YZ RACING with BMW Team Studie take GT4 spoils
BINGO Racing, Shinji Takei and Akira Iida have scored their maiden Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS victories in the first of this weekend’s two races at Fuji where Corvette and Callaway Competition also made a little bit of history…
The C7 GT3-R beat 39 other entries to claim its first-ever victory in any SRO Motorsports Group-organised series. Not since the penultimate round of 2010’s FIA GT3 Championship at Portimao had any Corvette – in this case a Z06R – won an SRO race.
GT4 victory went to YZ RACING with BMW Team Studie’s Masaki Kano and Manabu Orido whose M4 also started from pole.
Back at the front, Iida took the chequered flag 2.5s clear of Alessio Picariello who relieved Dennis Olsen of second place at the start of the final lap. It was the culmination of another impressive performance from the Belgian and his co-driver Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak who maintained their 100% podium record and extended their championship lead despite serving a Success Penalty for the second race running.
Picariello’s stint also featured an exciting tussle with Dennis Lind whose Climax Racing Mercedes-AMG remained side by side with the AAS Motorsport by Absolute Racing Porsche for three-quarters of the lap without ever making contact.
Olsen and his R&B Racing co-driver Lu Wei completed the overall podium.
RUMBLING CORVETTE SCORES LONG AWAITED WIN
The fan favourite C7 GT3-R has won races and championships elsewhere but seldom competed in an SRO environment, let alone tasted success there. That all changed this afternoon at Fuji where BINGO, Takei and Iida were well worth their victory against world-class opposition.
Takei was the fastest Bronze-graded driver in qualifying but was elevated to the front row after R&B’s #87 Porsche, which should have started on pole courtesy of Leo Ye Hongli, had its five-place grid penalty applied from Buriram.
But while new pole man Ling Kang retained his lead into Turn 1, Takei dropped back behind the fast-starting Anthony Liu and Ye whose sixth place effectively became fifth when The Spirit of FFF Racing Lamborghini was forced to withdraw with a clutch issue. The 911 then picked up another two places into the first corner before hassling Liu for the remainder of the lap.
The race was neutralised soon after when Absolute Racing’s #992 Porsche spun, became stranded and was collected by CREF’s McLaren.
Racing resumed with 48 minutes remaining. Ye was desperate to clear Liu and set off after Phantom Pro’s Audi but struggled to work an opening while Craft-Bamboo’s Mercedes-AMG benefitted from the toe ahead. Indeed, it wasn’t until that was broken that R&B’s 911 managed to slip past around the outside at Turn 3.
By then the pit window was just three minutes away. And when it opened, the majority of the Pro-Am teams stopped at the first opportunity to install their faster drivers. Phantom Pro and R&B elected to keep Ling and Ye out, and their chances of retaining the lead began to fade when fresh rubber fitted to cars further down the order allowed the undercut to take effect.
It was this and Craft-Bamboo’s maximum 15-second Success Penalty that moved BINGO into the lead after the driver changes.
Newly installed Iida enjoyed a reasonable advantage to begin with but might have faced a tough challenge were it not for D’station’s one-second stop-go penalty that ended Tomonobu Fujii’s charge. The Aston Martin ran sixth throughout the opening stint in Satoshi Hoshino’s hands but came alive after the stops when his Pro passed several cars.
He was, however, also under pressure from Olsen when the car was penalised – a battle that allowed Iida to move more than five seconds clear at the head of the field.
Olsen also had the pace to put the Corvette under pressure but was prevented from doing so by Lind, the flying Picarrielo, Porsche Center Okazaki’s Yuta Kamimura and Dani Juncadella who was making up ground following Craft-Bamboo’s Success Penalty.
Picariello’s progress thereafter meant the battle for second prevented any of those potential contenders from challenging Iida.
Kamimura’s late drive-through for causing a collision elevated Juncadella to fifth behind Lind, while Mikkel Mac’s charge helped Phantom Pro’s other Audi to complete the top six ahead Triple Eight JMR’s Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Richie Stanaway, and the NK Racing Porsche (Kiyoshi Uchiyama/Tsubasa Kondo) that finished second to Takei/Iida in the Fanatec Japan Cup classification.
Climax Racing's Bian Ye and Hu Yuqi won the GT3 Am class.
Further back, Akiland Racing’s Toyota shared by Masayoshi Oyama and Ryohei Sakaguchi finished second in GT4 behind the winning BMW.
This weekend’s second 60-minute race goes green at 12:00 JST on Sunday.