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Monday, June 16, 2014

Portugal Sets Pace at Leg 1 of 2014 Philippine GT Championship

A total of 17 drivers lined-up on the grid at the first leg of the 2014 Yokohama Philippine Grand Touring Car Championship. Held last June 1 at the Batangas Racing Circuit, competitors were divided into four classes based on horsepower, with 2 cars racing in GT 300, 4 in GT 200, 9 in GT 150, and 2 in GT 100.

GT 300 driver Dondon Portugal was the early pace-setter when he qualified on pole with his Mitsubishi Evolution. Behind him were a pack of GT 200 cars lead by Carlos Anton, Paolo Mantolino, and William Tan, followed by a mix of GT 150 and GT 100 cars.

The morning's 10-lap Sprint Race was action-packed from the word go. Aside from the usual dicing and door-to-door contact, there were some unwary drivers who went off course. William Tan became the race's first victim when his red Honda Civic overshot the chicane and got beached in the gravel. Dindo de Jesus would also fail to finish after suffering a broken rear suspension arm due to a contact with Walter Zamora. All three, however, were able to complete all necessary repairs to join the afternoon's GT Race.

Unfazed by all the drama happening behind them, the GT 200 drivers slugged it out for the lead. And after 10 laps, Carlos Anton was able to cross the line in 1st with a 1.373 second gap from Mantolino in 2nd and Pery in 3rd. Dondon Portugal cruised to the finish line to take 1st place in GT 300 and 4th overall.

In GT 150, 1st place went to Richmon dela Rosa, followed by Bong Perez in 2nd and Joel Portugal in 3rd. Edwin Rodriguez in the Mazda Philippines-sponsored Mazda 2 would then take 1st place in the GT 100 class, while Arvin Drueco crossed the line 2nd.

The afternoon's 17-lap GT Race was more of a test of endurance rather than outright speed. But with tensions running high, Jomari Yllana carelessly pushed Carlos Anton into a spin on the very first lap. An unexpecting Richmon dela Rosa then collided heavily with Anton, which brought out the red flag.

After the restart, Taysan Mayor Dondon Portugal held on to his lead and never looked back. He would then take the chequered flag 1st overall and in GT 300 with a comfortable lead with Yllana in the Hyundai Genesis Coupe taking 2nd place in class. Meanwhile, 2nd place was a fight between GT 200 drivers Tan, Pery, and Portugal. Sadly, Tan's Honda Civic would fail to finish and allowed Mantolino to take 2nd overall and 1st place in GT 200 with Pery taking 2nd in class.

Portugal finished 1st in GT 150, followed by Ed Anguluan in 2nd, and Raymond Ronquillo in 3rd, while Rodriguez once again taking 1st place in GT 100.

In the Philminiracers Championship, the race was won by Carlos Castaneda followed by Rodney Caballero in 2nd and Arvir Gervacio in 3rd. The VW KaFER Cup race would then go to Daniel Castaneda in 1st, while Raffy Lacson and Rudy Bunag crossed the line in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. As for the Winds Formula Philippines, 19-year-old Japanese driver Takashi Ito took the victory with a mere 0.743 sec lead from Sung Joon Park in 2nd and Jeremy San Diego in 3rd.

The second leg of the 2014 Philippine Grand Touring Car Championship will be held on July 26 to 27 at the Batangas Racing Circuit. The races are sanctioned by the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), presented by Petronas Energy Philippines, Inc. and sponsored by Yokohama Tires Sales Philippines, Inc.

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