Ryan Sy shines in the rain as Rotax Max Challenge ’22 passes halfway point


12-year-old Ryan Sy knows better than to fear the rain. Often misunderstood, it simply needs to be tamed with finesse and conquered with courage. And when these come together, great things happen such as Ryan’s win during the Rotax Max Challenge Philippines’ double header at Carmona Race Track (CRT) in July.

Much like the previous Rok GP event, the PCRC karter had his hands full with Rounds 3 and Rounds 4 both crammed in a rain-affected Saturday. Things would get off to a slow start with Ryan struggling in the morning, finishing 3.306 secs behind the Junior Class winner in the Semi Finals to take 5th. His fortunes only got worse in the Finals. With the race getting underway in the dry, Ryan drove brilliantly to climb from P5 to P2 in under 2 laps. But the red flags came out as soon as the rain started to fall so that everyone can switch to wets. His pit crew then had to hurriedly change the #79 kart’s setup before sending him back out on track. However, the stop took longer than expected and placed him at the back of the grid. It may have been a tall order to catch up to P1, but not impossible. What is impossible, on the other hand, is to finish with only 3 wheels. The right rear tire came undone on lap 8, which was probably not secured properly during the rushed tire change, forcing Ryan to watch the race unfold in the sidelines.

There were a lot of lessons to be learned from the disappointments in the morning. First is to always tighten your wheels nut properly. Second is to relax, don’t overdrive, and enjoy the race.

Ryan was a completely different driver in the afternoon. He was untouchable in the wet, setting the quickest lap in Time Trials by over a tenth of a second. This would translate into a lights-to-flag victory in the Semi Finals with a slim 0.365 secs lead over championship leader Bern Corpino. He carried this momentum into the all-important Finals and delivered a repeat performance to claim 1st place, but this time Ryan was able to stomp his dominance in the rain and opened up a 5.527 secs advantage by the time the chequered flag dropped.

His mastery of slippery conditions didn’t happen overnight. Ryan recalls that he particularly enjoyed practicing on a wet track back in his MiniRok days, so dancing his kart in the rain all now comes naturally to him. Fingers crossed, the weather will again be in his favor next time the Rotax Max Challenge Philippines is back in action, on the 8th/9th of October for the final 2 rounds of 2022. With his most recent race win, Ryan is now 3rd in the Junior Class standings – 51 points behind the championship leader.

Ryan Sy: “I went from being nervous to wishing that all the races were in the wet in just a single day. I now find racing in the rain fun and somewhat relaxing. You’re constantly on the limit and drifting, giving you that adrenaline rush. I also learned that I should try to calm down more. My problem during Round 3 was that I was so ‘gigil’ which slowed me down. When I overcame this in Round 4 I was able to stay in front. I want to thank my parents for supporting me the whole time. My mechanics uncle Red and uncle Jesse, my coach Elson for teaching me since MiniRok how to drive in the rain.”

Ryan Sy is sponsored by MAX888, LF JOY Realty Inc., WrapTeck, Resultado, and Gardenia. For more info and updates, follow @ryangogogo_ on Instagram.

[Photos by Bong Boado]