10 November 2015

Kaikkonen takes double victories at the 2015 Yokohama Philippine GT finale

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Clark International Speedway, Philippines (11 November 2015) – Despite missing out on most of the 2015 season, Veli-Matti Kaikkonen made a strong comeback for the sixth and final round of the Yokohama Philippine GT Championship. The veteran drove the Team Häfele Mitsubishi Evolution VIII to the front of the pack, dominating both the Sprint and GT Races last November 8 at the Clark International Speedway, Pampanga.

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Sponsored by Yokohama Tire Sales Philippines, Inc., the race weekend once again featured a 13 car grid. Paolo Matolino from the R33 Ethanworx Racing Team decided to sit this one out after an engine failure in round 5 threw out his chances at the GT 200 title. Filling his spot on the grid was Kaikkonen in GT 300.

The morning's 9-lap Sprint race saw Kaikkonen start from pole position. He then put in consistently fast laps to break away from the rest of the field. By the time the chequered flag came out, the Finnish driver built a 46.778 sec lead from fellow GT 300 driver Willie Torres in the W-Autosport Evolution VIII.

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Meanwhile, it was a lonely race for Richmon Dela Rosa in the Honda Civic Del Sol GT 200 whose blistering place allowed him casually take 1st place in class. Following behind was Mohspeed's Bong Perez in 2nd and Water Zamora in 3rd.

Likewise, Richmon's younger brother Patrichk claimed top spot in GT 150 with his Honda Civic EK. NR Joaquin cruised to a comfortable 2nd place, while Dindo De Jesus found himself in the gravel, ending his race after only 2 laps.

Ivan Diaz continued his winning streak in GT 100, taking 1st place with his Mohspeed Honda Civic EG. In 2nd and 3rd places were his teammates Rhaffy Latorre and Joginder “King” Sin.

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After a short break, the afternoon's 15-lap GT Race was greeted by a huge incident on the very first lap involving several drivers. Bong Perez in the gold-liveried Honda Civic FD was hit from behind by Walter Zamora as they headed up turn 1 spending Perez into a spin. This caused a chain reaction that caught out an unsuspecting NR Joaquin and Dindo De Jesus. Both drivers tried to evade, but inadvertently crashed heavily into Perez. Luckily, all 3 drivers escaped serious injury while Walter Zamora would later be excluded from the final standings.

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With all the chaos happening behind him, Kaikkonen simply focused on leading the race and left all the other cars in his wake. Such was his speed that by the time the chequered flag came out, he was able to lap all the oher drivers up to 3rd place. His best lap of 2:09.703 was also several tenths quicker than his qualifying time. But that didn't matter to Willie Torres who finished 2nd in GT 300 as he already earned enough points this season to take the class championship.

Patrick Dela Rosa claimed 1st place in GT 200 to secure titles as the class champion and the Automobile Association Philippines' (AAP) Driver of the Year. His younger brother, Patrichk also won in GT 150 to secure the class tite.

Finally, Ivan Diaz concluded his perfect season winning all of this year's races to be crowned GT 100 champion. Finishing in 2nd is his teammate Joginder “King” Sin followed by Edwin Rodriguez in the Mazda 2 Skyactiv race car in 3rd. However, Rodriguez was later disqualified after failing the post-race dyno test, handing the last spot of the podium to Rhaffy Latorre.

As for the support races, Staging Lanes' Eduardo Suiza finished 1st in the Sparco Cup Bracket Race. In 2nd and 3rd were JCT Blanche teammates Nino Garcia and Carlo Baguisa, respectively. The Grid Race, on the other hand, was dominated by JCT Blanche drivers Baguisa and Sydney Sarmiento. Suiza would finish in 3rd.
The Philminiracers Classic Mini Cup final was won by Rodney Caballero with Jason Choachuy in 2nd and Borgy Zoleta in 3rd. Dexter Daquigan once again crossed the line in 1st place for the Classic Aspirated Cup, followed by Fil Gulfin and Raffy Locson in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.

The 2015 Yokohama Philippine GT Championship is sanctioned by the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) and sponsored by Yokohama Tires Sales Philippines, Inc., Sparco, and Aguila Auto Glass with Speedlab as the official pace car dyno provider.