Although young Axel Nocom has made a habit out of winning, the 11-year-old is always up for a new challenge. That came in the form of the Macau Asia Karting Festival x Asian Karting Open Championship where he clashed with some of the top drivers in the region and (barely) landed on the MiniRok podium.
Axel was 1 of only 3 entries from the Philippines who braved to raced in MiniRok, while the rest of his local counterparts decided to step down to Cadets. We don’t blame them as the grid consisted of a number of very capable drivers who are staples in the WSK Euro Series and US Pro Kart Series just to name a few. But as they say, steel sharpens steel.
Mercedes Young Driver Development Philippines arrived at the Coloane Karting Track just in time for Free Practice on Thursday. This gave Axel enough time to get reacquainted with the 1.200 km circuit before the official sessions began. Although the team had to spend a bit of time sorting out small technical issues, Axel was on pace despite having no coach. And to show just how tight the competition is, only half a second split the Top 6 karters during Time Trials on Friday. Axel in particular was only 0.357 secs off yet ended up in 5th.
Saturday was another chance for Axel to prove his worth out on track. Starting from P5, he was locked in a tight battle with the lead pack for the entirely of Heat 1. It was a good way for him to practice his racecraft as he swapped positions lap-after-lap, eventually moving up a spot to finish in 4th.
Unfortunately, luck was not on his side come Heat 2. Axel’s #501 kart suffered a tire puncture after making contact with a competitor as he challenged for position, leaving him dead last. Hopes to end the day on a high note was later dashed when Heat 3 and the PreFinals were both cancelled due to poor weather conditions.
This left Axel with no choice but to deliver results in the Finals. Not an easy feat especially when starting way back in P6 in a wet race, though a last-minute sprocket change and tire pressure adjustment proved to be crucial to his performance. Instead of going gung ho and risking the race at the first corner, Axel played the long game. He waited for the opportune moment to pick off his competitor and made it up to P4. That’s when he started to hound Yao Yu Kun from Hong Kong all the way to the chequered flag. Axel made a last-gasp dive over the line to score 3rd place in a photo-finish at Macau.
Axel Nocom is supported by Mercedes Young Driver Academy Philippines, Motul Infiniteserv International, Alpinestars, Alaska Milk Corporation, Recaro Philippines, DENSO, and SKRATCH LABS Energy Bar.
For more info and the latest updates, follow the Axel Motorsports page on Facebook.
[Photos by Bong Boado]