dillan Tan, Emiliano Cyrus, Keith Ryan, and Nicolas Stati who were with him on track that weekend. Axel has been racing with them in eSports since the start of the pandemic, but has never met them in person before.
The Mercedes Young Driver Development Philippines graduate was a consistent front runner in MiniROK during the practice sessions on Saturday. A near-perfect lap would allow then him to qualify on Pole Position on Sunday by a slim 0.026 secs margin. But with less than a second separating the Top 5 drivers, Axel knew that he had to keep his head down if he wanted that race win.
Some hub issues during the Heat and Pre-Finals prevented him from mounting a serious challenge to his rivals and only managed 3rd place. But the minor technical issues were resolved before the Finals and he could now go on full attack mode.
However, his woes didn’t end there. It rained right before the Finals, forcing the team to quickly switch to a wet weather setup and forcing Axel to compete with 0 wet weather racing experience on the KF1 Karting Circuit. But that didn’t deter the young Filipino karter from taking the lead early on. He would stay in P1 for 10 out of the 16 lap race, keeping 2 local champions at bay.
It would have been an easy win for Axel if it weren’t for some backmarkers who refused to let him go by. This lost him valuable time and more importantly track position as soon as his rivals caught up. Unable to regain the positions he had lost, Axel was forced to settle for 3rd place for a final spot on the podium.
Although it was not the results he would have wanted, Axel was still happy with the racing experience overall. Competing on an unfamiliar track, on difficult conditions, with different competitors is the type of challenge he truly loves. Meeting new friends and his sim racing buddies was definitely a big plus.
Axel Nocom is supported by Motul Infiniteserv International, Alaska Milk Corporation, and Recaro Philippines. For more info and the latest updates, follow the Axel Motorsports page on Facebook.
[Photos courtesy of Rok Cup Singapore]