The second stop of the 2016 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia series kicked off today at Japan’s famed Suzuka Circuit, a first for the series and one of two stops in the championship to be held in Japan this year. The pre-race activities started with a characteristically stunning Lamborghini car parade around the circuit, where local Lamborghini enthusiasts and collectors were invited to bring their beloved fighting bull marques to the track, in an inspiring display of color, beauty and raw naturally aspirated power.
The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia series has held a race in Japan every year since its conception, but the 2016 season marks the first time the competition has visited Suzuka. The race weekends in Japan typically see a good number of local drivers and teams taking part, this year being no exception. Under blue and cirrus skies with warm temperatures, drivers took to the grid to do battle in a new arena.
Earlier in the day, the qualifying session for race one went well for the Japanese drivers, with tree of the top four grid positions held by local teams. AM driver Toshiyuki Ochiai of Japan and PRO teammate Afiq Yazid of Malaysia put in the fastest time, followed by another PRO-AM duo, Dilantha Malagamuwa of Sri Lanka and Armaan Ebrahim of India in second. Local driver Yudai Uchida, and his New Zealand teammate Jono Lester came in third, chased by Japanese AM driver Takeshi Kimura.
After a safety car start, the lead group maintained their positions for the first few laps. By lap 6 however, Takeshi Kimura had slipped down one place into fifth due to pressure from Chinese racing duo Zhang Dasheng and Li Chao who went into fourth, with Andrew Haryanto of Indonesia in sixth and Japanese PRO-AM team Akira Mizutani and Hajime Noma in seventh.
By lap 11, Uchida and Lester had slipped right down to sixth, allowing Zhang Dasheng and Li Chao into third, followed by Takeshi Kimura in fourth and Akira Mizutani and Hajime Noma now in fifth; however with a skillful and aggressive follow up, the pair managed to pull of an incredible comeback and by lap 15 were back up to second place, beating back Takeshi Kimura who was now in third. Meanwhile, Malagamuwa and Ebrahim had slipped to fourth, with Zhang Dasheng and Li Chao in fifth.
By lap 19 Uchida and Lester were up in pole and holding on tight, pursued by Yazid and Ochiai in second and Malagamuwa and Ebrahim in third, but as the checkered flag fell their pursuers were unable to catch them, the final win going to Uchida and Lester, with Yazid and Ochiai in second, followed by Malagamuwa and Ebrahim in third. Larry De George from the USA and Monaco born teammate Cedric Sbirrazzuoli put in a good performance, starting in at twelfth on the grid and finishing fourth overall, with less than half a second separating them from a spot on the podium.