Audi takes first win at Suzuka ahead of Porsche

Published on August 25th, 2011

The Audi R8 LMS GT3 claimed its first GT Asia Series win at Suzuka Circuit today ahead of the Porsche 997 GT3 R. The race started out on a downcast afternoon with all teams being cautious of the impending rain.

As the pit-stop window closed and drivers had setted back into their race positions, it started to pour with just three laps to go causing GT4 Asia driver, Shuichi Hatakeyama to spin and hit the tyre barrier on the last lap. But the S&D Motorsports’ driver recovered in time to maintain his position to the chequered flag and claimed third place in the GT4 class.

Despite the uncertain weather, pole starter, Hiroshi Hamaguchi, in the Hitotsuyama Racing’s Audi set the fastest time of the day with 2:07.359, finishing the race a massive 54.803 seconds ahead of the second placed Porsche of Eddie Yau.

“It was quite competitive. I tried to save my tyres in the first half of the race, but Mok was quite quick in catching up so I had to push myself and just hope that my tyres lasted, but it started raining, so I could control my race.

“I guess everybody just tried to keep their positions so I wasn’t being pushed and I felt quite safe and slowed down.”

“The last two laps, oh man, that was crazy! It was just difficult to stay on the track and I barely made it. I am glad that I can win this race and that I am in this Series,” said Hamaguchi at the post race press conference.

As for the next race, Hamaguchi said “Rain would be better for me. Am I getting some weight added tomorrow?” he asked and Mok quickly interjected with a laugh “You better!”

Yau, who started the race in fourth had a brilliant start, pushing past the Lamborghini LP560 of Dilantha Malagamuwa at the start. Yau was immediately alongside the Ferrari F458 of Mok Weng Sun into turn 1 and almost took second place before giving a clean path for Mok to keep his position into turn 2.

Meanwhile, Hamaguchi opened up a gap to the rest of the pack into the pit-stop window while Mok maintained his second place. At the stops, Mok of Team Clearwater Racing misjudged his stop and was penalised with a one-second stop-go penalty, allowing Yau the second spot on the podium and relegating Mok down to fourth.

“Its really nice to be in Suzuka. It’s a new track to us and we are still learning a lot everyday.”

“Mok was very consistent and didn’t make a single mistake in the first eight laps and he was pulling away slowly every lap. Dilantha was behind me about half to one second away so I was just going my pace,” said the Asia Racing Team driver.

“Then on the second last lap it got pretty bad and I was practically on third gear all the way back to the chequered flag,” ended Yau, who now leads the Championship by one point with 96 points to Mok’s 95.

Whilst Mok took his stop-go penalty Malagamuwa also got past, but Malagamuwa, who has been struggling with a down on power engine,  could not prevent Mok from recatching him towards the end of the race. With just three laps to go, the skys opened up and left all the drivers to drive cautiously towards the end of the race. Malagamuwa eased off slightly, allowing Mok to get past him towards the end of the second last lap to claim the last spot on the podium.

Mok was still relieved to be on the podium after a difficult outing with a promise about his lost Championship lead, “I am going to get it back tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

“Right now with the way the Championship is, every single point counts. So we have got to bring the car home with good points,” ended Mok.

For Malagamuwa, finishing fourth was the safest choice for the Championship, seeing that the conditions of the track and his car were not ideal. He said “It was raining and my car was swinging so I didn’t want to take the risk.”

As the lead drivers were concentrating on their race, plenty of eyes in the grandstand were concentrating on the battle going on in the mid pack. Two Porsches, a Lamborghini Gallardo and two Ferrari’s were battling it out, with two Aston Martin N24’s thrown into the mix at the start.

The pack of five changed positions more than once and kept their battle going almost from the start of the race right to when the rain started. In the end Takeomi Mima in the Porsche 996 R, Naoki Furuya in the 997 Cup 3.6, Siu Yuk Lung in the Gallardo, partners Keith Chan and Kevin Tse in the Ferrari F430 Challenge and John Shen in the F430 GT finished in eleventh to fifteenth respectively.

Even the GT4 Asia drivers were caught up in the battle. Concord Absolute Racing’s Ryan Marsden in the N24 made one of the best starts of the day when he made five places right at the start ,before making a mistake on the next lap which relegated him back down to last.

At the end of the day, it was the G50 that claimed the win in the GT4 Asia class with driver Nigel Farmer at the helm. Farmer who only just returned to the series last July in Fuji was elated with his first ever win and was all smiles after the race.

The Track Torque Racing’s car finally took the win ahead of on track nemesis from Concord Absolute Racing. The pairing of Mark Williamson and Simon Waters took the second spot on the podium ahead of the driver partners from S&D Motorsports, Hatakeyama and Ida.

The GTM class was won by Hisamori Hayashi in the Porsche 997 Cup 3.8, he crossed the line ahead of Kenji Kobayashi also in a 997 while Wayne Shen, who was battling with rising temperatures in his Ferrari F430 GT, finished in third.

The GT Asia Series continues with Round 8 at Suzuka Circuit, Japan on Sunday, 21s August 2011 at 11.40am local time before heading to Autopolis International Circuit for the penultimate weekend on 30th September to 2nd October 2011.

The GT Asia Series is supported by Michelin tyres, Graham London and Auto Art. The Series is organised by Motorsport Asia and Supercar Club Hong Kong.

words & pix: Motorsport Asia


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