Iñigo Anton is the first Filipino to compete in the Olympic Esports Week for Motorsports, and he tells The GAME what virtual racing is like.
Filipino racecar driver Iñigo Anton loves being behind a steering wheel, whether he’s sweating it out on a hot day at the track or he’s in his room sitting in his simulator. Racing runs deep in his veins, coming from a family of racers and having been comfortable with gas pedals and brakes long before he could even get a driver’s license.
And his passion for the sports shows in all the racing disciplines he competes in — and he competes a lot, spending nearly every weekend on a different track.
The GAME got the chance to sit down with the young racing phenom a few months after his cover story was released to catch up on all the action he’s recently been getting up to. And not only has he been doing what he does best, but he has also been testing out new waters.
What’s Iñigo been up to on track?
Since Iñigo Anton last sat down with The GAME in January 2023, a lot has gone down. He became a Philippine Autocross Champion in his first race of the year; he competed in his first-ever rally race; he was named Driver of the Year in Circuit Racing by the Automobile Association of the Philippines; he joined the Vios Spring Cup Malaysia; and, he is currently leading the Formula V1 Championship. And each competition differs from the next in terms of the cars, tracks, and regulations.
“The season just started but it’s already been incredible with lots of nice experiences,” Iñigo expressed.
As we said — he competes a lot. But one of Iñigo’s biggest strengths is that he is able to adjust from one racing discipline to another with relative ease, whether he is going from dirt racing to time trials, or making any other transition.
“Over my 10 years of racing, I’ve really been into a lot of different types of motorsports,” he explained. “So I’ve been running through time trials, to rallies, to autocross, and other cars, so I really had a mix of everything.”
This is how he is able to compete every weekend, taking on different kinds of cars on different kinds of tracks and race formats. And while this seems like an intimidating commitment to take on, Iñigo emphasizes that it’s just a matter of practice and gaining the right amount of experience to develop confidence in the car.
“It’s all about learning how to adapt and overcome the differences in the car.”
Given all the different disciplines Iñigo has been pushed to master, he sees Gymkhana (a motorsport category similar to Autocross where the goal is to achieve the quickest time on a track) as his biggest strength.
“Gymkhana is a good foundation for any type of motorsport,” he explained. “I would say this is why I’m good at circuit races — it’s because I’ve learned how to manage the technical parts of the track.”
And his skills truly show. Iñigo is an expert when he gets behind the wheel of a car, and even with his extensive experience, he is still always finding new things to learn at every corner.
But, it isn’t just on the physical race tracks where Iñigo Anton thrives. On top of this, he is also highly experienced and competitive in the world of simulation racing. In fact, he just became the first Filipino to compete in the Olympic Esports Week for Motorsports, representing the Philippines.
What is Olympics Esports Week?
The Olympic Esports Week is currently underway, and if you’ve never heard of it before, that’s because this is the first of its kind.
Olympic Esports Week marks a new chapter in the world of virtual sports. Taking place in Singapore, this tournament is an international virtual sports competition, where the best esports athletes from all over the world who compete in all kinds of disciplines will be battling it out.
And representing the Philippines in the Motor Sports category is Iñigo Anton.
“Everybody dreams at one point in their life when they’re a kid to become an Olympian and to represent their country, and now given to compete in what I love to do…it’s really just an honor,” Iñigo expressed.
Even despite his talent and skill, Iñigo also admitted that he was surprised to get this opportunity to compete in the Olympic Esports Week in the first place. Seeing that the competition open was for Gran Turismo 7, one of the most popular racing games, he explained that this was a discipline that he is not particularly used to, and thus, he had to train hard to qualify.
Going up against the many other Filipino sim racers for the slot, Iñigo expressed it best, saying, “At the end of the day, I was able to snatch the best time and be sent here.”
Having successfully qualified for the first Olympic Esports Week for Gran Turismo 7, Iñigo raced against the other 31 competitors. And out of 32 racers vying for the title in this brand new stage of racing, only 12 of them would be able to compete in the final 42-lap race for the championship.
Iñigo was one of the 12. After finishing 11th in the qualifiers, the Philippines was one of the remaining countries on the stage of the finals.
And the competition was fierce, as Iñigo had expected. He struggled with his tire strategy in the final race, and was unable to reach a podium finish. However, the young Filipino racer expressed that simply qualifying for the Olympics was a dream come true, let alone making it to the finals, and he took every step of the way of this new experience with eyes wide open, ready to learn. Because even though Iñigo is indeed a proven racer on the track, virtual racing is an entirely different playing field.
What is virtual racing really like?
Contrary to what one might believe about sim racing, Iñigo explained that virtual competitions can actually be a lot more cutthroat because of their accessibility.
When racing actual cars on actual tracks, it may be easy to forget that this entails a big budget — for engineers, tires, and track time, among many other variables. In contrast, for virtual racing, all one really needs at the very least is a simulator, a game to play, and the time to play.
In fact, because of how accessible and competitive virtual racing is, it is the discipline that Iñigo finds to be the most challenging.
“I’ve experienced racing against many other people and even international racers, but one thing I noticed that really tests the limits of your skills is the simulator. That’s the nice thing about this. Everybody has enough time and money to be able to practice as much as they want, so of course, the skill level will keep rising.
“It’s always the fine margins that separate you from winning and losing in the simulator.”
With this, Iñigo has been putting in the hours to really prepare to face the stiff competition that can be expected in Olympic Esports Week in Singapore, training up to four hours a day, working with his coaches and teammates, and plotting out race strategies.
“I always treat it as a real race, and I just try to put in as much time as I can before going into a race. I would say this is one of the biggest competitions I’ve ever had, even compared to real-life races that I’ve done.”
The rise of virtual racing, as well as this inaugural Olympic Esports Week, shows that the limits of sports and racing have not yet been solidified, and perhaps they never will be, as it they continue to evolve and grow. And this is why for Iñigo, it is important to always keep an open mind and to never stop learning.
What fuels Iñigo?
Of course, his passion for racing is one of the biggest tools that Iñigo Anton uses to aim for success in everything that he does. But on top of this, one thing that is truly admirable about this young Filipino racer is his hunger to learn from everyone who supports him.
Iñigo is fortunate to have an incredible support system behind him in all the racing he wants to pursue. His parents are a huge source of inspiration to him, and along with them, he also has his many sponsors, his teams, and his mentors. Thus, even in an individual sport, Iñigo never falls short of crediting teamwork to his success.
“Teamwork is really important to achieve your goals and be open-minded to what everybody has to say. Everybody has their own experiences and sometimes those experiences can also help you in the future.”
One incredible source of expertise that Iñigo can rely on is former Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong, as the Filipino represents his team, Axle Motorsports.
“I just feel like I hit the gold mine with all the information that I get from him. So of course, I really take it seriously and every time we always have our practice session with our sim racing team, gathering all the information I could is what’s most important because he’s achieved so much in Motorsports,” he shared.
And now, as Iñigo has just successfully conquered a new chapter in his racing career in the first-ever Olympic Esports Week, he certainly took every moment on the virtual track as a learning experience. And, at only 18 years old, there is still definitely a lot more racing in his future, both virtual and on-track.
“Even though I’ve had 10 years, I’ve been racing for 10 years, there’s still so much more for me to learn. I haven’t learned completely everything. So it’s always just about the learning experience. And, I’m very blessed.”
Images from Iñigo Anton and Karen Navarrete Anton.