The 2005 Philippine National Touring Car Championship series came to an end after 12 successful legs featuring non-stop racing action up to the last round. It was an astounding success featuring a more than 20-car combined line-up for both Group 1 and Group 3 divisions. Newcomer Race Fans Inc., who recently took charge of organizing the series, has truly made a mark in the local motorsport scene.
Veteran driver Jody Coseteng of Team San Miguel Corporation clinched his 8 th PNTCC Overall Championship crown with his latest win. Coseteng has won 8 out 9 PNTCC Championships in the history of the only National Touring Car series in the country. Shift Racing's Renan Morales on the other hand takes his first PNTCC Group 3 production class crown and will be moving up the ladder next year to challenge more seasoned drivers in the Group 1 division. Morales has only been racing for two years and will surely make more waves in the local motorsport scene.
In Group 1 qualifying, it was Jody Coseteng taking pole position with a 1m19.05s laptime. Carlos Anton of MP Turbo took second spot on the grid after officials split him and Kookie Ramirez of Petron-SRA who had both clocked a best time of 1m19.40s. Anton having a better 2nd best time of 1m19.73s was awarded the advantage as Ramirez settled for 3rd spot on the grid. In Group 3 qualifying, Renan Morales took pole with a 1m26.04s time ahead of Peewee Mendiola (Big Chill/Recaro/Clifford) and Uly Maninding.
Jody Coseteng took a virtually uninterrupted lights-to-flag win for the penultimate round of the championship series to secure his crown, where he only needed a point to seal. However, at the start, Carlos Anton and Kookie Ramirez figured in a collision as Anton tried to get the inside line and ending up on the pitwall as Ramirez managed to make some damage control over the situation. This prompted Clerk of Course Rolen Paulino to restart the race. Ramirez took the opportunity to dive into the pits to have his crew check on the damage, while Philip Alvendia of A3 Motorsports also did the same as he experienced engine trouble.
As the race restarted, Jody Coseteng darted away with a good margin as he had his mind set on winning the series in style. Kookie Ramirez tried to hold on, but was unfortunately slapped with a stop-and-go penalty for hitting the tire barriers on the chicane. Team manager Miguel Ramirez then advised him to just preserve the car for the next round as the gap between him and Coseteng was too far to catch. This opened the door wide open for Velocity Motors/H&R/Race Fans driver Dennis Uy who took the immediate opportunity, but unfortunately lost it when he mistook the black and white warning flag as a stop-and-go penalty flag handing over second place to Louis Ramirez on a silver platter.
In round 11 of the Group 3 division, it was Shift Racing's Renan Morales taking the victory not without a challenge from newcomer Uly Maninding of Explorer Motorworks who even clocked a quicker laptime than Morales. Going out of turn one, Maninding successfully defended his position from Peewee Mendiola (Big Chill/Recaro/Clifford) to close in on race leader Morales. Mendiola fell back a place when he figured in a slight collision with Tok Corpuz on the second lap as Miguel Lazaro slipped through. Mendiola eventually got his position back and settled for third as he was kept busy trying to fend off Lazaro of Velocity Motors/H&R/Race Fans. Petron-SRA's Menchie Francisco ended her race early retiring with a flat tire midway through the race.
The start of the final round of Group 1 was relatively a clean start compared to the previous round. The focus was on the dueling brothers Kookie and Louis Ramirez who made a couple of position exchanges within the race. But an apparent lights-to-flag victory for Jody Coseteng slipped from his hands as he took a detour on the last chicane on the 7th lap. This immediately dropped him down the order to 4th behind Carlos Anton. "I came in at the wrong angle and just tried to avoid damaging the car since it was a non-bearing race already," said Coseteng.
Coseteng eventually overtook Anton and advanced to second as well when Kookie Ramirez was slapped with a stop-and-go penalty once more for hitting chicane tire barriers. Kookie Ramirez rejoined the race and eventually retired due to technical problems. Coseteng was however unable to recover first position from Louis Ramirez despite having cut down the margin. Philip Alvendia ended his season with a bang as his engine blew towards the end of the race as he simple limped to the checkered flag to finish the race in 5th.
In the final round of Group 3, it was again Renan Morales who dominated the race trouble free with some serious racing action going on as Peewee Mendiola was and neck and neck with Uly Maninding. The young Maninding however lost it going into the bus stop chicane as he got aggressive with Mendiola after passing the latter going into turn one. This gave Tok Corpus the opportunity to slide into an easy third position. All positions were held as a full course yellow flag was raised on the 10th lap and the safety car was sent out and stayed until the checkered flag.
The 2005 Philippine National Touring Car Championship is sanctioned by the governing Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) and sponsored by The Philippine Star, Bendix Brakes, Rota Wheels, Johnny Walker, Smirnoff Ice, A-toy body kits, Gadgets & C! Magazines, Home Radio 97.9, DWIZ 88.2, KTC Tools and Autoindustriya.com.