Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted April 13, 2005 11:00
Pastor and Coseteng split 2005 PNTCC opener
The inaugural race for the 2005 Philippine National Touring Car Championship (PNTCC) Series under new series promoter Race Fans Incorporated which had 24 cars on the grid, the biggest by far for touring cars in the circuit.
In qualifying, it was Enzo Pastor who set the blistering pole time of 1:52.782s setting an initial touring car lap record for the track, which would eventually be broken by Coseteng in the second race. Jody Coseteng settled for the second grid spot with a 1:53.001s laptime. It was the Ramirez borthers Kookie and Louis in the second row respectively. In the Group 3 division, Renan Morales topped the Qualifying Time Trials with a 2m01.257s ahead of Peewee Mendiola's 2m02.821s. Miguel Lazaro and Dominic Tan settled in the next row.
At the start for the morning race, the skies opened and drizzled the track making it a wet and exciting race. As the lights turned green, it was Jody Coseteng who had a good start pulling ahead of polesitter Enzo Pastor into the first corner who fell down to third position. But the relentless Pastor managed to inch way back up into contention corner by corner until he finally manages to take back the lead from Coseteng at the Casino Filipino double apex. The young Pastor managed to pull away from Coseteng as the cars behind them battled all the way.
By lap 5, the leaders would get behind the backmarkers, Coseteng being a more seasoned driver took advantage of the opportunity with his better traffic management skills and managed to regain the lead. On the next lap, the hard charging Pastor would get close enough on the R-bend eventually getting into contact with Coseteng causing the latter to temporarily lose traction as Pastor retakes the lead. The controversial incident would later be contested with the stewards.
It was a hard fought race for Monching Guitierez and Jonathan Buxton who were neck and neck with merely one hundreths of a second separating the two. It wasn't that much of a good race for some drivers, Buddy Rutledge, Epoy Molina and Louis Ramirez were still trying to sort out their cars in the race settling down in the bottom of the order. Philip Alvendia dropped down the order towards the end of the race due to gearbox problems but was managed to nurse his car to the finish line in 6th. Coseteng tried to catch up driving his car to the limit, but did not have enough laps to do so, it was a close race as Pastor finish merely 0.772 seconds ahead of Coseteng. Petron SRA's Kookie Ramirez rounded up the podium finishers in third place.
In the Group 3 Division, it was Renan Morales battling it all the way against Peewee Mendiola as Miguel Lazaro was left fuming with fuel tank problems. Dominic Tan settled in an easy third overall with Lazaro out of the picture. Lory Uy did not have much luck as she retired after 2 laps.
In the afternoon race, it was sunny skies start as the green lights went on, it was again San Miguel driver Jody Coseteng taking the lead into the first corner. But the young Pastor did not wait until the final moment to make his move. Going into the third corner Pastor dived in to take the lead away from Coseteng. But it wasn't only Pastor that he had to worry about, as Kookie Ramirez was right behind his tail literally breathing down his neck.
Coseteng's driving really showed that the race was far from over as he set the fastest laptime on the third lap at 1:52.463 and eventually getting the lead back as Pastor drops down the order to 5th. The tenacious Kookie Ramirez was still right behind Coseteng pressuring him at every moment he could. But Coseteng would later manage to get a comfortable lead. An exciting duel was happening behind them as Petron SRA's Louis Ramirez and A3 Motorsports driver Philip Alvendia were gutting it out for third place.
It was eventually Alvendia who would get ahead. But Louis Ramirez not wanting to give up that quick relentless held on a chase and gave Alvendia a run for his money. Meanwhile, Velocity Motors' Dennis Uy slowly climbed up the order after a bad start, eventually inching up to get ahead of Monching Gutierez and Jonathan Buxton. On lap 6, Enzo Pastor dropped out of the race due to gearbox problems.
In the end, it was Jody Coseteng who would take home the victory followed by Kookie Ramirez in second as Philip Alvendia clinches third with Louis Ramirez hot on his tail six-tenths of a second behind.
In the Group 3 Division, it was Miguel Lazaro managing a good start to get ahead of arch rival Renan Morales as Peewee Mendiola tries to recover from a fumbled start losing valuable places. But Mendiola would manage to get ahead of the pack and get behind the leaders.
But it wasn't the end of the story for Lazaro and Morales as the two continued to battle on for the whole race with the two literally side by side and having a friendly exchange of paint after the exit of the third corner in lap 6. Morales would eventually get the upper hand as Lazaro slides down behind Mendiola. Lazaro would eventually get ahead of Mendiola but would not be able to retake the lead from Morales who was really closing all the possible doors until the checkered flag with almost half a second dividing the two.
The end result was Renan Morales in first, Miguel Lazaro in second as Peewee Mendiola finishes in the final podium spot.