The second day of racing in Suzuka at the 2016 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia series got off to a flying start this morning as drivers and teams again took to the track for the second and final race of the weekend to be held at Suzuka. After yesterday’s tightly arranged ranking, especially in the PRO-AM class, competitors were eager to get back to the action and claim a spot on the podium. Last night’s showers had wet down the track, and it was under forebodingly grey skies that racers took to the grid, the Huracán race cars all still fitted with slicks however as the rain had since abated.
The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia series holds a race in Japan every year, but 2016 is the first year the competition has made its way to Suzuka. Both Japanese and international drivers in the series expressed excitement about the new race venue in the run up to the competition. Local drivers did well in the first round qualifying on Saturday, the second round proving to be no different, with five of the top seven grid spots claimed by Japanese teams.
Yesterday morning saw qualifying round two completed, with race one winners Yudai Uchida of Japan and teammate Jono Lester from New Zealand also taking the top spot on the grid for race two. The USA’s Larry De George and Monaco national Cedric Sbirrazzuoli were looking to get on the podium having qualified in second, putting them in a much better position than twelfth on the grid as they were in race one. Zen Low from Malaysia and Italian teammate Max Wiser qualified in third, followed by Toshiyuki Ochiai and Afiq Yazid, also from Malaysia, uncharacteristically off the top three spots. Qualifying in fifth was Hironori Takeuchi of Japan, followed by fellow Japanese driver Takeshi Kimura in sixth and Japanese PRO-AM duo Akira Mizutani and Hajime Noma in seventh.
After a rolling safety car start, the group started jostling for positions immediately, with local drivers Mizutani and Noma getting off to a cracking race, pushing up into pole in the first lap, followed by Low and Wiser, with Uchida and Lester slipping into third and De George and Sbirrazzuoli going into fourth. After a slower than usual qualifying lap for the pair, Dilantha Malagamuwa of Sri Lanka and Armaan Ebrahim of India were now in fifth having qualified ninth on the gird.
By lap four Low and Wiser had taken pole position, followed by Uchida and Lester. De George and Sbirrazzuoli by this time had managed to find their way back into the top three, but were pursued closely by Mizutani and Noma, now down into fourth. Malagamuwa and Ebrahim were now in fifth, with Ochiai and Yazid falling to sixth. In the ninth lap there was no change to the top three positions, however the middle of the group saw several shuffles, with Ochiai and Yazid moving back up to fourth, with Andrew Haryanto of Indonesia moving up to fifth with Samson Chan and George Chou moving up to sixth from eleventh.
By lap eighteen Uchida and Lester had pulled back into pole, after which we saw an intense battle for the win, with Ochiai and Yazid coming back with a vengeance to take back the lead away from Uchida and Lester, with Low and Wiser in third, seeing that De George and Sbirrazzuoli were again held off the podium. As the checkered flag fell, Ochiai and Yazid were in pole, followed by Uchida and Lester in second, with Low and Wiser in third.
With the weekends racing drawn to a close, drivers and teams now look forward to another first for the series. Next month for the first time ever, the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo heads to Thailand to race the Buriram United International Circuit. The track, the first FIA Grade 1 and FIM Grade A circuit in Thailand represents a fresh challenge to most of the competitors, so will undoubtedly be a memorable race outing for all. Don’t miss the thrilling return to action on July 23.