The 2019 Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific made its return to Fuji Speedway Circuit, a perennial favourite among the race drivers, for the 5th round of the season. Today’s race saw 22 drivers on the starting grid under an overcast sky.
Trofeo Pirelli AM. It was a complete Japanese lock out at the front of the grid. The race started without a hitch with Yudai Uchida from Rosso Scuderia in pole position. Go Max from M Auto Hiroshima, who started in second position, went on the attack as soon as the lights turned green and took the lead from Uchida after the first lap. It was a perfect race for him as he handled each turn with skill despite numerous attempts by Uchida to take back the lead. Another Japanese driver, Nobuhiro Imada also from Rosso Scuderia, managed to keep pace with the leaders till the end of the race after starting from third on the grid.
Coppa Shell. Homeground advantage must have played an important part for our Japanese race drivers as the pole sitter for the Coppa Shell class was another local driver, Makoto Fujiwara from Cornes Shiba. Fujiwara was dominant in his class as he maintained his lead from start to finish. The hottest duel was between Michael Choi of Blackbird Concessionaire and Yanbin Xing of CTF Beijing for second place. After a very exciting race with passes and counter-passes, Xing eventually prevailed when Choi went slightly long at the last corner on Lap 7 opening the door to his rival. Xing hence took second while Choi came in third.
Coppa Shell AM. It was in the middle of the group where most of the action took place. Andrew Moon of Forza Motor Korea started from pole position in his class with Atsushi Iritani of Cornes Osaka and Ryuichi Kunihiro of M Auto Hiroshima starting in second and third respectively. Moon drove a comfortable race as he managed to keep a healthy gap from his nearest challenger Iritani. The remaining podium positions were hotly contested between Iritani, Kunihiro and Takehiro Takahashi of Auto Speciale.
Iritani proved too strong for his rivals and crossed the line in second, while Takehiro successfully concluded his recovery to third place a lap before the appearance of the Safety-Car, when he overtook Kunihiro after a spectacular duel. In the middle of the group, contact between Kent Chen of Modena Motori Taiwan and Ray Wu of Blackbird Concessionaires HK brought out the Safety-Car for two laps, meaning that there were no other changes of position until the end of the race. Ryuichi Kunihiro was the winner of the Gentlemen Cup for being the best finishing driver over 55 while Kanthicha Chimsiri (Cavallino Motors Bangkok) took the Ladies’ Cup.