2014 Yokohama Phil. GT Champ Final

Amidst an unimpressive weather forecast of cloudy skies and a looming downpour, the event saw the come-back of Defending Champion Jodi Coseteng, who, in spite of his absence in some of the previous rounds, have made everyone stand in evasion, as he took the chickened flag for the GT300 class, finishing first in the morning’s final 10-lap Sprint Race and in the afternoon’s rain-soaked final GT Main Race. Although he did not managed to defend his title in the end, showing that “Never say die” attitude was more than enough for him to be of an inspiration to his fellow racers and to the championship Series’ legion of followers.

During the morning’s Petronas-presented qualifying round, Coseteng made a blistering effort to catch the first grid position, clocking in at 1:45.902, almost a full second ahead of this year’s GT300 champion Taysan Mayor Don Don Portugal in 2nd. Qualifying for the GT200 men weren’t as lucky. Joey Perry wasn’t able to do a qualifier, resulting to him starting the Sprint Race at the back of the grid, while an even more gut-wrenching situation came in Carlos Anton’s was, as his Honda Civic suffered a blown-engine. His team mechanics frantically made efforts to fix his racecar, but to no avail, costing him the Sprint race.

As tempers flared at the start of the Sprint Race, so did the drama, and at the centre of it all was GT300’s Velli-Matti Kaikkonen, who even before the race began, had his final race weekend collapsing before him, following his Hafele Mitsubishi Lancer Evo’s blown turbo. As the 10-lap Sprint Race saw green light, Coseteng charged ahead, widening his lead from start to finish, but it wasn’t a cruise, as he had to constantly keep an eye for the Don Don Portugal, who gave him tremendous pressure. Portugal finished 2nd, ahead of the actor Jomari Yllana in 3rd.

Ethanworx R33’s Paolo Mantolino crossed the line in 4th, awarding him with more than enough points to finally bag this year’s GT200 class title. All still went well for Joey Perry, who claimed the class 2nd place title, after a mid-race tire puncture.

This year’s GT150 champ Richmon De La Rosa never let up, as he dominated the morning’s Sprint Race, on-board his winning Honda Del Sol. Joel Portugal came close in 2nd place. While being able to finish the race, disqualification flagged Bong Perez and the new-comer Kang Jung Sung. Joel Portugal’s car failed to pass the compulsory dyno test, while in spite of an awesome performance; Sung and his Team GTR-Yllana Racing Hyundai Accent CRDi were not included in the final standings. In the GT100 class, Ivan Diaz won the Sprint race, ahead of this year’s class champion Edwin Rodriguez.

After lunch and some quick repairs and siestas, this season’s final GT Main Race went underway. As a final hurdle for the racers, the Main Race started under reversed-grid order, and right after green light, the morning’s weather forecast soon took effect, showering the venue with a torrent of rain and lining the racetrack with many tricky and slippery sections, thus adding that much of a challenge.

Right off the bat, Taysan Mayor Don Don Portugal accelerated for the lead, but was held back in very close proximity by Jodi Coseteng. Portugal’s lead defending prowess soon faded out in lap 5, allowing Coseteng to pass and pull away, leaving a tremendous trail of water spray until the final wave of the chickened flag, with stopwatches displaying a stunning 19.753 gap ahead of Portugal. Crossing the line in 3rd and 4th places were Jomari Yllana and Willie Torres.

The afternoon race saw GT200’s Paolo Mantolino doing 100% maximum attack under the rain, while Joey Perry did not even had the chance to start the race. Brimming with determination, Mantolino kept himself within the race leader’s laps, until the end.

Moving down to the GT150 class, Joel Portugal took the race win, ahead of Richmon De La Rosa in 2nd and Bong Perez in 3rd, while this year’s GT100 class champion Edwin Rodriguez took his Mazda Philippine sponsored Mazda2 across the line in 1st place for the final time, enthusiastically high-fiving everyone, including the car, as he parked it to a holt, following a well-fought rain battle, and a well-deserved class victory.

The 2014 Philminiracers Championship also made its season-ender, with Carlos Castaneda claiming 1st place overall in the series’ final 7-lap race. Borgy Zoleta came in 2nd, while Rodney Caballero took it home in 3rd. It was a double-celebration for Castaneds, as he also won the VW KaFER Cup’s final race, ahead of Dannie Rei Daquigan and Francis Villafranca in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Lastly, Don Andaya bagged 1st place in the Sparko Bracket Circuit Racing Series, with a paper-thin 0.274 lead against 2nd placer NR Joaquin. Al Lacambra took 3rd, in what was an equally exciting race.

This year 2014 saw tons of action-packed battles fought, lost, and won on the fast lane. And indeed, this year’s Yokohama Philippine GT Championship proved to be one of the most thrilling, exciting, and inspiring chapters in the country’s continuously evolving motorsports history. At this rate of exhilaration, it can only be up to the wild guesses of each and every one of us on how the next year’s season will unfold. See you around, and remember that racing is only for the racetrack, and driving safely on the road should remain paramount.

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