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Weekly Racing Roundup (3.22.21)

Report from Super Taikyu opener at Motegi, plus news and notes from the past week…

Photo: Super Taikyu

D’station Wins Rain-Shortened Super Taikyu Opener

Tomonobu Fujii, Satoshi Hoshino and Tsubasa Kondo won a soaked opening round of the Super Taikyu series at Motegi in their D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

Saturday’s five-hour started under safety car conditions due to heavy rain and was ended prematurely with one and a half hours to go for the same reason. 

Hiroaki Nagai took the early lead in the PC Okazaki Porsche 911 GT3 R after battling Hoshino in the opening exchanges.

The lead changed in the second hour when Nagai’s co-driver Nobuyuki Oyagi was overtaken by a charging McLaren 720S GT3 driven by Shintaro Kawabata, with Kondo close behind in third for D’station.

Another safety car for rain was introduced after two hours, during which the McLaren – now with Keita Sawa at the wheel – was held at the red light on pit exit. D’station’s call to pit Kondo one lap beforehand enabled Fujii to emerge at the head of the field  

Fujii commanded the race from that point on, in worsening conditions. The safety car was brought out again approaching the end of the third hour, and converted into a red flag.

This gave D’station the win, while the McLaren of Sawa, Kawabata, Tadao Uematsu and ex-Formula 1 driver Yuji Ide placed second. PC Okazaki’s Porsche completed the podium. A Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport won in the GT4-based ST-Z category.

RESULTS: 5H Motegi

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***The 24H Series has moved its inaugural 24 Hours of Sebring race back by one week to Nov. 18-20. The adjustment removes a clash presented by the rescheduling of IMSA’s Motul Petit Le Mans event to the Nov. 13-14 weekend.

***Furthermore, 24H Series organizer Creventic has replaced its 12-hour enduro at Spa with a race of equal length at Paul Ricard. This is due to the FIA World Endurance Championship shifting its Prologue test to April 26-27, while the 12H Spa was due to happen on April 24-25. The Paul Ricard event is on the original 12H Spa dates.

***Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific has delayed the start of its 2021 season from April to August, due to travel restrictions and regional quarantine measures. The campaign is now set to start at Yeongam on Aug. 20-22, followed by Sepang on Sept. 17-19. A support race at the Singapore Grand Prix will lead into the Misano World Final in November, after which two more Asia-Pacific rounds will be held in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi either side of the New Year.

***Kessel Racing is set to race in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup for the first time since 2018 with a Pro-Am entry. Giorgio Roda, Tim Kohmann and Francesco Zollo will drive the Swiss team’s Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.

Image: Xynamic

***Angus Fender won the opening round of the Integellient Money British GT Esports Championship on Sunday. James Baldwin initially took the checkered flag but was given a 30-second post-race penalty for changing his line in a braking zone. This handed the win to Fender, who drove a 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 in British GT last year but was piloting a BMW M6 GT3 for this virtual event. Results: GT3 / GT4

***JRM is back in the British GT Championship running a Bentley Continental GT3 for Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher, the 2019 GT4 Pro-Am champions. JRM planned to contest the 2020 season with the same pairing but its program was halted due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

***Christopher Mies will have a new ADAC GT Masters co-driver in Ricardo Feller this season. The pair will team up in the No. 29 Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo. Feller drove for BWT Muecke Motorsport in 2020, while Mies paired up with Kim-Luis Schramm. Land regular Mies has had a different teammate each year since 2016.

***Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup runner-up Dylan Pereira will make his GT Masters debut sharing a KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 R with the returning Jannes Fittje.

***Lamborghini squad Vincenzo Sospiri Racing has retained Italian GT Sprint champion Yuki Nemoto to its squad for 2021, but the Japanese driver will move across to the Italian team’s International GT Open program.

Image: Haupt Racing Team

***Haupt Racing Team has announced an expansion of its partnership with Bilstein that will see the shock and suspension system provider operate as the Mercedes-AMG squad’s official technical partner at the Nürburgring 24 and NLS. HRT’s No. 16 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo will sport a yellow and blue Bilstein livery as part of the deal.

***Alex Kapadia and Mike Benham have joined Malthe Jakobsen in RLR MSport’s LMP3 driver lineup for ELMS. RLR is entering its sixth season running Ligier machinery in the class. Benham was a 2018 Road to Le Mans winner with Lanan Racing while Kapadia drove for Nielsen Racing at Le Mans last year.

***KTM will continue to be represented on the DTM Trophy grid courtesy of a two-car entry for True Racing, run by Reiter Engineering. KTM development drivers Laura Kraihamer and Reinhard Kofler will pedal the KTM X-Bow GT4s. Teichmann Racing fielded KTMs during the inaugural DTM Trophy season last year.

***Chandler Hull and Theo Oeverhaus are in Walkenhorst Motorsport’s BMW M4 GT4s for the second season of DTM Trophy. Hull, who races BMW machinery in SRO America competition, and 16-year-old German karting graduate Oeverhaus will receive coaching and engineering support from 1999 Sebring 12H winner Joerg Mueller.

Photo: BMW

***The in-development BMW M4 GT3 continued its testing program at Almeria last week. Of note, reigning Nürburgring 24 winner Nick Yelloly turned his first laps behind the wheel of the Munich manufacturer’s new racer.

***Porsche plans to defend its Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli title this year, provided it has customer teams willing to take part. Head of factory motorsport Pascal Zurlinden told Sportscar365: “Our philosophy at Porsche is to always use local teams. Even Suzuka, we would have found teams that were running. Some other manufacturers are entering cars from the same team worldwide, which is probably different. But as we are using local teams, the pandemic didn’t affect our program.”

***Ginetta has officially launched its new North American arm providing race car sales, distribution, manufacturing and engineering from a dedicated facility in South Boston, Virginia. The establishment of Ginetta North America follows the British sports car company’s acquisition of American manufacturer TMI AutoTech, as indicated by Sportscar365 in November.

***Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson said: “We have a loyal customer base in the Americas that we have supported up until now from our HQ in England. With the creation of Ginetta North America, we will be able to provide our North American customers with a whole new level of support and service on the ground here in the US. This will also enable us to significantly expand our brand and customer base in the US, Canada and Mexico, which is a key pillar in our global growth plan.”

On this weekend: NLS (Round 1), 24H Series (Mugello)

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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