Connect with us


D’station Proud to Earn First Win for Vantage GT3 Evo

Tomonobu Fujii says he knew updated Vantage GT3 Evo would be strong at Suzuka as early as last October…

Photo: Konishi Yuya

D’station Racing managing director Tomonobu Fujii has expressed his delight at scoring the first global win for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo in last weekend’s SUPER GT round at Suzuka, something he felt was possible as early as last year.

Fujii and his teammate in the No. 777 Aston Martin, Charlie Fagg, scored a dominant victory in the GT300 class from pole position last Sunday in just the updated version of the Vantage GT3’s third race on Japanese soil.

It followed two non-scores in the previous rounds at Okayama and Fuji, although newcomer Fagg provided a glimpse of the car’s potential in the latter round as he set the fastest time in Q2 and then the fastest lap in the race.

Fujii said he knew from testing the Vantage GT3 Evo at Silverstone last year that Suzuka could provide a strong chance to fight for victory, and credited tire supplier Dunlop for supplying a new construction for last weekend’s race.

“We are really happy to get the first win for the new Vantage GT3, and also our first win in SUPER GT as D’station,” Fujii told Sportscar365. “We also had the first win for the previous Vantage in Super Taikyu at Suzuka in 2019, so we are very proud.

“When I first tested this new Vantage GT3 at Silverstone last October, I knew that the downforce is a strong point for this car; medium- to high-speed corners are really easy to drive, so even at this stage I suspected that the car would be strong at Suzuka.

“We were unlucky in the previous races. At Fuji we had good pace, but we had two punctures, and at Okayama we had an engine issue and we couldn’t qualify.

“Suzuka is one of the toughest tracks in the world, and it’s somewhere where the car balance is super-important. The car was well balanced from the start of practice. After about five laps I could tell the car had the potential to win.

“We had the [GT Entrants’] test at Suzuka just after Fuji, and we tried a lot of different tire constructions with Dunlop.

“After the punctures, they had some new ideas on the construction side, and this was a huge help for the braking stability and traction, which helped the tire degradation.

“I think this was the key for our performance last weekend.”

Asked if he was surprised to get a first win with the new Vantage so soon, especially with D’station having been absent from the grid for the past three seasons, Fujii said: “It’s a new car, but we have a lot of experience in the team, including with the old [Vantage GT3]. We are not beginners; we prepared well before the season.

“We were just unlucky in the first two rounds. It didn’t work out at Okayama and Fuji, but this time everything was perfect.”

Victory puts Fujii and Fagg fourth in the GT300 drivers’ standings, 20 points behind the No. 2 Inging Toyota of Hibiki Taira and Yuui Tsutsumi, who finished second at Suzuka despite carrying the most success ballast in the field.

“Of course we want to try and win the championship,” said Fujii. “Car No. 2 looks strong, and we are 20 points behind, but if we can get more podiums and strong results, the situation could be different at the end of the season.

“This time the BoP helped a lot, but for the next race it could be different. We need to focus on our job, make no mistakes, and work well together with the tire manufacturer.”

Fagg Could Replace Sorensen for Rest of Season

It’s currently unclear whether Aston Martin factory driver Marco Sorensen will partake in any more SUPER GT races this year, the Danish driver having so far only contested the opening round at Okayama.

Fujii clarified that the decision to bring in Fagg, his former teammate from the WEC in 2022, was made when it became clear that Sorensen would be unable to participate in the GTE test at Suzuka due to a clash with the WEC round at Spa.

Although Fagg was originally registered as a third driver, Fujii said he wished to use the Fuji race to evaluate the Briton ahead of the crucial Suzuka test and race, seeing it as one of the best chances to win a race with the new Vantage GT3 Evo.

Victory at Suzuka for D’station means that Sorensen can no longer win the championship in SUPER GT, while Fagg remains eligible as the No. 777 car did not score at Okayama.

Sorensen is also unavailable for two of the five remaining races owing to clashes with the WEC, where he also races for D’station.

Asked therefore whether Fagg could therefore replace Sorensen for the rest of the season, Fujii replied: “Charlie will race at Fuji [Round 4]. Using a different driver all the time in SUPER GT is difficult, because there is so little practice time.

“In SUPER GT, you don’t need a third driver. So maybe Marco will focus fully on WEC, and Charlie will focus on SUPER GT. Both championships are very important to us.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

Click to comment

More in SUPER GT