Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted August 12, 2002 00:00
Coseteng Takes 2002 PNTCC Crown
It was 'back to normal' as quoted from a veteran race driver. Jody Coseteng of Team Caltex/Autoplus/Red Horse swept the 9th and 10th rounds of the Philippine National Touring Car Championship Series at the Batangas Racing Circuit after a disappointing performance in rounds 5&6. With the two wins adding up to his points in the standings, Coseteng is the default winner of the series making him series champion. Coseteng also leads in points in the Blaze Super Saloon Series in Subic.
A disastrous weekend for Team Tom's as they suffered mishaps to both their cars during the weekend. Jojo Silverio's car caught fire as an oil leak touched the exhaust manifold in Friday practice. "I was surprised when Jojo's (Silverio) car didn't go around and then I saw smoke coming out of the hood. I took the truck and quickly ran in with a fire extinguisher," said Francisco Blanco of Team Autoplus, one of the first respondents to the accident. Silverio's engine was replaced with a spare engine to run in the Saturday qualifying session and Sunday raceday.
Vincent Floriendo on the other hand, crashed on Saturday practice as he lost traction with his tires on the rained out track. His car skidded to the runoff and flipped to the marshal station. Luckily the marshals got away quickly and no one was hurt. Floirendo himself wasn't hurt. Team Tom's worked double-time to put the Floirendo's car together for the race.
Starting from pole, Coseteng blasted all the way through turn one ahead of Jojo Silverio of Team Tom's, Silverio's teammate Vincent Floirendo followed in third ahead of Caltex/Auto Trend's Nilo Pazcoguin. Coseteng managed to maintain his lead throughout the race. It was not an easy race for him as Silverio stayed close behind.
Floirendo on the other hand drove flawlessly in 3rd position as Pazcoguin followed behind. It would be evident that Pazcoguin would close in on the corners, but the acceleration-biased setup of Floriendo's car would leave him as they exited the turns. "I really had a hard time keeping with up Enteng (Floirendo), he would really have the advantage on the straights, said Pazcoguin. Floirendo continued to pull away from Pazcoguin to secure himself of a third place finish.
Meanwhile in front of the grid, Coseteng further extended his lead over Silverio to safely secure himself of the checkered flag. Coseteng finished with a time of 49:44.546 leading by 5.203 seconds and set the fastest laptime of 1:49.714 in lap 8.
By noontime, the skies opened and a massive downpour literally flooded the whole track. Organizers declared a delay for the afternoon rounds. And so the rains stopped for a while, just enough for the 10th round of the PNTCC.
As the warm-up lap started, Jody Coseteng led the way through to turn one when a sudden splash of water from the inch-deep stream entering turn one prompted race officials to again delay the race to wait for the water from the stream to subside.
Race Steward Jun Espino pointed out that the stream of water could be dangerous for the racers. "We have decided to delay the race for the safety of the racers," said Espino.
Tension broke loose once again as the green light was about to go on, Nilo Pazcoguin's car was not able to start. The Autoplus crew scrambled into the grid area to push the car away to safety and into the pit area as directed by the race steward Gabby Intengan. Amidst the pre-race drama, Pazcoguin's got his car to start just about the same time the cars left the starting line. "A fuel pump fuse problem was the cause," said Raymond Go, Team Autoplus.
It was Coseteng ahead of the rest as the green light went on. Due to better rain tires, and superb wet weather driving, he was able to muster up a big margin early on in the race. Silverio was left with no choice but to watch Coseteng's rear end as the race went on, with his car running on intermediate dry tires. Floirendo likewise suffered the same traction problem.
Nilo Pazcoguin having to start from the pitlane quickly mustered up an offensive. Pazcoguin unfortunately had a few close encounters and spinouts, a close encounter with John Sambos car in lap 1 exiting the R-bend. Pazcoguin was able to close in on Floirendo on lap 4. Floriendo unfortunately ran into problems and had to retire. An impressive drive for Pazcoguin moving from last to 3rd in just a matter of 4 laps.
Coseteng continued to pull ahead of Silvero, finishing 16.904 seconds ahead. He finished with a time of 49:44.546 and set the fastest laptime of 1:58.741 in the 5th lap. Teammate Pazcoguin finished in far third 50.763 seconds away.