Cebu’s racing prodigy triumphs in Vios Cup debut
JOHN REY SAN DIEGO
The Manila Times
IN a remarkable ascent from go-karts to touring cars, 25-year-old Paolo Ayo etched his name in Philippine motorsport history by clinching his first-ever Vios Cup win at the recently concluded 2023 Vios Cup Circuit Championship. Piloting his way through the competitive Promotional Class, Ayo, based in Cebu, demonstrated exceptional potential, securing podium finishes early in his maiden full season in touring car racing. The culmination of his impressive debut season was marked by a sensational victory at the Clark International Speedway on Nov. 10-11, 2023, during the penultimate race of the championship. The Vios Cup, widely recognized as the most popular racing series in the country, attracts some of the Philippines’ most accomplished racing talents. Each participant vies for the top spot in their respective race classes, with seasoned racers often waiting years to ascend to the coveted podium. Ayo’s unprecedented triumph in his inaugural season adds an extraordinary chapter to his racing career. Fresh off his exhilarating Vios Cup victory, Ayo graciously shared insights into his winning performance. “It got crazy out there. What I did was break myself through and push on,” he said. His flawless qualifying time trial session positioned him as the class pole sitter for the pivotal Race 7. The race, conducted alongside the upper Sporting Class grid, presented challenges with multiple paint exchanges and contacts from other cars, demanding Ayo’s strategic prowess. “I have to take the cautious approach. I just observed what’s going on and see what’s gonna happen next. Being too cautious in a race usually does not result in something, but in this particular race, I’m really glad it did pay a lot to be careful,” Ayo said. A seasoned go-kart racer with a rich experience both locally and internationally, Ayo’s transition to touring cars was facilitated by the invaluable skills acquired in his karting years. When asked about the skills from karting that proved beneficial in the Vios Cup, he emphasized the universal importance of staying calm in races. Beyond the racetrack, Ayo, known as the Cebuano smooth operator, is also a chef by profession. Serving as the head chef at Paolo’s Cakes and Pastries in Cebu, his passion for racing eclipses his love for preparing delectable treats. Drawing parallels between racing and cooking, Ayo humorously cited “peer pressure” as a commonality, correlating food preparation with navigating the track with competitors on his tail. Ayo’s racecraft is further honed under the mentorship of veteran racing coach and driver Edgen Dy-Llacco of Edgesport Racing. Edgen called the 25-year-old racer a “racing machine” for flawlessly executing inputs discussed during practice sessions. Teaching Ayo, he affirmed, is the easiest task in the paddock during a Vios Cup weekend. In his Vios Cup journey, Ayo is not alone. The dynamic father-and-son racing duo, comprising Paolo and his father, Buggy, stands as a testament to familial support. Buggy, a constant presence in every practice and race, emphasized the importance of supporting one’s children in their passions, even in the face of financial challenges. “While we are actually looking for sponsors, when you see your kids happy doing what they love, for me, everything becomes easy for them. They can be more patient, they can be more loving, more caring, simply because they feel they are supported. They feel your love,” said Buggy. As Ayo concludes his first-ever season in the Vios Cup Circuit Championship with a commendable third-place overall finish in the Promotional Class, the Cebuano racer’s promise as a budding circuit sensation is undoubtedly solidified. Whether or not he ascends to the zenith of racing excellence, his family finds solace in witnessing his joy and fulfillment in pursuing his passion.