When racing passion and excellence runs in your blood and you grow up living and breathing in the racing scene, it is no surprise that you will also strive to make a name in the industry. This is the story of Troy Alberto, the third racer in the renowned Alberto family in Philippine racing.
Having a superbike and motocross luminary father and an older brother who is highly skilled and passionate of the sport greatly influenced Troy to also venture into two-wheel racing. Starting at a young age in motocross racing with his father Toti and brother TJ, Troy basically grew up racing. Time flew so fast and at the present day, 17-year-old Troy has already raced in the MotoIR Championship, Philippine Superbike Championships and is currently carrying the Philippine flag in the Asia Talent Cup and Thai Talent Cup as he races for Honda Philippines. While many may perceive that he is lucky to be able to experience the international stage which is the dream of many riders, it is no secret that Troy works hard to be where he is right now. The Alberto’s are known for their racing discipline, passion and skills and Troy inherited his father and brother’s dedication and determination. Troy talks about his beginnings, his experience in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup, competing with top riders in Asia in a high level competition, his race bike and his mindset as another Alberto who is taking the Filipino flag in the international racing scene.
Maximum TORQUE: How did you start? When did you start riding motorcycles?
Troy Alberto: “I started riding motorcycles at the age of four. It was my Dad who first influenced me to ride motorcycles. At first it was just doing figure 8’s in a flat track on a motocross bike. Then at the age of 6 I started really getting into racing motocross. I started racing motocross at 6 and then I carried that all the way to 2015 when I started road racing. My first season in road racing was in the MotoIR2 Championship on a Honda CBR150 and at the end of the year I was champion in my first year. After that I went to the Philippine Superbike Championships in 2016 and found success again becoming the Novice and Intermediate champion. In 2017, I was again at the Philippine Superbike Championships in the Expert class and in that same year I joined the Asia Talent Cup Selection event. I was selected as a rider for the Asia Talent Cup 2018 season. This year I’m racing in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup for Honda Philippines and so far I’ve been getting great results in both series and making progress race by race.”
Maximum TORQUE: How did you get interested in racing? Did you think that you will also get into the field? Have you ever thought that you will race like your Dad?
Troy Alberto: “I got into racing through my Dad because he is a competitive rider in the Philippine Championship as well as in the Asian Championship in his earlier years in his career. He was really the one who taught me how to ride and how to race and he pushed me to develop my skills as a rider. At first I really didn’t think much about racing. I did it just for fun because my Dad was guiding me through it and through his guidance and him pushing me to become a better rider I found that I have the talent and the skill for this career and I wanted to pursue it.”
Maximum TORQUE: Can you share your experience in your first season in the MotoIR and what you learned from it? What do you think about the MotoIR Championship?
Troy Alberto:“My first season in MotoIR2 which was my first time joining a road racing championship is a new experience for me. At first coming into it, I really did not know what to expect as my whole life I’ve been racing motocross up to that point. So when I got into the MotoIR Championship, I was surprised to find really competitive opponents and really fast riders, something that I wasn’t used to in my time racing motocross and that really made me push myself as a rider and hone my technique and find faster lap times every day. Eventually, I became champion in that category and I’m really happy that I joined the MotoIR Championship as I think without using that as my platform, I wouldn’t be where I am today in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup.”
Maximum TORQUE: How about your PSBK experience? What bike did you ride and what are your memorable moments in the championship?
Troy Alberto: “Coming from the MotoIR Championship to the Philippine Superbike Championship is a big step for me. In the MotoIR Championship, I was on a small 150cc motorcycle and then I was into a superbike which is over 1000cc. At first, I felt
that I would be struggling as I was only 15 years old at that time and I really didn’t have so much strength to handle the power of a 1000cc motorcycle. But in my first two years riding, I was able to become a better rider and I learned to control the bike. One of my most memorable experiences riding in the Philippine Superbike Championships was in my first year in the third round where I led 8 of the 10 laps of the race. At that time, I was only a few months into riding a superbike and I was really surprised that I had the capability at that class.”
Maximum TORQUE: How was your experience in the Asia Talent Cup Selection?
