Kovalainen, Nakayama Get Off the Mark at Fuji
Heikki Kovalainen and Yuichi Nakayama earned their first win of the Super GT season while fellow Toyota drivers Sho Tsuboi and Kazuya Oshima moved into the championship lead in the 300km race at Fuji Speedway.
Nakayama brought the No. 39 Team SARD Toyota GR Supra to the checkered flag 10.2 seconds ahead of Tsuboi who charged through the top five in the second stint.
Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fuzukumi completed the podium in their ARTA Honda NS-X GT, while Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi relinquished their points lead in 10th.
Eventual winner Kovalainen started Sunday’s race, which was held with full spectator access, from fifth on the grid but had moved up to third by the opening of the pit window.
Fukuzumi paced the opening stint from Kondo Racing Nissan driver Mitsunori Takaboshi, but a quick service from the SARD mechanics brought Nakayama out between the pair.
Nakayama then closed down and overtook Nojiri before leading the rest of the 66-lap contest.
The Kondo Nissan hit mechanical trouble later on, forcing it out of contention, while Tsuboi made several key moves up the order including overtakes in quick succession on the Hondas of Ryo Hirakawa and Nojiri to establish a Toyota one-two.
In the GT300 class, Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami triumphed in their Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 to become the fifth different winners in as many races this season.
RESULTS: Fuji 300km
Sachsenring Produces Surprise Winners
Two pairings outside the top 10 in the ADAC GT Masters championship came through to take unexpected wins at the Sachsenring, while Kelvin van der Linde and Patric Niederhauser fought to maintain their lead in the title race.
Marvin Dienst and Philipp Frommenwiler claimed victory in Race 1 with their pre-Evo Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Schuetz Motorsport, before Markus Pommer and Jeffrey Schmidt prevailed in Race 2 for the Callaway Competition Corvette team.
Dienst started Saturday’s 60-minute contest from pole and controlled the opening stint, while Robert Renauer slotted into second as fellow Porsche 911 GT3 R driver Michael Ammermueller dropped from the front row to seventh on the opening lap.
Dienst stayed ahead through the pit cycle and handed over without issues to Frommenwiler, who brought home Schuetz Motorsport’s first GT Masters win in five years.
Renauer’s co-driver Sven Mueller finished second after resisting pressure from Stolz, who along with Engel vaulted into the championship lead.
However, the Toksport WRT duo’s points advantage didn’t last for long as a mechanical problem on their Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo dumped Engel out of the lead in Race 2.
Engel made a strong getaway, running clear of the midfield carnage that prompted an early safety car period, and was leading by around five seconds from GRT Grasser Racing’s Albert Costa when he skidded into the Turn 3 gravel near the end of the opening stint.
This handed the lead to Costa, whose co-driver Perera brought the GRT Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo to the checkered flag first, only for a 30-second penalty to be applied for an infringement during the safety car.
Pommer and Schmidt were therefore granted their first win of the season in the Callaway-prepared Corvette C7 GT3-R, ahead of Team WRT’s Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts and HCB-Rutronik Racing’s van der Linde and Niederhauser who regained their points edge.
McLaren, Lambo Crews Win at Soaking Snetterton
Jordan Witt and Jack Mitchell became the seventh different winners of this year’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship in Race 1 at a wet Snetterton, while Adam Balon and Phil Keen became the season’s first repeat victors in Race 2.
Witt and Mitchell won the first of Sunday’s two 60-minute races from third on the grid in their 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3.
After a safety car start, Witt soon worked his way past Rob Collard and pole man Sam de Haan into the lead, while Lewis Proctor set Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren in second.
This order held through the driver swaps as Mitchell slowly increased the gap over Ollie Wilkinson, who was coming under pressure from Collard’s co-driver Sandy Mitchell.
A charging stint from the latter Mitchell resulted in the Lamborghini GT3 Junior making a perfectly-timed bid for second place on the final lap, as he pipped Wilkinson at the line by eight-hundredths of a second.
In Race 2, Mitchell started from pole for Barwell but it was his teammate Keen who had the most traction going through Riches on the opening lap.
Keen paced the first stint from Mitchell, RAM Racing’s Yelmer Buurman and WPI Motorsport’s Andrea Caldarelli, while the leader’s grip on the race was strengthened during the pit stops as Mitchell and Collard encountered a seat belt issue that cost them time.
This gave Balon a clear run to the flag, while Michael Igoe slotted WPI’s Lamborghini into second after passing Buurman’s co-driver Ian Loggie, who ended up fourth.
