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Conquering the wheel and sport: Top off-road racer pays tribute to his first mentor

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Photo above shows (L-3) Noel Bartolome Jr. and Noel Bartolome Sr. on their way to the Land Cruiser Jamboree in Indonesia back in 2017.

Since its debut in 2011, the MAXXIS 4×4 Cup Philippines: Off-road Challenge has tested the skills and determination of thousands of Filipino motor sports athletes. Many of these athletes get their first taste of off-roading through their own parents, as was the case of one of the country’s top contenders, Noel G. Bartolome Jr.

One of the most active off-road athletes in the country today, Bartolome is a member of the Land Cruiser Club of the Philippines and is a regular in the MAXXIS 4×4 Cup winners’ podium. Just this April, he snagged the second place in the track B of the Lubao, Pampanga leg, conquering the course’s neck-high lahar pits. In 2018, Bartolome got the most podium places in the MAXXIS 4×4 Cup and won third place in the Overall Driver of the Year category.

Bartolome attributes all these achievements to the person who inspired him to conquer muddy terrains and unforgiving puddles, his father Noel Bartolome Sr., himself a decorated Filipino off-roader.

“I really owe it to my father for introducing me to this energy-filled and heart-pounding sport. Growing up, I saw how he enjoyed the sport and how he was really determined to excel and rule over the toughest off-road challenges. Right then, I knew I’d be joining him on the off-road tracks,” he shares.

A champion and his very own prodigy

Bartolome Sr. started joining the sport in the 1980s. Over the past three decades, he has won several local championships, which then sent him to international competitions such as the Malaysian Rainforest Challenge.

“Off-roading is almost like a family tradition for us. I saw the potential of my son so I made sure I play an active role in his entry into the exhilarating sport. Right from the very start, I told him that he must always focus on the track and tediously study the obstacles,” the senior Bartolome shares.

Bartolome Jr. started racing with his dad in 1996 at the very young age of eight. Since then, the two have competed with and against each other in different off-road challenges. In 2012, the off-road community lauded the then 25-year old Bartolome for conquering a tough off-road challenge in San Felipe, Zambales, which mercilessly stopped a huge number of participants, the older Bartolome included. There were also times when the off-road veteran and his prodigy became an unstoppable duo, interchangeably taking the navigator and driver roles.

Bartolome Jr. looks forward to sharing more tracks with his father, and now, his son – continuing the family lineage of champions.

Today, Bartolome Jr. is still considered as one of the top athletes in the MAXXIS 4×4 Cup Philippines: Off-road Challenge. The young Bartolome is eyeing a three-peat win in the challenge’s 8th leg to be held in Ormoc City on June 22 and 23, 2019.

The MAXXIS 4×4 Cup Philippines: Off-road Challenge is one of the longest and most extreme off-road races in the Philippines. It is a series of 13 4×4 race events held in different provinces all over the country. The race aims to promote off-roading as a motor sport and to bring together Philippine off-road enthusiasts toward creating a community for those who have the passion for off-road driving.


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