Justinne Bethany Tolentino now feels like she’s a six-footer. Although in reality she stands only five-feet flat, she is ecstatic because of a big accomplishment. This 18-year-old resident of Cainta, Rizal is the first overall champion of the first all-female race of the Yamaha Grand Prix. This crown will be etched in the history of Philippine motorsports. Justinne emerged victorious over 10 other female riders who slugged it out during the final leg of the 2018 Yamaha Grand Prix One Make Race held at the Palawan International Circuit in Puerto Princesa City over the weekend.
Now on its ninth season, this year's four-leg race event includes other categories like the YGP Dealers Cup (Expert and Intermediate), Sniper 150 One Make Race, Fun Race AT, Fun Race underbone, and YGP 150 Open underbone. Justinne took the checkered flag with a big gap over her fellow competitors in Heat 1. Not content, she still wanted a bigger lead in Heat 2. “Tinanong ko ang teammates ko kung ano ang mga ginagawa kong mali noon Race 1. Kinorek ko ‘yun nun Race 2,” says the freshman dentistry student. True enough, Justinne took a solo flight to the finish line on her second run. We watched her attack the corners on a Yamaha Mio showing consistency and finesse. Aside from her teammates, her family was very supportive of her motorcycle racing. Especially her father, Allan Tolentino, who happens to be a former underbone racer.
At first, however, it was a different story with her mom. “Nag-freak out siya nang malaman niyang kakarera ako! Mabuti na lang nakumbinsi rin naming later on,” Justinne related. She has been riding for the past 10 years and because of her extraordinary skills on two wheels, she now lives up to the monicker ‘The Dentist’ in the motorcycle racing circle. Let’s see what MotoGP icon Valentino Rossi a.k.a 'The Doctor' thinks about this. With everyone now paddling in the same direction, Justinne looks forward to a brighter future in the racing scene.
Aside from bringing home the overall championship trophy and cash prize, she will be racing for the first time internationally. She will be the first Filipino to join a Yamaha racing event that also has an all-female category in Taiwan next month. Here’s her advice to the ladies out there who have second thoughts about riding: “’Wag po kayong matakot. You need to conquer your fear for you to discover more of your talents.”
Ladies, what are you waiting for? It’s time to race!