Limpag: Go, go, go!!! William Go!

Unlike Filipinos, Europeans are not familiar with the proper pronunciation of William John Riley Go’s family name, so it was amusing to hear excerpts of commentators using the Anglicized version.

It was the prodigious karter’s press con and sendoff, and the event started, clips of Go’s historic 2022 season were being played, and while the commentators meant William Go, hearing them mispronounce his name makes you see William go.

Written at the back of his tracksuit, his name also serves as one-word instruction to drivers behind him, William amusingly shared, “Your name serves as a motivator for us. Because all we see is Go!”

Go etched his name in Philippine karting history by becoming the first Filipino World Champion when he won the ROK Superfinal in Lonato, Italy last October. I wrote about that feat, but it was only last Jan. 5 that I truly understand how remarkable it was.

Jess Garcia, the first Cebuano to win a national title in Karting, said the event gathered national champions from all over the world.

“I also competed in Lonato but I was never fast enough to be in front,” he said, adding that the margin among the top drivers is so small.”

In the first of the 20-lap final, Go was in third place but by the second lap, he was second. He stayed in that position until the 16th, sometimes getting as close as 0.2 seconds behind Ianniello Riccardo. For reference, throw a coin about three feet into the air; the time it takes for the coin to land back in your palm is about 0.5 seconds, about twice the margin between Riccardo and Go.

Garcia said Go was just biding his time, doing some test overtakes before making his move in the 16th lap. By the 16th, Go was front, 0.4 ahead of Riccardo, before increasing the gap to 0.6 in the final two laps. Based on the detail online summary, Go registered his best time and fastest speed in the 15th lap at 18.897 and 100kph, when he made the move against the leader.

From the 10th to the 15th, he was registering sub-19 times, which Edgen Dy-Liacco, Go’s first coach, explained as race craft, one that made Go excel from the bullies who menaced him when he was starting.

“It’s not just about lap times. It’s about how he manages his race,” Liacco, himself a gifted driver, answered when asked what makes William unique.

Bong Boado, a photographer who witnessed those times William was bullied in the grid called the Cebuano an amazing driver and after seeing William win his first international race recalled the Cebuano saying of his bullies, “I’m going to demolish them.”

He did even if, according to Liacco, they basically stopped racing and just tried to block William from winning. He later said that he called his counterpart on the other team, to tell them what they did was wrong.

Rising above his bullies made William what he is. His motto “Will to win,” etched at the back of his helmet played out in the 15th lap when he zoomed past his rival to take the lead.

And Go isn’t done. This year, he’s joining the OK division where as a 14-year-old, he’d be competing against 18-year-olds who all have the same mindset as him.