OAK Racing Team TOTAL claimed top honors in Sunday’s Three Hours of Fuji, following a come-from-behind victory for Ho-Pin Tung, David Cheng and Keiko Ihara.
The second round of the Asian Le Mans Series had its share of drama, with a crash by Ihara — who had built up a two-lap lead over the stalled Eurasia Motorsport Oreca 03 Nissan — sending OAK’s Morgan-Judd to the garage for repairs.
While rejoining two laps behind the pole-sitting Eurasia entry, which had taken the lead, the French squad mounted a remarkable recovery drive, with Cheng regaining one of the lost laps, through a move around Ju Jun Jin in the second hour.
Tung, meanwhile, made up the remaining time in his closing stint, which saw the Chinese driver turn laps nearly 10 seconds per lap quicker than the John Hartshorne-driven Eurasia entry, which he overtook for the lead with less than 45 minute to go.
Eurasia’s fortunes went from bad to worse as Hartshorne was forced to serve a stop-and-hold plus 40-second penalty, with OAK, which ended up triple-stinting its Michelin tires, cruising to a one-lap victory over the Eurasia entry of Richard Bradley.
“Because of Keiko’s trouble with the car, we had to change our strategy because the tires were damaged as well in that crash,” Tung explained.
“For me, it was basically to try and bring the car home at a consistent pace, which I managed to do I think.
“The car wasn’t in a perfect state to drive due to the accident and having to manage on one set of tires, but I think the team made a good turnaround and shows that you should never give up.”
Cheng added: “I think it goes to show what endurance racing is and goes to show how well this OAK Racing Team TOTAL functions. We got the wing changed really fast and didn’t lose too much action time.”
The No. 91 Team AAI BMW Z4 GT3 of Jun San Chen, Tatsuya Tanigawa and Carlo van Dam picked up GT class honors and a third place overall finish, one lap ahead of the sister Nissan GT-R GT3 NISMO, which came home second in class.
The Mathias Beche, Kevin Tse and Samson Chan-driven No. 77 Craft-Bamboo Racing Ligier JS 53 Evo, meanwhile, claimed back-to-back victories in CN, five laps ahead of the Avelon Formula Wolf GB08, which finished 6th overall.
Seven of the eight total entries took the checkered flag, with the GT pole-sitting No. 90 Team AAI Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 retiring late in the running.
Only one of the Emperor Racing Lamborghini Gallardo FL2s took part in the race, as two of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia cars participated in qualifying. Both were late additions to the grid.
RESULTS: Three Hours of Fuji