It was a spectacular win for the Ferrari 458 GT3 of Team Clearwater Racing when Mok Weng Sun drove a battle filled race to claim the Round 5 win of the GT Asia Series. As usual, Fuji Speedway Circuit provided for an interesting race with unpredictable weather, where the race started damp and finished amidst a slow drizzle.
“First of all I am so happy to be back in Japan racing, I absolutely love it here at Fuji circuit. It’s been a good weekend for us, we have been quick all weekend.”
“For the race today, I was a little bit apprehensive. I saw a little bit of a damp track, so my focus was to stay out of trouble on the first lap because I knew that I absolutely have to defend that corner. After that I think I managed to pull a bit of a gap and stay comfortably in front of Shigeta San,” said Mok.
Mok took the F458 into a great fight with the Porsche 997 GT3R of Hisao Shigeta for most of the race. The duo continued their battle after the pit-stop when Shigeta made a better stop as Mok took a longer time to change tyres.
“I had a slow pit-stop unfortunately. I had to change all four tyres and when I came back out on the cold tyres I saw Hayashi San coming up on me. We had quite a bit of a battle for a while. Somehow I don’t know how, we managed to catch up with Shigeta San, he must have had a spin or something,” added Mok.
While coming down the straight into lap 16, Mok made a dash for Shigeta and overpowered the Porsche into turn 1, taking the outside line, as he moved into the racing line, Shigeta could not brake in time and the duo touched.
“Then the three of us really had a good time for a few laps. There were quite a few passes back and forth, got a few ‘love taps’ from Shigeta San, I think he loves me a lot” said Mok drawing laughs from the drivers.
“Ultimately it was a good race, managed to hang on to the lead and the last three to four laps were quite comfortable and I am delighted to have the first win here” ended Mok.
Mok managed to recover staying ahead of Shigeta and as they headed into turn 4, they touched once more with Shigeta getting caught into a spin, losing one spot to the very close Hisamori Hayashi in the other 997 GT3R.
Shigeta kept close to Hayashi and just as they came into the last turn of the last lap, Shigeta made his move on Hayashi snatching second right before the chequered flag.
“It was a tough race for me. I think this race was my worst race. I want to say sorry to Weng and to Hayashi San because I couldn’t stop at turn 1 and I hit Weng’s car. I think I was just excited, I couldn’t stop and I hit him,” said Shigeta to laughs from Mok and Hayashi, at the Post Race Press Conference.
“I think tomorrow’s race I will take it easy and make it a more fun race for everybody,” he ended.
It was the first stint in the GT Asia Series for Shigeta’s Direction Racing teammate, Hayashi and it was a memorable one leaving him all smiles after the race. “At the first turn, I had a chance to gain a position and lap by lap it became easier to see the two lead cars.” From there Hayashi just maintained his pace and a close watch on the two lead cars, until after the pit-stop window when the battle ensued.
Behind them, Li Zhi Cong in the third of the 997 GT3R had an interesting outing, managing to climb to third from fifth at the first corner at the start of the race. Then he maintained his position all the way to the pit-stop session, after which he made a mistake and spun the car at turn 7 dropping down to fifth behind the Ford GT of Frank Yu. The duo had a good battle before Li managed to overtake Yu for fourth towards the end of the race.
“The set-up is good, tomorrow I have a good set of tyres and I hope I can do better laptimes. I had fun, of course,” said Li smiling.
“It was a really good battle after the pit-stops but we were four seconds over on the pit-time, we were a bit too conservative. We would have place what, maybe in P2? So tomorrow we will do a better pit-stop” said Yu.
David Lai kept a good clean race in his Team Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari 458 GT3 with Yukinori Taniguchi coming in seventh in the second of the Audi R8 LMS. Samson Chan had an interesting race in his Craft Eurasia Racing Hong Kong’s Ford GT3 competing with Jeffrey Lee at the start, overtaking one another before Lee made a move at the last turn of lap five and kept the position.
But Jeffrey was penalised with a drive through after he came into the stop a little over the speed limit, causing his driver partner, Marchy Lee, to have to serve the penalty after the driver switch, dropping them down the ranks before he picked up the pace and places to finish ninth in the Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
“I got the fastest lap of the race and I closed the gap, even in the rain I went quicker than the others. It was not a good race but at least I showed what the Audi can do,” said Marchy.
Both Hiro Nishida in the BMW Z4 and Dilantha Malagamuwa had to make it a game of catch up when Nishida was given a penalty for a qualifying session infringement, dropping him down six places for the start of the race, while Malagamuwa had a start incident with Jeffrey touching his bumper and causing him to spin dropping him to the back of the grid on the first lap. Nishida finished tenth while Malagamuwa crossed in eleventh.
In the GTM class, Hideki Onda claimed the win in Tunewear Racing’s Ferrari 430 GT beating Francis Tjia in an identical F430 of Modena Motorsports’.
Onda said after the race, “the race was great, I thought it was going to be a wet race but we all went with the dry tyres. I think our tyre heat beat the weather. Fuji is a great place to be racing. There is some great competitive competition this time. I’m lucky to finish first.”
For Tjia the podium finish was a welcome surprise after a long stint away from GT Asia. “It’s a nice surprise, I really enjoyed it. I had a terrible start. I’m kind of ‘new’ to it again since I haven’t done rolling start for a few years.
“I didn’t have a good start and it was crowded at turn 1 but I had to be careful to get through it and after that it was foot down. Unfortunately Hideki was too quick, he kind of pulled away from me almost every lap so I kind of settled into a rhythm and tried to stay out of the way of the faster GT3 cars, as and when they came up. It was a good race and it’s nice to be back on the podium” he ended.
Clifford Chen claimed his first podium ever and after a long time away from racing. He was elated with the podium and is already looking forward to the next race. “This is my first time on the podium and I am lucky. They are very tough competitors, I try to play safe. The circuit is very nice and very interesting,” he said with a huge smile.
Jacky Yeung and Sasha Chu were the only two other finishers of the day, Yeung took fifteenth in Arrows Racing’s Lamborghini Gallardo while Chu crossed the line sixteenth for Asia Racing Team.
The GT Asia Series continues with Round 6 held at Fuji Speedway Circuit on Sunday, 15 July 2012 at 12.10pm.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia