Lamborghini’s thrilling customer GT racing event, the Super Trofeo, has returned to the legendary Suzuka Circuit in Japan’s Mie prefecture this weekend, to hold the third stop of the 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia series.
Featuring a number of veterans and newcomers, the world’s most thrilling single make series is back at Suzuka for the second time in two years for more action packed racing. Suzuka provides a unique and challenging track layout, including the famous bridge and tunnel crossover and elevation changes, with a long downhill straight by the spectator stands, overlooked by the iconic Suzuka Ferris wheel.
In keeping with tradition, a Lamborghini customer car parade was featured in Saturday’s events, showcasing a stunning lineup of Lamborghini cars, many meticulously personalized and unique in eye-catching detailing, created especially by Lamborghini’s Ad Personam department for discerning customers.
Squadra Corse, Lamborghini’s motorsport department, is dedicated to providing the most thrilling race weekends for competitors across its four series around the Globe. With stops all over the continent, visiting the best known and most loved race tracks in the region, the Asia series has attracted the attention of Asian teams, as well as several European and Middle Eastern teams wanting to take part in the unmissable excitement offered by racing in the Far East. Japan races especially appeal to local teams, with a high turnout of Japanese drivers for this round, including former Formula One driver and local hero Shinji Nakano and his teammate Hiroyuki Iiri, himself a veteran Japanese Super GT campaigner.
In the early afternoon sun, the cars took to the grid, with some particularly bright liveries and well turned-out cars, a characteristic of the Japanese teams. With considerable local interest in motorsport, there were a number of guests and spectators in the stands, with the Super Trofeo taking place alongside the third round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia, where a number of teams are competing with the Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
With the temperatures at a relatively mild 25 degrees C, bright skies and a dry track, conditions were excellent for racing. With the formation lap completed, race one got underway, with Malaysian driver Afiq Yazid starting at the front of the grid in Clazzio Racing’s car #11. By the third lap, Yazid had put a gap of nearly two seconds between himself and Polish driver Artur Janosz in car #3 with team Lazarus, and nearly five seconds between pole and third place, then held by local Masami Kageyama in car #63 with Emperor racing. Meanwhile, Edoardo Liberati from Italy in car #19, also with Emperor Racing, was comfortably in fourth, just ahead of Australian Ben Gersekowski, driving car #2 for Leipert.
At the head of the PRO-AM pack and in sixth overall, local driver Takeshi Matsumoto of HoJust Racing was doing his best to keep Canadian Max Ebenal in #33 at bay. A few seconds down the road was Andrew Haryanto from Indonesia, the leading AM driver in car #69 with X-One Racing, hotly pursued by local super star and ex F1 driver Shinji Nakano in car #12 with Lamborghini Osaka Racing Team in seventh, Indian driver Armaan Ebrahim in car #5 with FFF Racing Team in eighth and Australian Richard Goddard in car #50, also with FFF Racing Team, both making their way up from the rear of the grid after both cars had issues in Qualifying.
Taiwanese AM driver George Chou in car #66 followed 0.8 seconds behind Goddard, leading PRO-AM Hong-Kong driver Nigel Farmer in car #37 with GDL Racing, who was pursued closely by local AM driver Takeshi Kimura in car #74, driving for Car Guy racing. Further back in the field, Thai AM driver Suttiluck Buncharoen maintained a comfortable lead on Lamborghini Cup class Thai driver, Supachai Weeraborwornpong with Top Speed Racing, ahead of Italian driver Gabriele Murroni with Petri Corse in seventeenth.
Into the fourth lap, Kimura managed to get past Farmer, going into thirteenth. By the sixth lap, Ebenal’s car was having problems, eventually forcing him to retire after a promising first few laps.
The pit lane opened in lap eight, with Weeraborwornpong being the first to come in for the required pit stop period. Into lap nine and Haryanto got past Goddard, going into seventh overall. With teams making their driver changes over the next handful of laps, in the PRO category Liberati, Yazid and Kageyama aimed to take full advantage of their pace by making their pit stops as late as possible in the mandatory pit window.
After the driver change and post-pitstop shakedown and we are in lap fifteen, Japanese driver Cozzolino Kei in car #11 has a comfortable lead, while British driver Toby Sowery in car #3 took advantage of the opportunity to get past Kaneishi Toshihiro in car #63 and fellow Brit Rory Collingbourne in car #2, to go into second. Meanwhile, Haryanto passed Hiroyuki Iiri in car #12, going into seventh overall.
In the nineteenth and final lap of the race, fans were treated to a spectacular battle that took place between Leipert’s car #2 and Emperor Racing’s car #63, fighting hard for the final step on the podium.
The final results saw Afiq Yazid and Cozzolino Kei with Clazzio Racing take first in PRO class, followed by Artur Janosz and Toby Sowery with Lazarus in second and Ben Gersekowski and Rory Collingbourne with Leipert in third. In the AM class, Andrew Haryanto with X-One Racing Team came in first, followed by Takeshi Kimura and Yasuke Hayashi with Car Guy Racing in second and Suttiluck Buncharoen with True Visions Motorsport in third. In the Lamborghini Cup class, Supachai Weeraborwornpong with Top Speed Racing bested Gabriele Murroni with Petri Corse.