Baguette, Tsukakoshi Win Dramatic Fuji Enduro
Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi took an enthralling victory from 11th on the grid in round two of the Super GT series held at Fuji Speedway last Tuesday.
The Real Racing Honda NSX-GT pairing used a Full Course Yellow period to emerge in front after initially running in the mid-pack.
Aguri Honda driver Nirei Fukuzumi moved to the head of the field at the start after overcoming pole-sitter Ritomo Miyata, but was himself overtaken after a few laps by Toyota GR Supra driver Sho Tsuboi who had advanced from fourth on the GT500 grid.
Hiroaki Ishiura was another of the early contenders, but the ZENT Cerumo driver was forced to retire when his Toyota’s left-rear wheel detached at the final corner.
This produced an FCY slow period, during which Tsukakoshi pitted to hand over to Baguette. The move enabled the Real Racing Honda to climb into the lead, ahead of Tsuboi’s co-driver Yuhi Sekiguchi, while Baguette grew the advantage in the middle stint.
Real Racing lost time during its second stop, with Tsukakoshi falling into the clutches of both Fukuzumi and Tsuboi who both managed to get past.
Tsuboi’s Toyota then hit mechanical trouble and stopped at Turn 1, while Fukuzumi was dealt a drive-through for passing a car under FCY conditions. That returned the lead to Tsukakoshi, who fought off Kenta Yamashita’s Toyota to win by less than a second.
GT300 category honors went to Toyota drivers Hiroki Yoshimoto and Shunsuke Kohno.
RESULTS: Fuji 500 km
DTM Pre-Season Ramps Up at Lausitzring
Preparations for the DTM’s new GT3 era continued last week with a three-day test at the Lausitzring involving mock race starts and six sessions totaling 24 hours of track time.
Maximilian Goetz set the pace on each day driving a Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
Goetz made continuous improvements across the test, starting with a 1:43.840 on Tuesday before taking half a second off with a 1:43.311 flyer on Wednesday. The German driver went further on Thursday, producing a 1:42.774 best in the final session.
After dominating the first pre-season test at Hockenheim, Mercedes-AMG entries continued to lead the way in the early stages at the Lausitzring by blocking out the top five times on the first day.
However, the Mercedes-AMG command was infiltrated on days two and three by the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evos driven by Liam Lawson and Alexander Albon.
Albon ran second to Goetz on day two with Lawson just behind, before Lawson pushed Goetz to within a tenth of the best outright time on Thursday. Nick Cassiday, who will share the Alpha Tauri Ferrari seat with Albon this season, turned laps on the first day.
Ex-Formula 1 driver Albon placed third in the combined leaderboard, ahead of Mercedes-AMG drivers Philip Ellis, Arjun Maini, Lucas Auer, Vincent Abril and Daniel Juncadella.
Kelvin van der Linde was the top Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo driver in ninth on a 1:43.552 while Marco Wittmann led BMW’s presence with a 1:44.820 submitted on day two.
Other Racing Action
***A grid of 17 GT3 cars headlined the inaugural round of the new GT Super Sprint Challenge series at Shanghai. David Pun won the opening race in the Uno Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3, while Lv Wei prevailed in race two for Ferrari outfit 300+ Motorsport. The 2021 GTSSC is holding five rounds across China, with the next event set for Zhuzhou on June 12-13. Race 1 / Race 2
***Two different Sainteloc Racing crews won during round two of the FFSA French GT Championship at Magny-Cours. Fabien Michal and Gregory Guilvert won Saturday evening’s encounter before placing third on Sunday as their Audi R8 LMS GT4 teammates Anthony Belthoise and Olivier Esteves took their share of the spoils. Race 1 / Race 2
***The DTM test at the Lausitzring also included track time for the GT4-based DTM Trophy. Philipp Stahlschmidt led the way in his Bonk Motorsport BMW M4 with a time of 1:53.837 that came on the first day of running.
News & Notes
***Enduro Motorsport will run a McLaren 720S GT3 in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship. The team was only established last year and ran a Mercedes-AMG GT4 in GT Cup during its maiden season. The drivers for its GT3 step will be Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton.
***Optimum Motorsport has confirmed the retention of its 2020 driver pairings for this year’s International GT Open campaign. The team is running Inception Racing-entered McLaren 720S GT3s for Nick Moss and Joe Osborne, and Ollie Millroy and Brendan Iribe who are also competing in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS.
***Marvin Kirchhoefer has returned to Callaway Competition to share the German team’s Corvette C7 GT3-R with the retuning Jeffrey Schmidt in ADAC GT Masters. Kirchhoefer last drove for Callaway in 2019, before Schmidt arrived as Markus Pommer’s new co-driver for last season.
***33 cars are on the current entry list for the 12 Hours of Hockenheim, which marks the fourth points-paying round of the 24H Series on May 22-23. The field includes nine GT3 cars from teams running Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Ferrari machinery.
***Of note, Herberth Motorsport is running a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 rather than its Mugello and Paul Ricard-winning Porsche 911 GT3 R. Points leaders Robert Renauer, Daniel Allemann and Ralf Bohn are listed in a Cup-class Herberth Porsche, while Alfred Renauer has remained in the team’s GT3 setup as part of the Ferrari crew. Herberth is running a GTE Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (Mid-Ohio), European Le Mans Series (Red Bull Ring), ADAC GT Masters (Oschersleben), International GT Open (Paul Ricard), Fanatec GT2 European Series (Hockenheim)