D’station Racing’s Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii collected their first Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS victory in bizarre circumstances at Sportsland SUGO today after race-long leaders CarGuy Racing lost 22 seconds over the final two laps.
An issue with one of the Ferrari’s tyres forced Takeshi Kimura to back off, but he still had ample time to take the chequered flag first. However, he then misjudged where the finishing line was, which allowed both the rapidly advancing Aston Martin and Plus with BMW Team Studie M4 shared by Tomohide Yamaguchi and Seiji Ara to overtake metres before the end. Less than a second covered the trio.
The BMW was actually ahead of the Vantage as they exited the final corner but braked in response to the slowing Ferrari, which allowed Hoshino to go from third to first within sight of the chequered flag.
Losing those places also prevented Kimura and his co-driver Kei Cozzolino from wrapping up the Fanatec Japan Cup GT3 title with a round to spare. What’s more, #777’s crew now head to Okayama tied on points with Triple Eight JMR’s Nick Foster and Prince Jefri Ibrahim who dropped from fourth to 10th on the penultimate lap by spinning at the final corner.
Further back, Akiland Racing’s Masayuki Ueda and Masayoshi Oyama scored their maiden GT4 victory, while the latter also clinched the Fanatec Japan Cup Am class title. The Toyota GR Supra beat yesterday’s winners, GTO Racing Team’s Brian Lee and Hideto Yasuoka, while Team GMB’s Hiroaki Hatano and Shinya Hosokawa – who led before the pitstops – completed the podium.
SO CLOSE YET SO FAR FOR CARGUY
This was a race that CarGuy Racing really should have won despite the Ferrari serving a 10-second Success Penalty during its pitstop for finishing second yesterday.
Cozzolino, who started on pole, was exceptional in building a 22-second advantage over the chasing pack before Kimura climbed aboard. By the time he and the other Am drivers were up to speed, that gap had been reduced by only four seconds.
His pursuers therefore had little chance of catching the 488 and instead settled into a fantastic battle for second place. EBM Giga Racing’s Porsche driven by Reid Harker had relieved Seiji Ara of second just before the pitstops, while the D’station Aston Martin in Fujii’s hands also nipped past the BMW one lap before the trio pitted together.
The Porsche slipped backwards thereafter but the fight remained between three cars thanks to Foster who brought Triple Eight JMR’s Mercedes-AMG into contention before also stopping. That resulted in Ibrahim resuming in second place but only just ahead of the BMW now crewed by Yamasaki and Hoshino’s Vantage.
Yamasaki was initially quicker than Ibrahim but the Mercedes-AMG driver was resolute in his defence before finally succumbing to both of his pursuers. Still, he was able to stay with them thanks, in part, to the BMW’s pace dropping off as the stint progressed. Indeed, the trio ran nose to tail over the final laps until Ibrahim lost control at the end of the penultimate tour and spun into the final corner’s barrier.
Ahead, Kimura’s pace had dropped significantly. Initially the battle behind had allowed him to re-establish a 22-second lead before losing 11 seconds on the penultimate lap as a result of the tyre issue. His was doubly cautious due to the stranded Mercedes-AMG that had driven across the track, stopped briefly and continued, but that didn’t fully explain why – flashing his lights in celebration – the Japanese driver approached the chequered flag so slowly. He was gracious enough to admit his mistake post-race, albeit one that has prevented CarGuy from taking a 10-point championship lead into Okayama’s season finale.
His slowing also distracted Yamaguchi who would have collected Team Studie’s first-ever Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia GT3 victory had he not braked in response. Hoshino kept his foot buried, though, to score a win that appeared entirely unlikely just one corner before.
Prince Abu Ibrahim and Jazeman Jaafar benefitted from their Triple Eight JMR team-mates’ accident to finish fourth after the latter had enjoyed an entertaining scrap with Yogibo Racing’s Ferrari and Foster prior to the pitstops.
AAS Motorsport’s Kantadhee Kusiri and Tanart Sathienthirakul came through to finish fifth overall and first in Silver after their only rivals, yesterday’s winners Naoki Yokomizo and Kiyoto Fujinami, damaged a wheel after making contact with a GT4 car at the final corner.
The second EBM-run Porsche, featuring Harker and Setiawan Santoso, completed the top-six ahead of Am class winners Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Mineki Okura (Reap Fueling Ambitions).
It’s now on to Okayama, which stages this year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia and Fanatec Japan Cup season finale on September 23-25.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group