The San Mig Coffee-Petron Blaze-Philippine Touring Car Championship held its penultimate leg at the Batangas Racing Circuit on the weekend of October 21-22. Running together with the PTCC was the first ever Vintage Sports Car Race also sponsored by San Miguel. The Group 1 championship was more or less decided as brothers Kookie and Louis Ramirez were absent from this leg due to prior commitments. The main highlight was the PTCC Group 3 because the top five drivers are now tied up in a very close title chase, which meant fierce racing action.
In qualifying, San Mig Coffee Racing Team pilot Jody Coseteng set the pace for Group 1 with a laptime of 1m51.918s. Team TEC-Bio Activ's Don Pastor (who recently just recovered after being stricken with dengue fever just a few weeks prior) set a 1m53.178s but was later disqualified after being found to have a defective brake light and relegated to last. Dominic Bon was upgraded to second, followed by Philip Alvendia of Malayan Insurance-Rota-Motul-A3 Motorsports and Dennis Uy of Velocity Racing.
In Group 3, Matteo Guidicelli knocked on the door of Nico Montinola's production car lap record just five thousandth's of a second shy, setting a 2m0.038s best laptime. JP Carño of Intelco Racing figured in second with a 2m0.47s time, while Nico Montinola's 2m0.666 managed him a third grid spot. Following the trio were Explorer Motorworks' Uly Maningding, Team Velocity-Racefans' Francisco Blanco and Jeff Borja of Darkside Racing.
PTCC races at the Batangas Racing Circuit are run in a mixed grid format with Group 1 cars and Group 3 cars running all at the same time.
As the green lights went on for the first race, several drivers were slapped with a stop-go penalty for jump starts. These included polesitter Jody Coseteng, who lost his starting advantage and had to claw his way back up the order. Getting a good start, Pastor was able to get himself up to second along with Alvendia in third as both driver got ahead of Bon. They were all upgraded a position up when Coseteng drove in for his penalty. However it was not long before the veteran took over them one by one. Despite having built a marginal lead, the young Pastor was also overtaken by a determined Coseteng who was hell bent on securing the championship to add another title to his trophy case.
A disappointed Uy was the first casualty of the race as he would drop out of the race due to a broken driveshaft on the sixth lap. Alvendia who was running in third was later forced to retire due to a blown radiator hose, missing his podium opportunity. At the end, it was Coseteng taking the flag, Pastor five seconds behind, and Bon in far third.
In Group 3, polesitter Guidicelli pulled away ahead of the order as Montinola fell behind allowing four cars by. Early fireworks went on as an early contact between Blanco and Borja occurred at the exit of the first corner, sending Borja spinning to the tire barrier. The top three runners were Guidicelli, Cariño and Maningding, who ran a pretty relaxed race compared to Blanco and Montinola. A heated duel ensued between the two, but Blanco would foil every opportunity of Montinola's attempt to overtake despite being battered from behind heavily by Montinola's front bumper. The two were separated by less than half a second.
As the checkered flag dropped, it was Guidicelli well ahead of Cariño and Maningding. A very critical podium finish for Maningding as bolts past Blanco to the championship ladder but only by three points. Guidicelli's win ties gets him tied in fourth with Borja and three points behind Montinola, while Cariño is just three points shy of the fourth place tie.
The race started pretty smooth as the first lap went on really clean at the first corner with Coseteng pulling away ahead of the group to further secure his foothold of the championship. He was followed by Bon, Pastor and Alvendia, Pastor and Alvendia would eventually get ahead of Bon to go up to second and third respectively.
In Group 3, Cariño would bolt ahead of the Guidicelli with a better start as the latter had Montinola to fend off going into the first corner. But a more aggressive Guidicelli fights his way into the lead in the second lap. But this would not be the order as a series of spins and bumps jumbled the order with Montinola taking the advantage pulling away ahead.
However, going to the first corner of the sixth lap, extremely aggressive driving would take over as Borja and Cariño found themselves in a big accident sending both cars to the tire barrier with Cariño's car ending upside down on the grass after flipping over. The race was immediately red flagged and eventually cancelled as there was not enough time to clear the track and repair the tire barriers before nightfall. The extent of the impact caused Borja's wheel to break into two sending the wheel into the air, while Carino's wheel studs broke and also sent his wheel into the air.
The action moves back to the Subic International Raceway for the final rounds which will coincide with the Philippine Festival of Speed on November 25-26.