It's speed galore once again as the Asian Formula 3 Series 2003—sponsored by Pagcor, Department of Tourism, Philippine Tourism Authority, Oxyboo2st, Pepsi, Gatorade, Yokohama Tires, Denso and Regional Container Lines—flags off on May 10 and 11 at the Subic International Raceway inside the Subic Bay Freeport.
Touted as the region's premier motor racing event, the Asian Formula 3 Series—organized by the Asian Formula 3 Corp. (AF3) under the auspices of the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP)—will feature a six-leg, 12-race calendar that will held in Malaysia, Japan, Korea, China, with the opening leg set in the Philippines.
Tom Pastor, president of E Colby Ventures, Inc., Philippine promoter of the Asian Formula 3 Series 2003 stated during the official launch held at the Poolside of the Westin Philippine Plaza tonight said: "We are extremely proud that this prestigious event is pushing through despite the negative economic climate prevailing in Asia. We realize that the recent war in Iraq and the SARS epidemic that has hit the region are making it extremely difficult for both organizers and competitors to participate in the Series, but their presence here tonight is proof of their confidence and collective ability to prevail over all of this adversity."
Defending AF3 champion and Castrol Ambi Pur driver Mark Goddard of the United Kingdom, 2002 AF2000 champion Dennis Lian of Singapore, 2002 Asian Formula Renault titleholder Enzo Pastor of the Philippines and 2001 Philippine Formula 3 champion Jojo Silverio of the Philippines have all confirmed their participation in the opening leg.
During the launch, Goddard was presented with the AF3 Cup for winning the 2002 AF3 driver's championship. Pastor, meanwhile, received the FedEx Cup for being the first Filipino to win the Asian Formula Renault Series. Top Filipino AF3 driver for 2002 Richard Joson also got an award for his efforts finishing 5th overall. On hand to grace the occasion were Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, Senator Manuel Villar, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon, Pagcor chairman Efraim Genuino, Philippine Sports Commissioner Eric Buhain and Congresswoman Cynthia Villar.
Expected to lead the foreign challenge are Hong Kong's Marchy Lee, who won last year's leg in Sepang, as well as his Vertex Motorsports teammate and countryman Paul Chan. Driving the team's third car will be Taiwanese Jeffrey Lee. 2002 AF2000 champion Dennis Lian of Singapore has also signified his intention to participate under the Denso JF3 banner.
The Filipino contingent, meanwhile, will also feature Pepon Marave and Mike Potenciano of the Shell Fila Racing Team, Richard Joson of Denso JF3 Racing, Speedtech Asia's JP Tuason and Roland Hermoso.