By all accounts, Rhowell “Bornok” Mangosong is a champion motorcycle racer. The 25-year-old father of three has won numerous local peewee, motocross and supercross races and has tried his hand in road races onboard “underbone” motorbikes. Born in Asingan, Pangasinan but currently based in Davao, Bornok is also a freestyle rider, one of the few Filipinos who can do motorcycle backflips and other superman motorcycle stunts.
After winning the Visayas-Mindanao leg of the National Supermoto Race of Champions (ROC) held August 5-6, 2017 at the parking grounds of the Go Hotel and Robinsons Place in Dumaguete, Bornok wasn’t expecting what happened next. He was told by Shariffa “Shawie” Dizon, the organizer of the National Supermoto ROC, that he was going to Australia to represent the country in the 2017 Newcastle International Supermoto championship races.
Bornok was elated but worried. He didn’t have a passport because he hasn’t gone out of the country. Without a passport, he could not apply for an Australian visa. But worse of all, he doesn’t have a Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) racing license even though he has competed and won local races that were organized and sanctioned by the National Motorcycle Sports and Safety Association (NAMSSA),the former National Sports Association (NSA).
But he believed in the Philippine Authority for Motorcycle Sports and Safety (PAMSS), the new NSA that was accredited by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to replace NAMSSA. Shawie Dizon coordinated with Ruby Ann Kagaoan, the President of PAMSS, and the two ladies, with the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of Davao and William Herrera of Red Rock Travel, moved mountains to get Bornok his first passport and get him an Australian visa.
Elation and Frustration
Bornok was overjoyed during his first international travel, an 8-hour plane ride from Manila to Sydney onboard Cebu Pacific, and more so, when he stepped out into the cold Aussie autumn weather. He joined the Indonesian Supermoto racing team headed by Endiyatmo Widagdo on the 160-kilometer road trip from Sydney to Newcastle in a van driven by Greg Brown. He immediately became friends with the team, especially their Supermoto champion, 16-year-old Diva Ismayana.
Joy soon turned to frustration when Bornok was told that he cannot race without an FIM license. FIM Oceania follows the strict FIM International rules without exemption, even when there is a special situation between PAMSS, the PSC-accredited NSA and NAMSSA, the outgoing FIM-accredited sanctioning body. Apparently, NAMSSA dillydallied on Bornok’s request for the FIM-required Start-Release, which he coursed through PAMSS out of courtesy. Also, NAMSSA was supporting another rider competing in another Supermoto race. Politics once again reared its ugly head with our most capable athletes as collateral damage.
But Shawie Dizon and PAMSS never gave up and they worked with Graeme Boyd, the Newcastle International Supermoto organizer, Simon Maas, FIM Oceania board member, and Tom Williams of Motorcycle Australia (MA), who’s also the Clerk of Course in MotoGP and SBK races, to get Bornok a racing license. The last hurdle they went through was the rider’s insurance, which was required by the FIM for the racers’ protection. Thankfully, Martin Yuchioco of Malayan Insurance of the Philippines came to Bornok’s aid and all the requirements were fully met for the Filipino rider to race.
Unfortunately, the licensing and insurance process took longer than expected and Bornok missed practice and qualifying sessions. With only minutes to spare before Race 1 Saturday and without any seat time at all, he started from the back of the grid, and to make things even more difficult, he was racing against several of the world’s best riders like 3-time World Superbike (WSB) champion and MotoGP winner Troy Bayliss; American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) Supermoto champion Gage McAllister; 2016 Supermoto champion Andrew “Andy” McLeish; Victoria Supermoto champ Adam Miller; Spanish Supermoto champ Juan Carlos Lopez; New Zealand Supermoto champions Darryll King and Duncan Hart, and more.
Never Back Down
With a “Never Back Down” attitude, Bornok rode his best, climbed from 18th to 11th place, and was only 4.3 seconds per lap slower than McAllister who won Race 1. Despite not being attuned to the Yamaha YZF450 that was spec’d for Supermoto racing and provided by Graeme Boyd Motorcycles, he wowed the racers and spectators alike in Race 2 and Race 3 Sunday with his speed, mastery of the course, and high jumps. At the end of the races, he finished 15th overall despite being handicapped with no points for Race 1 because of his late license approval.
He was thankful for the experience and felt that he had already won simply by just being a participant. He also vowed to do better in the Indonesian International Supermoto that will be held on October 7-8, 2017 in Malang. “I have a lot to learn”, he humbly said. “I just started racing Supermoto in less than a month and I’m already racing with international superstars thanks to the people and sponsors who supported me like Total Hi-Perf motorcycle oil, Malayan Insurance, PAMSS, DC, Graeme Boyd Motorcycles, and MotorCycle Magazine. This is really an experience of a lifetime.”
With those words and a first taste of real world-class motorcycle racing, Bornok Mangosong has already proven that he is on his way to becoming a real world-class champion!