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Steady progress help Axel Nocom score points in COTF Academy at Valencia

As this year’s karting season go into full swing, Axel Nocom is now beginning find his footing on international turf after delivering his best-ever result in the Champions of the Future (COTF) Academy Program. The 12-year-old secured 15th place in the Finals on Sunday when the championship visited the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero in Valencia, Spain to score points in Round 2.

Axel applied his learnings from the season opener in Cremona to quickly get up to speed on an unfamiliar 1.428 km circuit. Despite the lack in track time, it only took him a few sessions to be on pace and was only half a second off the fastest driver during Free Practice.

However, one hurdle he had to contend with was the traffic in Qualifying. With 36 karters all trying to get a clean run, timing was crucial. In the end, Axel managed a 56.711 secs lap in less than ideal conditions and was only 0.494 secs away from pole good enough for P15 on the grid.

The real action started on Saturday with Axel getting in the thick of things in Heat 1. Despite some incidents, the Filipino karter made it to the finish and was later classified in 25th due to a drop bumper penalty. Things eventually came together for Axel in Heat 2. An incident-free run allowed him to cross the line in 14th after taking a spot away from Ella Hakkinen – daughter of 2-time Formula 1 champion Mika Hakkinen.

Ever since moving his races to Europe, stamina has always been a shortcoming for Axel. This was made even more evident during the 17-lap Finals where his goal was to simply make it to the chequered flag. While he managed to hold position in the opening stages, his pace began to drop off with 6 laps to go. Adding insult to injury, he was involved in a last lap tussle that lost him a handful of spots and cross the line in 23rd.

With so much promise from the first day of racing, Axel came back tougher on Sunday. He again ended Qualifying in P15, but this time was only 0.301 secs slower than the pole sitter. Axel managed to get as high up as P11 on the opening lap of Heat 1 before settling back to P15 for the remainder of the race ’til the chequered flag dropped. He was then promoted to 13th after post-race penalties were handed out.

Axel’s heroic efforts in Heat 2 yielded P13 across the line, but another drop bumper penalty pushed him down to 18th. Despite this, his combined results from the Heats allowed him to start the 17-lap Final on Sunday in P11—Axel’s best ever start thus far in COTF.

The lone Filipino entry on the OK-N Junior grid would get a clean getaway and get as high as P7 at the end of the first lap. But contact on lap 3 relegated him down to P12 before another incident on lap 8 almost sent him into a spin. Although he managed to continue, it damaged the water pump on his #21 kart and caused overheating issues. Down on power, Axel was no longer able to fight and had to nurse his kart to the finish where he concluded the race weekend at Valencia in an impressive 15th place.

Aside from scoring his first points of the season in the COTF Academy Program, it was also Axel’s first DNF-free race weekend as compared to Cremona where he failed to finish on 3 occasions. He’ll now continue focusing on his fitness program in preparation for the next event on the 26th/28th of July in Franciacorta, Italy with the goal of lasting the full race distance.

Axel Nocom is supported by the Mercedes Young Driver Development Philippines, Ceramic Pro, Drift Motor Speedway, Cammus Philippines, Recaro Philippines, Alaska Milk Corporation, Ekartraceway, Apex Racing Philippines, Pregame Motorsport Merchandise, DENSO, Burlington, DG Budget Hotel, and Time Attack Manila.

For more info and the latest updates, follow the Axel Motorsports page on Facebook.

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Koby Del Rosario

Koby Del Rosario

A student of the De La Salle University Manila taking up BS in Advertising, Koby continuously strives to learn and develop his knowledge and skills as a sports writer and as an events host and photographer.
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Koby Del Rosario

Koby Del Rosario

A student of the De La Salle University Manila taking up BS in Advertising, Koby continuously strives to learn and develop his knowledge and skills as a sports writer and as an events host and photographer.
View All Posts