Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted June 18, 2005 10:00
Pastor and Coseteng split wins once again
A total of 25 cars were on the field for the 2nd leg of the Philippine National Touring Car Championship at the Batangas Racing Circuit as sunny skies shined all through the race. Multi-titled touring car driver Jody Coseteng of Team San Miguel extended his lead in the PNTCC Group 1 finishing in the podium for both races in the third and fourth rounds, finshing second and first places respectively. Shift Racing's Renan Morales on the other hand, dominated the Group 3 production class sweeping both rounds.
In qualifying, it was Enzo Pastor who took pole position with a time of 1:52.760s. Taking second grid spot would be Kookie Ramirez of Petron SRA with a 1:53.254s. Jody Coseteng settled for the third grid spot with a 1:53.504s laptime sharing second row with Louis Ramirez. In the Group 3 division, Renan Morales set the pace with a 2m01.155s ahead of Miguel Lazaro who clocked in at 2:01.930s. Peewee Mendiola and Dominic Tan settled in the next row.
In the morning race, it was Enzo Pastor all the way with a big margin and just looked straight ahead while Jody Coseteng and Kookie Ramirez were busy battling it out behind him. It was more of a parade with wide gaps behind them as the race progressed. The order behind the top three was Philip Alvendia, Carlos Anton, Dennis Uy with at least 10 seconds separating each of them.
Struggling way back down the order were Epoy Molina and newcomer Ral Ariola who found himself in the Group 1 division as his car was not homologated for the Group 3 production class. Even seasoned drivers Louis Ramirez and Dominic Bon were plauged by dismal performances. But all in all, it was generally a peaceful morning race preparing for an action packed afternoon race.
In the Group 3 Division, it was Renan Morales with a lights to flag win with little pressure from Miguel Lazaro who was running with some car problems. Lazaro still managed to steer himself to a second place finish despite the problems. Bingo Valero finished for the last podium spot in third place. It was a nice battle between JP Carino and Menchie Francisco in the middle of the pack as the two finsihed just a little over a second apart.
In the afternoon race, it was San Miguel driver Jody Coseteng taking the lead into the first corner with a great start. Pastor literally kept the distance bumper to bumper with Coseteng managed to get the lead back. A few positions back, A3 Motorsports' Philip Alvendia worked extra hard getting it on early with Carlos Anton as they were separated only by a few inches. Alvendia went on to chase Louis Ramirez after dispatching Anton.
Kookie Ramirez realizing that it was better to just drive consistently in third position and stay close behind Coseteng was right all along. Midway through the race, as the leaders approached the back markers, the gaps closed down as they went through trafic. Fireworks were soon to be displayed as Coseteng prepared his attack on Pastor who was deemed to retaliate with everything but the kitchen sink.
As Coseteng managed to take the lead back from Pastor, a melee ensued. First casualty had to be Coseteng's rear bumper which finally decided to call it quits after a hard tag from Pastor. Battle continued as Pastor eventually managed to dive Coseteng at turn three, taking advantage of the traffic situation, the young driver tried to push the veteran to side approaching the exit making contact. Coseteng backed off as Pastor missed the exit and tractored his way through the grass. This allowed Coseteng to close the gap again and prepare for an overtaking move in Brian's corner. Pastor who tried to retake the lead found himself spinning in the grass as his rear end skid on to the ramble strip, losing all hopes to retake the lead. As Kookie Ramirez may have planned it, he slid up to second place with Pastor's minor lawn trip.
It was a well fought battle meanwhile for fourth and fifth places, as Alvendia manages to take the advantage from Louis Ramirez. But as disaster would strike, at the very last lap on the very last turn, Ramirez loses his brakes and tags Alvendia sending both cars to the grass. As Alvendia managed to recover, it was Anton advancing up to 4th while he had to settle for 5th.
In the Group 3 Division, the battle to watch was between Peewee Mendiola and Miguel Lazaro as leader Renan Morales was way ahead of the pack with a gap of more than 10 seconds. It was a very nice series of position exchanges by Mendiola and Lazaro all throughout the race, Mendiola later grabbed the advantage and held on until the checkered flag. The podium spots in the Group Divsion came out as Morales, Mendiola, and Lazaro respectively in first, second and third.
Watch out for the 5th and 6th rounds of the Philippine National Touring Car Championship at the Batangas Racing Circuit on November 6.