Troy Alberto: “The Asia Talent Cup Selection was really tough at first. I first joined it in 2015 coming from the MotoIR Championship. I had a really tough time. I found myself riding against fast and young Malaysians, Japanese, Thais and Indonesians. I really found it surprising how fast and how quick they were in riding their bikes. It was difficult for me at first. In my first year, I wasn’t able to get selected in the Asia Talent Cup season the following year. In my second time in 2016 I found it equally difficult as well as we were on the same bike, a Honda underbone bike. I found it difficult to be able to match my opponents and
how they were able to ride their bikes and again I wasn’t able to join the season and be selected. Finally in my third year in the Selection Event, on a CBR250 this time as they changed the bike for the Selection, I found good confidence with the bike and I was really able to push myself. I found myself equal and sometimes faster than my opponents. I was really confident and that day I was able to be selected for the 2018 season. This year I’m riding in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup. Supporting me through this experience are Honda Philippines, my parents, Access Plus and Italtrans. So far, it’s not been the easiest experience making the progress and growing as a rider and really developing my talent in these series.”
Maximum TORQUE: Describe your race bike. How was it compared to race bikes you’ve ridden before?
Troy Alberto: “The bike that I’m racing this season in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup is a Honda NSF250R. It’s different from all of the bikes I’ve ridden previously as this is a race-bred machine. The bikes that I’ve ridden previously were all street bikes that have been turned into race machines. This bike is really made to be pushed at the maximum level of racing. It was
difficult for me to ride at first because you have to really be at the limit to make the bike go as fast as it can be but I was able to become better on the bike. The bike that I use weighs a little bit over 80 kilos with an output of nearly 50 horsepower. It’s a very small bike so it was difficult for me to adjust at first coz I am a tall rider and I was used to riding bigger bikes. The tires that I’m using in the series are slicks that are made by Dunlop. The brakes are really strong as they are made for racing by Nissin. It is a difficult bike to adjust to at first because it is more extreme than bikes that most people use in terms of the size of it, the grip of it and the way that the bike handles the power delivery in the exits of corners, but it is an exciting bike to ride. For me, it’s a fun experience so far. The maximum speed that I’ve achieved with this bike so far is 210 kilometers per hour which I had at the Buriram International Circuit in the Asia Talent Cup race that we had there. It’s quite fast especially considering how small the bike is.”
Maximum TORQUE: Your challenges regarding your competitors in the series? What are your disadvantages and where do you focus to compensate for these?
Troy Alberto: “One of the main challenges that I found when I went to the Asia Talent Cup Test was first of all, my size compared to the other riders. Most of them are much shorter than I am and some are even thinner than I am so they have the advantage of being light riders. Weight of the rider is especially important in a small motorcycle such as this as it doesn’t have so much power compared to a superbike that can carry the weight of the rider well. The weight was an important factor that I found to be at a disadvantage at when I first rode the bike. Another challenge that I encountered was that it was really my first time riding with more than 20 riders that are at the same speed or even faster than I am. Usually in the Philippine Championship, I found myself riding with maybe 2 to 4 guys who are as fast as the pace that I’m going. To find myself riding with more than 20 guys that are going all out and as fast as I can go, it was a unique experience.”
Maximum TORQUE: Tell us about the Asia Talent Cup Test and your first two rounds.
Troy Alberto: “The first test I had with this bike was the Asia Talent Cup Test in the middle of February. It was my first time really riding with my soon to be opponents for the 2018 season. One of the main challenges that I found there was the pace that the riders were going. I realized that I was having difficulty compared to the other riders as majority of them have ridden the machine before especially the sophomore riders who have been in the Asia Talent Cup for over two years. They were really fast at the beginning of the Test and I found it difficult to get faster lap times at first. Throughout the test I was able to improve the setup of the bike as well as adapt my riding style to the bike. I finished 11th out of 24 in that Test. I believe I had a good pace coming in the first round in the Asia Talent Cup held in Qatar. The first round coincided with the MotoGP race that time. On the first day, Friday, I had a good feeling with the bike. I was within the top 10 in the first session. As the other riders went faster, I found myself being within 14th to 15th position at the end of the first day which wasn’t so bad. I had a good feeling with the bike and I can go faster. On Saturday it was qualifying and then Race 1 and we saw that the conditions changed a lot as the wind picked up and got really strong. There were massive headwinds in the front straight and it really affected how the bikes performed in braking as well as cornering as the wind was pushing the bike out once in the corner. I struggled with this windy condition. I qualified only 19th in the race but I was still able to pick up some points later in the day when I finished 15th out of 20 riders. On Sunday, for Race 2, I had a good feeling as the wind died down a little bit and I was battling for points positions again early in the race but unfortunately in Lap 4, I had a high side crash and I wasn’t able to continue that race.”
