Hot on the heels of a successful 2004 Ford Lynx Cup (FLC), Tuason Racing School (TRS) recently gave a rousing kickoff party for FLC 2005. Held at the hip Embassy Club within The Fort in Taguig City, the launch featured the drivers who will be competing in the FLC's Advance Series and all of the programs of the TRS.

Now on its third year, the FLC will see many exciting changes (with focus on safety) that will make the competition closer and more exciting. This year, all of the drivers' helmets will be fitted with radio transceivers that will put them in constant communication with race officials and the pits. Federation Internationale l'Automobile (FIA)-approved seats will also be the norm this year.

The FLC was conceived by TRS president and racing champion Jean Pierre "JP" Tuason as a way to develop racing talent by pitting drivers against each other in identically prepared touring cars. According to Mr. Tuason, "The reliability and evenly matched power of the Ford Lynxes means that the drivers can only rely on their skills and ability. The one-make format also ensures that competing in the Ford Lynx Cup is one of the most cost effective ways to go racing."

Just like last year, two series will be run. The first is the Advance Series, which is open to drivers who have spent time in automobile racing. The second is the Novice Series, which is restricted to drivers who have never competed in automobile racing.

This year's list of competitors contains a balance of youth, experience, beauty and machismo, with new and familiar faces thrown into the mix. Seeing action in the Advance Series are Asian karting queen Michelle Bumgarner and brother Mark Bumgarner, comebacking pretty speedster Pia Boren, Ford Lynx Cup veteran Matt Montoya, perennial dark horse Edgar "Eggay" Quesada, former press undersecretary turned race driver Mike Toledo and former jet ski champion John Marcelo. Debuting in the Novice Series are 2004 karter of the year Matteo Guidicelli, Ken Boren, Norman Agojo, Jiffy Chua and Camille Anton.

The races in the Advance Series will be held on June 4-5 and July 9-10 at the Batangas Racing Circuit and August 13-14 at the Subic International Raceway. On the other hand, the Novice Series will run on September 24-25 and October 1-2 at Batangas Racing Circuit and November 26-27 at Subic International Race Way.

Driver profiles

With the first leg of the Ford Lynx Cup's (FLC's) 2005's Advance Series set on the first weekend of June, one may wonder as to who are the people behind the names of 2005 FLC's Advance Series participants. The following is a guide to the people who are about to make a name for themselves in FLC Advance Series 2005.

Pia Boren

Returning after a one-year hiatus, Pia Boren finished fourth in the 2003 Ford Lynx Cup, wherein she was awarded the Fastest Lady Driver of the season.

Racing has always been a major part of this motoring journalist and television host, who writes for Top Gear Magazine and has appeared on numerous occasions on Studio 23. Her four years of racing has seen her take part in the C! Rallye Experience, wherein she clocked the fastest time of the day in the women's division and placed sixth overall out of 48 competitors. She also saw action in the 2004 Formula Toyota Series where she also finished fourth and in the 2002 Arthur Tuason Memorial Cup (ATMC) where she qualified on pole position, finished first in all three heats against 24 male karters, and emerged as champion of the novice division.

Dubbed as the "Pretty Speedster" by the press, joined the 2005 Ford Lynx Cup because "it allows you to race at a reasonable cost and enjoy good competition." She expects her second season to be fun and, at the same time, stressful because she has to push herself to new limits. "My fellow drivers won't give me any quarters, so I will have to do the same," said the "Pretty Speedster".

Pia has plans to do touring cars, as well as rallying and drag racing in the future.

John Marcelo

Genes do play a role in producing race drivers. Proof of this is 33-year-old John Marcelo, son of 70s formula car racing star Eddie Marcelo and younger brother of the late Formula Atlantic champion and Indycar driver Jovy Marcelo.

John has been driving for 15 years and spent eight years competing in Jet Skis, where he was Philippine national champion for three years and competed in the 1998 World Championship where he was ranked number seven.

He has also driven in Rally Subic 2004 and he is trying his hand this year in Asian Formula Three and Rotax Max F125 karting.

John says he joined the series to get more track time experience and to keep himself in contact with racing in general in order to prepare for his possible participation in international Formula Three and the Asian Porsche Carrera Cup.

Eggay Quesada

Reprising his role as Dark Horse of the Ford Lynx Cup is Edgar "Eggay" Quesada, who finished third in the 2003 and 2004 editions of the Ford Lynx Cup learned enough to never underestimate one's opponent. A 28-year-old happily married sportsman he who enjoys traveling with his family, golfing and riding out of town on his Vespa scooter and believes in driving smoothly. He also advises wannabes to get proper racing education and stop racing on the streets.

"Driving in the Ford Lynx Cup has improved my driving skills and technical knowledge of a race car, which is very important if you want to do well in racing. The TRS is the first ever formal racing school in the country that I know of and it should be the first step for anyone who wants to race," said Quesada.

Mark Bumgarner

Just like many teenagers, 14-year old Mark Bumgarner has a dream - a dream of becoming the best Formula 1 driver in the world. What makes Mark different from other teenagers is that he is turning his dream into a reality.

Mark is the youngest driver in the field and is also an avid and multi-titled karter. In 2004, he finished third in the Ford Lynx Novice Series where he displayed exceptional maturity and consistency. "I had a lot of fun in the Ford Lynx Cup. It was my first time to race a real car, so it was a very great exciting experience," recalled Bumgarner.

Before going into cars, however, Mark thinks that rookies should try karting on rental tracks and ask for more information. "Attending racing school like the TRS is also a good idea. I learned a lot on my first two days like downshifting, which gear to use on each corner, blipping the throttle and all the other basics," he says.

Mark is also into tennis, badminton, swimming, jet skiing, table tennis, RC cars and collecting F1 caps. He believes that confidence, focus, concentration and sportsmanship are important in all kinds of sport, most especially in motor racing.

Matt Montoya

Cool and fast, Those are words that are best used to describe Matt Montoya.

Matt is a mainstay of the Ford Lynx Cup for the third year straight year is a self-proclaimed philosopher of speed who teaches that "Life is short, so race while you can" and subscribes to a motto of "live for today". He races in the Ford Lynx Cup because "it's a feel good, all natural fun" and the FLC has taught him to be practical, patient and a more confident person.

Matt hosts Studio 23's Stoplight TV and is a former radio DJ for Magic 89.9 and RX93.1 and is Toyz for the Boyz's (a car magazine) classic car columnist. "I enjoy the speed thrill. Winning is not important. It's the drive that's gives me the natural high!" says Montoya.

Matt's ultimate goal is to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the Le Mans Classic.

Mike Toledo

Former newscaster and press undersecretary Mike Toledo, 40, will return to his second season in the Ford Lynx Cup after participating in last year's Novice Series.

The fit and trim Mike, who enjoys golf, horseback riding, scuba diving, badminton and practical shooting, was lured into the sport by the excitement and challenge of it all. "I have always admired all those who against all the odds achieve their goals, conquer their fears and provide visions," says Toledo.

2004 proved to be his baptism of fire as he boldly competed in his first ever touring car race, wherein the opposition was fierce and unyielding. "It's hard to fail but it's worse not to try," said Toledo.

Ivan Carapiet

One of the rising stars in the Philippine racing landscape is Ivan Carapiet. The son of former racing enthusiast Aram Carapiet and nephew of 80s motor racing luminary Macky Carapiet is racking up wins in every series that he has joined.

Ivan, who is only into his third year of racing, is the 2003 Formula SI Karting Champion, the 2004 Formula Toyota Champion (the youngest to win the title) and the 2004 Golden Wheel Awardee for his tenacious but calculated performance in the Formula Toyota Series.

The tall and gentlemanly Ivan, who is a renowned lady charmer on and off the track, has also dabbled into rally cross but finds racing on asphalt more to his liking. He is eyeing a future stint in Formula Three. "I've always wanted to race cars. I expect a good fight from my fellow competitors and I'm not taking anyone for granted," said the 19-year-old.

Michelle Marie Bumgarner

Michelle Bumgarner is known to many as the Asian Karting Queen and is one of the most closely watched drivers in the local racing scene, not only because of her sterling achievements on the track but also because of her comely looks and radiant personality.

Michelle, whose credits include the title of 2003 Asian Karting Champion and runner-up in the 2004 Formula Toyota Series, wants to make it to F1 one day.

As seen in her long list of credentials she has lots of concentration, physical strength, confidence and consistency—assets that are put to good use when she "beats the boys" on a regular basis.

Michelle advises newbies to start in karts if they are young and to work their way through the ladder. She also thinks that the TRS has been doing a really good job of training new drivers and increasing the numbers in the country.

F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen is the idol of this sweet and swift 16-year-old who also likes badminton, water sports and hanging around in the malls.