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Weekly Racing Roundup (3.16.20)

Super GT test report, COVID-19 disruptions and news from the past week…

Photo: Super GT

Honda Fastest in Super GT Test; New Toyotas Sweep Day 2

Honda’s Real Racing entry set the pace in the Super GT pre-season test at Okayama on Saturday and Sunday but the new Toyota GR Supras showed strong pace on the second day.

The quickest time of the two-day test, which was held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was a 1:17.850 set by the No. 17 Honda NSX-GT, shared by Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi.

This lap time was the best of the first day, while the same pairing set the quickest Honda time on Sunday, but only placed fourth in that day’s combined standings.

Three Toyota GR Supras placed ahead of it on Sunday, with the Cerumo cars first and second, ahead of the No. 36 TOM’S entry.

Kazuya Oshima and Sho Tsuboi set the fastest time on Sunday, a 1:18.123, which was good enough to put them second overall throughout the entire test.

A 1:18.409 was the best time achieved by a Nissan GT-R NISMO, the No. 23 NISMO-entered car driven by Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda.

Hiroki Katoh and Masataka Yanagida’s Lotus Evora MC set the pace in GT300, although the Team Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, driven by Shintaro Kawabata and Audi factory driver Christopher Mies, was second quickest with Saturday’s best time.

RESULTS: Day 1; Day 2

Photo: International GT Open

COVID-19 Disruption

***GT Sport has postponed its pre-season test for International GT Open, Euroformula and GT Open Cup Europe, which was set to take place at Paul Ricard on Friday and Saturday this week. It previously canceled the other pre-season test at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya a couple of weeks ago. The first GT Open race is still scheduled for Paul Ricard on April 25-26.

***The Ultimate Cup Series has postponed its season-opener, scheduled at Barcelona for Friday-Sunday this week. Its next scheduled round is at Estoril on April 10-12.

***Virgin Australia Supercars was forced to abandon its second round of the season in Melbourne at the Albert Park circuit as a direct result of the Australian Grand Prix cancelation last weekend. Support category track action for Supercars and a number of other series including Porsche Payce Carrera Cup Australia began on Thursday and Friday morning prior to the scheduled opening Formula 1 practice session, before the Australian Grand Prix Corporation abruptly confirmed the cancelation of the event.

***Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour winners Shane van Gisbergen and his Triple Eight teammate Jamie Whincup secured two of the four pole positions that were on offer but none of Supercars’ scheduled four races took place.

***The series has vowed to make up for the lost Albert Park round, with its six-week winter break in July and August an obvious slot. Postponements or cancelations beyond Albert Park are yet to surface, however the New Zealand round late in April is in jeopardy given the 14-day quarantine measures now in place in both Australia and New Zealand. The upcoming round in Tasmania in early April is believed to still be on at this stage.

***Stock Car Brasil has postponed its ‘doubles race’ at Goiania, which traditionally features international guest drivers sharing cars with full-season drivers, from March 29 to Nov. 22. Due to travel restrictions, it initially announced that guest drivers would not be permitted, but since canceled the race altogether.

***The past week has seen a number of major sports car races and championships disrupted by the global health crisis, including: the 1000 Miles of Sebring and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring; the WEC 6 Hours of Spa; GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS races; NLS races; the European Le Mans Series opener; the Pirelli GT4 America rounds at St. Pete; the Long Beach Grand Prix; and Hankook 12 Hours of Estoril.

Photo: Gruppe C

News & Notes

***Montaplast by Land Motorsport will compete in ADAC GT Masters for the fifth consecutive year, but is yet to announce drivers for its Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo program.

***Formula 2 regular Dorian Boccolacci will drive one of BKK Mobil Oil Team Zakspeed’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos in GT Masters. The Frenchman made some sports car starts with Sainteloc Racing in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS last year. Zakspeed’s other car is set to be shared by Daniel Keilwitz and Jimmy Eriksson.

***YACO Racing has announced its return to GT Masters after a one-year hiatus. The team will field an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo for the Austrian pairing of Simon Reicher, who previously drove for the team in the DMV GTC series, and Norbert Siedler.

***Imperiale Racing has confirmed a central American pairing of Andres Saravia, from Guatemala, and Mexican driver Diego Menchaca for its second Pro class entry in the International GT Open, driving a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. The team’s other car will be shared by Giovanni Venturini and Leonardo Pulcini.

***Marcelo Hahn and Allam Kohdair will return to Teo Martin Motorsport for another shot at GT Open’s Pro-Am title, meanwhile. The Brazilian duo will drive for a second year in a McLaren 720S GT3 after taking four podium finishes last year.

***CMR is the second European team to commit to the new Toyota GR Supra GT4, following Speedworks Motorsport’s British GT effort. The French team will run two Toyotas in the GT4 European Series and FFSA GT GT4 France. It is also competing in GTWC Europe with Bentley Continental GT3s.

***RN Vision STS Racing Team will field a pair of BMW M4 GT4s in the GT4 European Series, including one for series regulars Mark van der Aa and Koen Bogaerts, who move from MDM Motorsport. HHC Motorsport, meanwhile, has confirmed a McLaren 570S GT4 for Aron Taylor-Smith and Mike Robinson.

***IDEC Sport has revealed an updated livery for its European Le Mans Series LMP2 title defense. Paul-Loup Chatin and Paul Lafargue have returned to the French team’s driver lineup, while 2015 Le Mans LMP2 class winner Richard Bradley has replaced Memo Rojas.

***2018 Canadian Touring Car champion Ethan Simioni will step up to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA this year with JDX Racing. Simioni raced in the Canadian Porsche single-make series last year to prepare for his USA campaign with JDX, which finished third in the 2019 standings.

***The widespread cancellation of motorsport events around the world resulted in a surge of interest in sim racing competitions at the weekend. Several sports car regulars got involved in impromptu races between real-world drivers and sim racers, including Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Juncadella, Ross Gunn, Jean-Eric Vergne, Sacha Fenestraz and Charlie Eastwood.

Slade Perrins and Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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