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Racing Roundup

Weekly Racing Roundup (6.29.20)

Reports from Super GT testing and Trans Am, plus lots of news as racing prepares to restart…

Photo: Super GT

Honda Quickest on Both Days of Super GT Test

The Super GT Series returned to action last weekend for an official pre-season test at Fuji Speedway.

Honda machinery topped the GT500 class on both days, while Team Kunimitsu’s Tadasuke Makino set the fastest lap of 1:27.870 at the end of his stint on Saturday.

Makino, who has replaced Jenson Button in the Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT this year, narrowly beat Tom’s Toyota GR Supra driver Sacha Fenestraz by 0.034 seconds.

Third overall and a further 0.069 seconds of Fenestraz was Koudai Tsukakoshi who was without his Keihin Real Racing Honda co-driver Bertrand Baguette for the test because of travel restrictions from Europe to Japan.

While Saturday offered dry running, Sunday’s action took place under trickier conditions, with rain falling during session three and a dry line emerging in the final session.

Fastest on the drying track was Tomoki Nojiri in the No. 8 ARTA Honda on a 1:28.059 while Toyota’s Ryo Hirakawa was a tenth back in second.

The best Nissan GT-R NISMO lap of the weekend was a 1:28.556 which came courtesy of Kondo Racing’s Jann Mardenborough on day one.

The GT300 class pace was set by Hideki Yamauchi in the No. 61 Subaru BRZ GT300.

Yamauchi’s time of 1:37.379 eclipsed the efforts of Saturday pace-setter Jake Parsons behind the wheel of the Drago Corse Honda NSX GT3 Evo and Nobuteru Taniguchi in Goodsmile Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

RESULTS: Saturday / Sunday

Photo: Trans Am

Francis Jr Wins on Trans Am’s Return

Ernie Francis Jr mastered the drying track surface at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to win the first Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli race since March.

The Ford Mustang driver started from fifth in the wet but worked his way into the podium positions as the conditions improved.

With 33 minutes remaining, Francis Jr overtook Chris Dyson after a long battle between the pair, before setting off to reduce the half-minute lead held by Tony Ave.

This gap came down to zero within 13 minutes, enabling Francis Jr to pass Ave for the win despite both drivers needing to manage their wet tires in the final stages.

Dyson, back in third, took a gamble to pit for slicks and managed to make up the lost time with the superior compound for the moment, getting past Doug Peterson and Tomy Drissi to secure a podium result.

Simon Gregg finished sixth ahead of Amy Ruman, while Erich Joiner won the XGT class in his Porsche 911 GT3 R. 

RESULTS: Mid-Ohio

Photo: Australian GT

Australian GT Reveals Updated Calendar

The Australian GT Championship has issued its latest 2020 calendar update, locking in four events for the return to racing as coronavirus pandemic restrictions ease.

The season is set to restart at Sydney Motorsport Park in mid-August, rather than Phillip Island, while Sandown Raceway will host round two after initially being labeled as the season closer.

Round three will involve the championship taking up a support race slot during the Bathurst 1000 Supercars weekend, while the format of two 60-minute races will remain.

A new late-season date has been found for the postponed Barbagallo Raceway fixture that was originally due to take place in May.

Phillip Island, The Bend Motorsport Park and Gold Coast have all dropped off the schedule, although Australian GT category rights holder Jim Manolios revealed the series is “looking at options” to add a fifth event.

“Ideally we’d like to work to a five-round program, but the onset of COVID-19 and the condensed calendar has made that a big challenge for everyone,” he said.

“To achieve what our team has done so far and maintain our preferred venues and race lengths has been a great achievement, but we will continue the discussion with all the stakeholders with respect to adding another round, but for now, we have a great program to work with.”

2020 Australian GT Calendar (updated)

Aug. 14-16 – Sydney Motorsports Park
Sep. 11-13 – Sandown Raceway
Oct. 9-10 – Bathurst
Oct. 30-Nov. 1 – Barbagallo Raceway

Photo: JEP

News & Notes

***Reigning British GT champion TF Sport has confirmed that it won’t be defending its GT3 class title this year, citing “COVID-19 circumstances” as the reason. The team will instead focus on its two-car Aston Martin Vantage GT4 program.

***While its British GT program has been slimmed, TF Sport has committed to International GT Open with an Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood, two of the team’s WEC drivers, will share the wheel for TF’s return to the series after four years away.

***Ferrari will be represented in British GT’s top class for the first time since 2017 courtesy of an entry for AF Corse. Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron will co-drive the 488 GT3 Evo.

***Four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Nico Lapierre has become a shareholder in Racing Spirit of Le Man, the organization behind the Cool Racing FIA World Endurance Championship squad. Lapierre was part of Cool’s 2019 4 Hours of Silverstone win, on the team’s WEC debut following its graduation from the ELMS LMP2 ranks.

***Cool Racing has also confirmed that 17-year-old FFSA GT standout Edouard Cauhaupe will drive its Ligier JS P230 Nissan in Michelin Le Mans Cup this year, sharing the wheel with Nicolas Maulini.

***Graff has affirmed its plans to run four Le Mans Prototypes this year, utilizing chassis from three different constructors. The French squad will run an Oreca 07 Gibson, a Ligier JS P320 and a Duqueine D08 in the ELMS, plus a Ligier LMP3 in Le Mans Cup.

***ADAC GT Masters has confirmed 33 cars for its 2020 season, which is due to start in August. Eight GT3 manufacturers are involved, while Audi has the largest representation with a total of 14 cars across eight teams. View the entry list here.

***The DTM has confirmed two different configurations for its separate rounds at the Lausitzring. The 3.486 km sprint track will be used for the Aug. 14-16 meeting, while the longer GP configuration that the series typically uses will be deployed on Aug. 21-23.

***V8 Racing has signed Dutch national competitors Thijmen Nabuurs and Jop Rappange to its GT4 European Series program. The Silver Cup pair will contest their first international season with V8’s Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.

***Some-time WEC driver Joel Camathias will also drive in GT4 Europe, having been named in Centri Porsche Ticino’s lineup alongside team owner Ivan Jacoma. The Ticino squad ran its Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in select races last year.

***Double Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso won Saturday’s Legends Trophy esports race held on a virtual Circuit de la Sarthe. Alonso beat a field of current and former racing stars all using Oreca 07 Gibsons. IMSA champion Juan Pablo Montoya scooped the series title.

***KCMG has revealed the liveries for its two new Porsche 911 GT3 Rs. The former Nissan regular is expected to announce an update to its 2020 plans this week.

***In another livery unveiling, Team Mugen has shown off the new Red Bull design that will adorn the Japanese squad’s Honda NSX-GT GT500 in Super GT this year.

***Creventic has received at least 25 entries so far ahead of the 12H Monza next month. Nine GT3-class cars have signed up, according to the provisional entry list.

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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