RAM Racing duo De Haan and Patrick Kujala, who finished third in Race 2, will carry a six-point lead over Collard and Mitchell into the Silverstone season finale next month.
The GT4 winners at Snetterton were TF Sport’s Daniel Vaughan and Jamie Caroline, and HHC Motorsport’s Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen.
Herbert, Gonzalez Take TC America Wins at Indy
Tristan Herbert and Victor Gonzalez each collected wins in TCR competition in the final two rounds of the TC America season, held last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Herbert, the motorsports manager for Audi Sport customer racing North America, held off CJ Moses for top honors in Friday’s Race 1 of the weekend following a heavy weekend-ending accident between Scott Smithson and Tim Lewis Jr.
Smithson plowed into the No. 5 KMW Motorsports w/ TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR after locking up the brakes of his DXDT Racing Honda Civic Type-R heading into Turn 1.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, triumphed over Herbert in Race 2 on Saturday, claiming victory in his VCMG Honda TCR by more than 10 seconds.
Tyler Maxson, who clinched the TCR drivers’ title two weekends ago, recorded a pair of retirements after an accident in Race 1 and a mechanical issue for his Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR in Race 2.
LA Honda World Racing’s Mat Pombo, meanwhile, swept both races in TC although it wasn’t enough to deny James Clay the class title in his BimmerWorld BMW M240iR Cup car.
Kevin Boehm (Honda Civic Si) and Eric Powell (Subaru BRZ tS) picked up TCA class wins on the weekend, with the title going to Boehm.
Other Weekend Action
***The Italian GT Championship Sprint season continued with round two at Mugello, where Audi and Mercedes-AMG crews shared out the wins. Audi pairing Mattia Drudi and Riccardo Agostini succeeded in Race 1 (pictured) while Lorenzo Ferrari and Loris Spinelli won Race 2 for AKM Motorsport. Lamborghinis finished second and third on both occasions.
***ADAC GT4 Germany held its third round of the season at the Sachsenring, where Zakspeed won on its series debut. The experienced GT outfit took victory in Race 1 courtesy of Hendrik Still and 17-year-old Jan Marschalkowski, before a different Mercedes crew took Race 2. Julien Apotheloz and Luca Trefz won for HTP-Winward Motorsport to extend their points lead.
***Fabien Lavergne and Michelin Le Mans Cup front-runner Edouard Cauhaupe won two of the three FFSA French GT races held at Paul Ricard. Their CD Sport Mercedes-AMG’s victories bookended a narrow Race 2 victory for Vincent Beltoise et Rodolphe Wallgren, whose Alpine A110 prevailed in a thrilling conclusion that saw the top three cars cross the line within the same second.
News & Notes
***Meyer Shank Racing broke ground on a new 43,000 square ft workshop in Pataskala, Ohio, last Wednesday. Construction of the new facility, which is to facilitate the growth of MSR’s IMSA and IndyCar programs, is expected to be completed in mid-2021.
***The Audi R8 LMS GT2 made its Chinese debut last Wednesday at the start of a two-month tour of the country’s motorsport market. Following last week’s ‘customer experience session’ at Shanghai International circuit, the SRO GT2-homologated car will visit Zhuhai, Ningbo and Zhejiang for further testing and demonstration laps.
***British GT has confirmed that its season finale, the Silverstone 500 three-hour race, will be held behind closed doors on Nov. 7-8. The decision was made following consultation between circuit management and the UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Silverstone has been closed to trackside spectators since March.
***Motor oil and lubricants producer Motul has been announced as the entitlement sponsor of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 10. The race will be known as the Motul 100% Synthetic Grand Prix.
***Orange 1 FFF Racing Team has confirmed its drivers for the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The team’s technical director Gino Moccia and Lamborghini young driver program advisor Raffaele Giammaria have joined Phil Keen and Hiroshi Hamaguchi in its Pro-Am entry.
***Additionally, Hugo Chevalier, who drives a CMR Bentley in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup, has joined FFF’s Silver Cup crew alongside Baptiste Moulin, Florian Latorre and Taylor Proto.
***The entry list for the penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series at Monza has been released. A total of 34 cars, including 15 LMP2s, are set to tackle the four-hour race this weekend. The No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo is no longer shown in the GTE field.
On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (Charlotte Motor Speedway), European Le Mans Series (Monza), Michelin Le Mans Cup (Monza), GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup (Barcelona), DTM (Zolder), 24H Series (12H Coppa Florio)
John Dagys contributed to this report.