Takeshi Kimura and Kei Casalino came home comfortable winners in the first of two Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS races at Fuji this weekend, after Ferrari CarGuy Racing started from pole, dropped to fourth and returned to the fight after pit stops.
Casolino took the checkered flag by 13.5 seconds ahead of Yogibo Racing’s Kyoto Fujinami and Naoki Yokamizu, who had earlier passed Kimura for the lead, while Tanart Satyenthirakul held off a charging Nick Foster to take the podium with AAS Motorsport co-driver Kantaji Kusiri.
Further down the line, the Scala team were on course for a landslide victory in GT4 until a one-second penalty allowed Koshido Racing’s Motoharu Sato and Katsuyuki Hiranaka to claim an unlikely win.
Jun Tashiro, who dominated the opening event, and Tatsuya Tanigawa still managed to finish second, while GTO Racing Team’s Brian Lee and Hideta Yasuoka maintained their 100 percent podium record in third.
Kimura’s shock pole position against Yokamizou and Kusira meant that the Am rider would have two theoretically faster silver-marked drivers at the start of Saturday’s 60-minute race.
Sure enough, the Ferrari Yogibo raced past the first turn at the start of the second lap, before the Porsche AAS soon followed suit. What CarGuy may not have counted on, however, was that Hiroshi Hamaguchi, who finished fifth in the Lamborghini Reap Fueling Ambitions, also made it to the end of the fourth lap.
The top two initially pulled away before their break allowed the Huracan to lead a three-way battle before the pit window opened after 25 minutes.
But while Yogiba broke Yokamizu at the first opportunity, Kusiri and Hamaguchi went deep in the 10-minute window. And that saw Fujinami extend his lead over both cars at the end of the stops.
Kimura, meanwhile, was six seconds behind the race leader when he passed Casolin early in the window. And as with Yogibo, it turned out to be a faster strategy. Indeed, the No. 777 separated the Porsche and Lamborghini as they exited the pits together, then easily passed Satyentirakul thanks to high tire temperatures.
Fujinami led by almost three seconds at that point, but was overtaken and overtaken within two laps by the relentless Casolino, who, as in Suzuka, had speed.
Sathienthirakul was safe in third, especially when Hamaguti co-driver Mineki Okura was forced to retire shortly after the pit stop. However, championship leader Nick Foster was on the charge after a 10-second penalty cost the JMR Mercedes-AMG triple eight, which he shares with Prince Geoffrey Ibrahim. He soon replaced D’station’s Tomanobu Fujii from fourth, but there weren’t enough laps to catch the Porsche, which was 1.2s ahead of the checkered flag.
Porsche Center Okazaki’s Yuta Kamimura overtook Fujii and Jazzman Gioafar on the same lap to finish fifth, while fellow Mercedes-AMG Triple Eight JMR also took advantage of the same situation to round out the top six.
Fuji’s first race would be one that the Scala team really should have won, such was their dominance before the pit stops.
Tashiro led from pole position and immediately pulled away from Lee, who overtook front row starter Masayoshi Oyama early on. Akiland’s Toyota was back in front of GTO’s Mercedes-AMG before the pit stops, by which time the result should have been a foregone conclusion given the Scala team’s advantage.
Indeed, after 25 minutes, Tashiro was 28 seconds ahead and stayed aboard deep in the window before stopping. His and Tanigawa’s chances were also boosted by their nearest rivals serving 10 and 5 second success penalties, which helped extend Team Scala’s lead to 50 seconds.
A leisurely pit stop would have been more than enough to maintain a comfortable lead. Instead, the team was one second under their minimum time, resulting in a stop-go penalty of the same length.
They might have been fine if it weren’t for Hiranaka lighting up the timing screens behind. The Mercedes-AMG started ahead of the Toyota Koshido, but was overtaken shortly afterwards and charged to eventually finish 10 seconds behind.
Yasuoka pipped Lee to keep the GTO podium streak alive ahead of Team GMB’s Mercedes-AMG in fourth despite serving a maximum penalty of 15 seconds. The Toyota Akiland won the Am class, finishing fifth overall.
The source. SRO Motorsports Group