DRIFT MOTOR Speedway’s Yuan Bugayong triumphs in Petron Cadet karts at Palawan


Yuan Gavin Bugayong is one of the newest drivers on the grid at this year’s Petron Motorsports Karting Academy Super Karting Series. Yet, this 11-year-old has already won 2 out of 2 events in 2023, with his latest victory coming from the Palawan International Circuit (PIC).

It’s somewhat fair to say that this kid ‘lives on the race track’. His family owns and operates DRIFT MOTOR Speedway in Taytay, Rizal where he first got into karting when the facility opened back in August of 2022. Although he gets to drive A LOT at his home track, stepping up into Formula Cadets is still a big leap for young Yuan. He had to adapt from electric karts (that could only go up to 45 km/h) to 4-stroke 200cc petrol-power. Then there’s the places that he races on. Compared to the tight-and-twisty indoor venue he’s used to, he now has to contend with much larger circuits that are open to the weather.

Yuan got his first taste of a class victory at the Carmona Race Track (CRT) in March. Impressively, he finished 1st in Formula Cadet Novice on his series debut and 2nd overall across the finish line. His team DRIFT MOTOR Racing Team then decided to see how they would measure up at the 1.300 km track in Palawan for Round 2 of the championship.

In spite of limited practice on an unfamiliar circuit, Yuan immediately went fastest overall during Warm Up on Saturday morning. He was then 2nd during the Time Trial just behind Cadet Expert Class driver Lucas Aldave. The pair was inseparable in Qualifying Heat 1 and exchanged places at almost every lap. But as he was competing in a different category, Yuan decided to play the long game as not to risk committing a mistake and stayed behind Lucas across the line but still 1st in his class.

A sudden downpour on Sunday morning mixed things up for Qualifying Heat 2. Yuan misjudged the drying surface and overshot Turn 1 on the very first lap and mowed across the slippery grass runoff. This is where his indoor karting experience paid off that allowed him to catch the slide and rejoin the track without losing too much time in P5. The excursion, surprisingly, had little to no effect on Yuan and even pushed him to drive harder. He fought his way back up the standings over the course of 7 laps to finish 1st Overall with a huge 16.700 secs lead.

With the track now all dried up, Yuan wasted no time to take the race lead during the Finals. The DRIFT MOTOR Racing Team karter would open up another massive 5.923 secs advantage when the chequered flag dropped to secure 1st Overall and in Cadet Novice, with the fastest lap of the race in tow.

Thanks to his impressive performance in Palawan, Yuan now leads the championship in Formula Cadet Novice by 34 points. While the next round is still in July at the Clark International Speedway Kart Track, there are plans for the young karter to enter the Asian Karting Open Championship (AKOC) in Macau at the end of June.

Yuan Bugayong is supported by DRIFT XAUST, K&N Filters Philippines, AmsOil Philippines, and Motolite Quick Delivery.

[Photos courtesy of Rotax Max Challenge Philippines]