The second Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS event in as many weekends takes place at Fuji International Speedway on July 22-24 when an impressive list of local teams and drivers once again goes head-to-head with continental rivals.
Rounds five and six of the regular season, as well as 2022’s second Fanatec Japan Cup event, follow hot on the heels of Suzuka, which served up its fair share of incredible racing and unpredictable results.
A total of 25 cars encompassing 16 GT3s, six GT4s, two TC Invitationals and one GTC are scheduled to contest both 60-minute races in the shadow of Mount Fuji this Saturday and Sunday before the championship moves on to Sugo next month.
Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Nick Foster will expect to reconvene with their GT3 drivers’ championship advantage intact after establishing a healthy advantage at Suzuka. Two podiums versus a double blank for Setiawan Santoso and Reid Harker has helped Triple Eight JMR’s duo move 38 points clear of their nearest full-season rivals.
Takeshi Kimura and Kei Cozzolino are actually five points closer thanks to their remarkable slick-shod victory in Suzuka’s first race. But with their Ferrari only contesting the four rounds of Fanatec Japan Cup – a class CarGuy Racing’s Pro-Am pairing lead – Ibrahim and Foster have less reason to be concerned about their overall title prospects.
Nevertheless, the #99 Mercedes-AMG does have a 10-second Success Penalty to serve in Race 1 thanks to its second place last Sunday. By contrast, CarGuy – which also had the pace but not the luck to claim two podiums last time out – will initially compete handicap-free approximately one mile from its Fuji workshop.
Meanwhile, Triple Eight JMR’s other entry fared little better than EBM Giga Racing’s Porsche at Suzuka where Prince Abu Ibrahim and Jazeman Jaafar collected just two points. They’re now 40 behind their table-topping team-mates but do at least have the luxury of competing without a Success Penalty.
The same goes for Yobigo Racing whose weekend began brightly with a pole position but ended in a double non-score thanks primarily to the Race 1 accident that necessitated a new car. Kiyoto Fujinami and Naoki Yokomizo share the same fresh chassis this weekend at a circuit where the latter clinched overall victory alongside Cozzolino and CarGuy in 2017.
Several Fanatec Japan Cup entries other than CarGuy will also feature at the sharp end this weekend. Chief among them are Porsche Center Okazaki’s Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura whose top-six charge in Suzuka’s second race was halted by an unfortunate accident. However, the 911 was potent in both qualifying and Race 1 where Kamimura’s charge in wet conditions netted the team second place overall.
Plus with BMW Team Studie were also on the podium, albeit in Race 2, thanks to Tomohide Yamaguchi and Seiji Ara who qualified the M4 GT3 second quickest. A five-second Success Penalty will compromise their chances on Saturday.
It’s impossible to discuss Suzuka without mentioning Comet Racing’s unlikely overall victory – the first-ever for an Am pairing in Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia history. Circumstance and luck undoubtedly played a large part in Yorikatsu Tsujiko and Yusuke Yamasaki’s success, but the history books will forever record their victory against the odds, as well as Honda’s maiden series win. The full 15-second Success Penalty applies to the crew’s Race 1 pitstop on Saturday, blunting their chances of fighting for class honours.
Elsewhere, Audi Sport Asia Team X Works’ #91 entry will miss Fuji due to the fire that caused significant damage during last Friday’s practice session. Instead, David Pun partners his regular co-driver Shaun Thong aboard the #22 R8 previously raced by Sandy Stuvik.
Six of the seven cars that raced at Suzuka have made the trip to Fuji where Hiroaki Hatano and Shinya Hosokawa arrive as both GT4’s overall and Fanatec Japan Cup championship leaders.
Fourth place followed by victory from pole has given the Team GMB Mercedes-AMG a four-point lead over three crews locked on the same total after two rounds. However, it will be their turn to take the maximum Success Penalty pain on Saturday…
Just ask Race 1 winners Jun Tashiro – who also qualified on pole – and Tatsuya Tanigawa (Team Scala) whose chances were restricted last Sunday by the 15-second handicap. However, they were in position to finish third or even second when contact with an errant GT3 car ended their podium chances.
In contrast, Brian Lee/Hideto Yasuoka (GTO Racing Team) and Motoharu Sato/Katsuyuki Hiranaka (Koshido Racing) both collected second and third place finishes thanks to their lighter Success Penalties.
CREF Motor Sport’s McLaren misses Fuji as a result of the damage it sustained last weekend.
Elsewhere, Bingo Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup becomes the first GTC entry to ever contest Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia, while two more BMW M2 CSRs make their championship debuts in the TC INV class.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group