Culture > Fast Lane

Philippines to be 1st Asian country to host FIA Sport Conference

Happening in June, the convention will discuss trends in motorsports

FIA Sport Conference project director Frederique Trouve flew in for the press event. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Are you a fan of Formula 1 or the World Rally Championship? Well, there’s a governing body that sanctions such racing events and ensures that every aspect of the races conforms to standards. That body is called the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, or FIA. Think of it as auto racing’s International Basketball Federation (FIBA). We’re only using the basketball analogy because our country is far more passionate about hoops than it is about wheels, and there’s a better chance readers will grasp the magnitude of the FIA’s role and relevance in the motoring community if they are shown the picture in basketball terms.

So, what about the FIA?

In order to perform its duties at a high level even as motor racing continues to evolve drastically with every passing year, the organization has been holding an annual sporting conference since 2013. The objective of this yearly gathering is to allow FIA members and global affiliates to discuss issues and trends that affect motorsports.

Here’s the best part: This year—on June 4-6, to be exact—the FIA Sport Conference will be staged in the Philippines. This makes the country the very first Asian nation to host the event. The first five countries to accommodate the convention are the UK (2013), Germany (2014), Mexico (2015), Italy (2016) and Switzerland (2017). That the FIA has chosen the Philippines to be the 2018 host is a testament to its “good relations” with Automobile Association Philippines, AAP president Gus Lagman told VISOR. The AAP is the FIA’s national sporting authority as well as mobility club in our republic.

Around 400 foreign individuals will come to the country for the conference. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

FIA Sport Conference project director Frederique Trouve was in the country on February 14 to personally hand over the appointment letter to Lagman, formally designating the Philippines as this year’s conference host. Department of Tourism official Allan Canizal attended the press conference to signify the DOT’s full support of the event, which is being projected to draw some 400 individuals, including around 250 FIA delegates.

Asked which motorsport discipline the 2018 conference will focus on, Trouve specifically mentioned electric cars, further underscoring the soaring popularity of EVs not just in everyday motoring but also in motor racing. The project director also cited drifting as a conference priority.

Petron will be the conference’s major sponsor, while BMW and Hyundai will serve as logistics partners.

Possibly swinging the FIA’s decision in our favor is the familiarity of FIA president (and former Scuderia Ferrari team principal) Jean Todt with certain Filipino personalities, including Lagman himself and Petron president and CEO Ramon S. Ang.

Todt had previously visited the Philippines to promote the FIA’s road safety campaign, and it was during one such trip that Lagman introduced the French motorsport executive to Ang. The pair immediately hit it off, according to Lagman, with Todt even checking out Ang’s car collection at the latter’s home in Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. It’s not difficult to imagine that Ang, an avid car and racing enthusiast, helped convince Todt to bring the FIA Sport Conference to Manila. Petron’s role as conference sponsor appears to validate this theory.

Conjectures aside, we welcome this development as an international event like the FIA Sport Conference will go a long way toward promoting the Philippines among tourists around the world. We wish this event nothing but success.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.