“My ultimate goal is to become a World Champion in the MotoGP Championship. It’s a long way to go but I believe I have a good platform so far in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup. Hopefully in a few years I will be able to achieve my goals and be a World Championship rider.”
Maximum TORQUE: Your thoughts about racing in an event which coincides with MotoGP on the same weekend?
Troy Alberto: “Being in that MotoGP weekend was a surreal experience for me. It is something that I’ve always dreamt about as a kid – being in the MotoGP paddock. I remember walking in my paddock and seeing the MotoGP teams and riders out talking. It was an experience for me as I’ve never really been that up close with MotoGP machines, MotoGP bikes as well as the whole MotoGP grid. It’s an experience for sure seeing how organized they are and how they perform not only on track but also off track in their paddocks. It’s something that I’ve always dreamt about and I was happy to be able to live that dream in that race weekend. One thing to note about Qatar and that race weekend was that it was especially hot compared to other times I’ve raced in the Philippines as well as in Malaysia. It’s a desert country so when I was there I found that the condition wasn’t so good at first as the sand from the desert would be brought out to the track and will make it slippery in the first few sessions and the heat will bring the worst out of the tires.”
Maximum TORQUE: How about Round 2 of the Asia Talent Cup?
Troy Alberto: “Round 2 was a week after Qatar in Thailand this time coinciding with the World Superbike race being held there. I found myself to be at a disadvantage straight away with the way that the track was laid out as it was mainly long straights connected by really short corners which really brought out my disadvantage of being one of the heavier and taller riders in the grid. I found myself on the back foot starting Friday. I didn’t have a good qualifying position on Saturday. I qualified 19th out of 20 riders. In Race 1, I struggled but I was able to salvage a few positions and finished 16th out of 20 in that r ace. Race 2 was a really tight race in the front group and I was able to take advantage of a few crashes in that group and I was able to finish 13th out of 20 riders. Overall, I really struggled in that weekend first of all with the way the track was laid out and also the heat which was physically demanding for all of the riders. I know I needed to find a way to make myself more competitive.”
Maximum TORQUE: Why did you decide to also compete in the Thailand Talent Cup? Who are supporting you and how is the Thailand Talent Cup compared to the Asia Talent Cup?
Troy Alberto:“The reason why I joined the Thailand Talent Cup was Honda Philippines, my main sponsor, felt that it would help me for the next races in the Asia Talent Cup as the bikes that we use for the Thailand Talent Cup are extremely similar with the bikes we are using in the Asia Talent Cup. It’s the same base bike which is a Honda NSF250R except it only lacks a few minor components such as the exhaust and the brakes we use in the Asia Talent Cup. But overall it’s mostly a similar feeling bike. I felt that with this bike I’d really be able to improve my skill on the Honda as well as I will be able to have better results in the Asia Talent Cup after practicing in the Thailand Talent Cup. The people supporting are the same people that supported me in my career in the Asia Talent Cup – Honda Philippines, my parents, Access Plus and Italtrans.”
Maximum TORQUE: How was your first two rounds in the Thailand Talent Cup?
