Cebu Pacific (CEB) has joined the ranks of global brands as it enters the highly competitive world of motorsport. The Philippines’ leading airline and Asia’s third largest low-cost carrier is sponsoring young Irish karting champ –-now Formula BMW Pacific contender — Gary Thompson, as he sets out to conquer the region’s circuits.
“Cebu Pacific has been great,” shares Thompson. “They’ve been really supportive and I hope they keep expanding in the future to bigger things.”
The 17-year-old Dubliner has been called his country’s best bet in the Formula One calendar since Eddie Irvine drove for Ferrari in the 1990s, then Jaguar until 2002.
“Gary Thompson’s dedication to succeed in such a fast-paced and innovative arena is a trait we also share,” remarks Candice Iyog, CEB VP for marketing and distribution. “His instinct for winning will take him far, and we feel honored he chose CEB to help him get there.”
Thompson has been around fast cars since he was a toddler. His dad was also a racer, albeit “low-key” in Ireland, and introduced him to karting at an early age.
In the same way that champion drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button began their careers, he quickly mastered the sport and was soon competing around Europe. In 2004, he was named Irish International Kart Driver of the Year, an award he received again the following year.
This year, he is out of the karts and is pushing for leadership in Formula BMW Pacific, a major entry-level series to Formula One racing. Thompson is poised to achieve the feat on Asia’s best tracks, many of which are located in countries serviced by his airline sponsor.
In Sepang, Malaysia last April, he made an impressive debut by leading in the two opening rounds of the series.
“It was my first race in cars and I won so that has to be the best experience… I felt that everything we’ve been working on for the last eight years paid off. It was a big moment. John [O’Hara, his trainer] and I think and hope that in the future we can do it again,” he reveals.
Coming from the Singapore Grand Prix Season, he is currently second in the overall and rookie cup standings and is a favorite to win. The Cebu Pacific-supported driver will be competing in Macau late last year.
“Everything about it is a challenge, really. Everyone wants the same thing—to win and to move on. If you have so many people trying to do the same thing, it’s never easy. So you just have to push as hard as you can and do what you can to get there,” he adds.