Three crews will go head-to-head for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS drivers’ title at Okayama on Sunday after Naoki Yokomizo and Kiyoto Fujinami took theirs and Yogibo Racing’s second win in three races earlier today.
Fujinami resisted CarGuy Racing’s rapidly advancing Ferrari to leave Yokomizo 22 points behind Takeshi Kimura and Kei Cozzolino with 25 still available for winning the final race of 2022. Triple Eight JMR’s Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Nick Foster are now three points behind the same crew after completing Race 1’s podium.
Further back, GTO Racing Team’s Brian Lee and Hideto Yasuoka took a step closer to winning the GT4 crown by converting pole position into class victory. The Mercedes-AMG finished eight seconds clear of CREF Motorsport’s McLaren shared by Masataka Inoue and the first woman to ever claim a series podium, Yuko Suzuki, while third place sees Hiroaki Hatano and Shinya Hosokawa head into the final race 16 points adrift of their championship rivals.
Meanwhile, CarGuy’s crew was crowned Fanatec Japan Cup Overall and Pro-Am champions as a result of their performances during the four Japanese rounds. Kimura and Cozzolino will now be hoping to add the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS title to their haul tomorrow.
FUJINAMI HOLDS FIRM. AGAIN.
Yokomizo was in a league of his own during the opening stint after converting pole position into a healthy lead. But the good work was undone just before the pit window opened when Hiroshi Hamaguchi’s stationary Lamborghini necessitated a Safety Car.
The stops began just as it was withdrawn, and although Yokomizo and AAS Motorsport’s Tanart Sathienthirakul – who’d run second throughout the opening stint after sharing the front row – stayed out, the majority of the field piled in together.
Triple Eight JMR’s two Mercedes-AMG ran third and fourth at that stage after Prince Jefri Ibrahim passed Kimura on the opening lap. But it was CarGuy Racing’s Ferrari that somehow emerged ahead of both despite serving an additional five-second Success Penalty.
Cozzolino then began hunting down Kusiri, who’d taken over from Sathienthirakul, and pulled off an excellent move around the outside of Turn 7 with 22 minutes remaining. Fujinami was, at that stage, six seconds further up the road and aware that anything less than victory would also end Yokomizo’s title chances.
The bright yellow Ferrari was quicker thereafter but never came close to challenging Yogibo’s example, as it did at SUGO. Instead, Fujinami reeled off the final laps before taking the chequered flag 1.2s clear.
Kusiri and Sathienthirakul’s podium chances were extinguished by a one-second stop-go penalty for a short pitstop, which dropped their Porsche to 10th. Instead, Foster limited the damage of Cozzolino jumping him in the pits by coming home third after he’d earlier passed Keita Sawa’s McLaren.
The same ABSSA entry that started seventh in Hiroshi Koizumi’s hands benefitted from AAS’s stop-go, Porsche Center Okazaki’s Success Penalty, and D’station’s early spin – as a result of contact made by Hamaguchi – to move up the order before Sawa held off a hard-charging Reid Harker (EBM Giga Racing) over the final laps.
But there will be disappointment for Prince Abu Ibrahim and Jazeman Jaafar whose apparent slow pitstop dropped them from third to sixth.
Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura’s 10-second Success Penalty restricted them to seventh, one place ahead of the recovering Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii who starts Sunday’s race from pole.
Team Uematsu’s McLaren shared by Yudai Uchida and Tadao Uematsu won the Am class.
GT4 also went the way of its pole-sitters but only after Yasuoka re-took the lead after the pitstops.
Lee converted pole into an early lead and remained there throughout the stint before a 10-second Success Penalty dropped the car behind CREF’s McLaren. However, Yasuoka was able to quickly catch and pass Inoue while chief title rival Hosokawa also moved up to third.
However, GTO’s existing six-point lead plus today’s 10-point swing leaves Lee and Yasuoka with a handy advantage going into Sunday’s season finale.
SEVERAL CLASS CHAMPIONS CROWNED
Kimura and Cozzolino weren’t the only crew to wrap up a class title today. Yokomizo and AMAC Motorsport’s Andrew Macpherson/Ben Porter clinched the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Silver and Am categories, respectively, while Hatano/Hosokawa cannot be beaten in the Fanatec Japan Cup GT4 Silver-Am class. They join Masayoshi Oyama – who won Japan Cup’s GT4 Am title at SUGO – on 2022’s roll of honour.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group