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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Revving the Engine of Motorsports

Tadahito “Dashi” Devosora Watanabe, the Philippines’s lone representative in the 2012 Asia Road Racing Championships (ARRC), seeks to spur the growth of motorsports in the country. According to him, there are many young Filipino motorcycle enthusiasts seeking an opportunity to race for the country.


Dashi Watanabe gears up for a turn in this photo taken during the 4th round of the 2012 ARRC at the Autopolis International Race Course in Hita, Japan. Dashi dreams of creating his own racing team to help younger Filipinos who like racing, and to help the local racing industry bloom.

Dubbed as the Philippine Azkals of the racing industry, Dashi’s team, Team Suzuki Pilipinas, represents the country in international competitions. Similar to how the Azkals encourage Filipinos to play football, Team Suzuki Pilipinas also gives the younger Filipino racers a chance to race for the country.

The 2012 Asia Road Racing Championships

Dashi races for Team Suzuki Pilipinas in the SuperSports 600cc category in the ARRC. Though not his first international event, Dashi still adjusted to the new experience, “Nanibago lang talaga ako sa team and sa mga kalaban”.

Team Suzuki Pilipinas started racing in the ARRC in 2011. This year, the team invited Dashi to race for them. Now, he has gone through the first four rounds of the ARRC. He noted that every round, the team continues on improving.

Dashi finished 13th out of 19 in the first round in Malaysia. Then he finished 19th and 17th in the second and third rounds in Indonesia and in China, respectively. Just last September 9, Dashi posted his best record so far in the series by finishing 13th out of 23 racers in the fourth round in Japan.

Dashi hopes that his performance continues to improve in the last two rounds. Right now, his goal is to get a championship for the country.

Learning from experience

Before his impressive finish in the second race in Japan, Dashi recalls the mistake he made in the first race of the fourth round.

After racing for the 9th place in the first lap, Dashi slipped and crashed, causing the officials to raise the red flag to signal the stop of the race. According to him, he slipped because he became too aggressive and pushed the tires to their limit. He recalls that the race was stopped because many racers got involved. “Hindi ako nakatayo kaagad nang 5 minutes ata yun.”

He was rushed to a nearby medical clinic by an ambulance after he got up. The accident caused a minor injury in his backside, which he endured even in the second race, along with what he learned from his mistake.

Dashi also remembers those times when he used to race in the Underbone category. He said that unlike the underbone bikes he used in his past national races, the GSX-R 600 he is using now has more power. “Iba yung power niya kesa dun sa underbone na karaniwang nakikita sa streets.” According to him, his bike can travel up to 280kph in the racetrack.

His experience with the motorcycles completely upped another level when he transferred from the Underbone category to the SuperSports category.

Beyond the racetracks

When there are no scheduled races, Dashi spends his time doing his hobbies—or training, actually. His training activities include working out, jogging, trail biking, and boxing. Dashi said that right now, his lifestyle primarily revolves around his racing career. He does these training routines to keep his body in shape.

Just like other teens his age, Dashi also logs on the Internet whenever he has free time. He said that he often uses the Internet for social networking sites, and not for gaming. His Facebook and Twitter accounts are his means of updating his supporters and fans of his personal activities and the races of Team Suzuki Pilipinas.

Before suiting up with Team Suzuki Pilipinas for the 2012 ARRC, Dashi was a freshman college student from the University of the East in Caloocan. He said that after the 2012 series, he intends to re-enroll in the university and continue pursuing his degree.

Chasing the dream

Dashi mentioned that he envisions that the time will come when he can finally qualify for the prestigious MotoGP. As it is the world’s premier motorcycle championship, Dashi is not even thinking about winning yet. “Kahit makasali lang,” he quips.

His career goal for now is to get an international racing championship for the Philippines. According to him, all the team needs now is more experience. He said that some of the other racers had experienced MotoGP, and that what makes them wiser.

He also expressed his desires to help the younger Filipinos who like racing. Young as he is at 18, Dashi has motivated himself to become better so that he could help the younger generation of racers in the future.

The fact that he himself has not experienced enough races, Dashi got the idea of creating his own team. He said he wanted to create this racing team “para sa mga batang gusto rin ng racing, para din sa racing industry”.

While Dashi is on his way up the international rankings in the motorcycle racing industry, he will definitely be the new face of motorsports in the Philippines. From a protégé to a rising racing star, Dashi Watanabe got the country running on track towards becoming a motorsports nation.

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