Troy Alberto: “Race 1 of the Thailand Talent Cup was held in Thailand Circuit. In this weekend it was the first time I could meet the opponents that I was going to face in the race as well as familiarize myself with the bike that we will be using for the next seven rounds of the series. I found that the competition at the Thailand Talent Cup was equally competitive as the Asia Talent Cup. There were many riders there who were equally fast and good and are equally competitive as the grid of the Asia Talent Cup. That made it difficult for me because I have to ride with strong and quick riders and be able to go fast the entire race but it also meant that it would be good practice for me as the riders I will be facing will be tough competition and it will be the same that I could expect in the Asia Talent Cup. The first round that we had at Thailand Circuit was interesting as the tracks that I rode using the NSF250R were all wide and big tracks, mainly international circuits such as Qatar and Sepang. The Thailand Circuit track was much smaller, it was similar to a kart track, only a little bit wider in the corners so it was a unique experience trying to handle the power of the bike especially through the tight exits out to the corners. I found myself qualifying in 4th position for that race which is good as it was my highest qualifying so far in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup. In Race 1, I made an error in the first few laps and crashed on the second lap of the race, but I’m still able to recover positions and finished in 10th position. In Race 2, I had a much better start in the race. I was third in the first lap of the race. I lost a few positions in the first two laps but I’m still able to finish 4th overall. Round 2 was in Buriram, Thailand which I was confident entering as it was a track I have previously experienced the Asia Talent Cup. In practice, I was confident. I was in 3rd position after some sessions. In qualifying, I was 4th. I was expecting that I could be able to get a good result and hopefully a podium. In Race 1, I was battling with the front group throughout the whole race. We were a group of 5 and I was constantly battling for the podium positions and even for the lead at some points. Entering the last lap, I found myself in second position but after a few close calls with my competitors and almost making contact in some corners I fell back to fifth position. I was still happy with the result coz I only finished less than 3 seconds off the leader and was really battling until the last moments of the race. Race 2 was a much different affair as I had brake problems in the warm up lap of that race. In the first few laps I took it a little bit easier as I was still seeing if the brakes will function properly. In the first few laps I fell back to 6th or 7th position. At this point the top three had took off and the best possible result that I could achieve was 4th and after battling with a group of up to 7, I was able to make a gap in the last lap. I was in 4th position and had a gap of half a second over the line. I was able to comfortably take that fourth position. I was happy with that result as I came off on top of a large pack of riders.”
Maximum TORQUE: Message to your fans and supporters.
Troy Alberto:“I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has been supporting me so far throughout my season in the Asia Talent Cup and Thai Talent Cup. I hope that you will continue supporting me throughout these races and I believe that with your help I could be achieving more results in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup. I hope that I will be able to score podiums and hopefully win races.”
Maximum TORQUE: What is your ultimate goal? Is there any pressure as you are the third racer in your family?
Troy Alberto: “My father had a very successful career and in the Philippines he is one of the most influential persons in the sport even up to now. My brother is racing in Europe in the Superstock
Championship. He is making waves in that series. There’s a lot of pressure on me of course as they’ve had great careers. They have been great support and help to me throughout my whole career as a racer and I believe that thanks to them I can achieve bigger and greater things in our sport. My ultimate goal is to become a World Champion in the MotoGP Championship. It’s a long way to go but I believe I have a good platform so far in the Asia Talent Cup and Thailand Talent Cup. Hopefully in a few years I will be able to achieve my goals and be a World Championship rider.”
After this interview Troy then raced in the Asia Talent Cup at the end of July in Sepang, Malaysia. The next race was in Thailand in September when he remarkably finished insecond place and got on the podium, his first podium finish in the series. After that was in Motegi in Japan and the last round was in Sepang again. The last three rounds were held together with MotoGP races. Troy is 17 years old and has graduated from Xavier High School last March. He is now a college student at the De La Salle University in Taft. For Troy, it’s been difficult so far to be a racer and a student and to balance his career in racing especially as he goes farther and farther from the Philippines in the Asian Championship, but he knows that it is important for him to continue his schooling as it will help him in the future not only as a rider but as a person in the realm of the World Championships. With many years ahead of him, Troy indeed will experience more and achieve more in his racing career. He is not just taking the footsteps of his father and brother; he is making a name for himself. He has his own style, his own character and he is indeed a pride of the Philippines.
*This article was published in InsideRACING’s Volume16 Number 10 2018 issue.