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Weekend Racing Roundup, 6.29

Catch up on the weekend’s sports car action…

Photo: GT Asia Series

Photo: GT Asia Series

GT Asia Series
Rounds three and four of the GT Asia Series took place at the Okayama International Circuit in Japan this weekend. There was drama before the start of race one, when the No. 1 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Gianmaria Bruni and Mok Weng Sun caught fire on the way to the grid. The car was withdrawn from the weekend.

In race one it was Bentley Team Absolute driver Andy Soucek who led into turn one, soon to be followed by the second Bentley of Duncan Tappy. FFF Racing Team by ACM driver Tonio Liuzzi moved into third place before the pit stops. Liuzzi opted to stay out when the Bentley drivers pitted and teammate Hiroshi Hamaguchi rejoined in between the two Continental GT3s.

That soon became first place when Jeffrey Lee was given a penalty for speeding in the pit. The Bentley drivers failed to take a podium finish, with Singha Motorsport drivers Carlo van Dam and Piti Bhirom Bhakdi taking second place.

Race two was red flagged on the opening lap after a technical issue with the timing, but once it really go underway Adderly Fong led into turn one, ahead of Jonathan Venter. Jeffrey Lee and Lamborghini driver Dilantha Malagamuwa collided, which meant both cars retired and resulted in a safety car period.

After the green flag was shown again teams came in for their mandatory stops with Fong being the last one to pit. Teammate Keita Sawa took over and rejoined in front of Darryl O’Young. O’Young challenged Sawa, but the Bentley driver won the race, with O’Young allowing Richard Lyons to take second place. Carlo van Dam caught the top five cars towards the end, but ran out of time to make a move.

Race 1 – 1. FFF Racing Team by ACM (Liuzzi/Hamaguchi) McLaren, 2. Singha Motorsport (Van Dam/Bhirom Bhakdi) Ferrari, 3. BBT Team (Rizzo/Liu) Ferrari.

Race 2 – 1. Bentley Team Absolute (Fong/Sawa) Bentley, 2. Craft-Bamboo Racing (Yu/Lyons) Aston Martin, 3. Craft-Bamboo Racing (O’Young/Venter) Aston Martin.

Photo: Italian GT Championship

Photo: Italian GT Championship

Italian GT Championship
Round three of the Italian GT Championship was held at Imola this weekend and no fewer than 39 teams were racing at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari

Ombra Racing drivers Alex Frassineti and Matteo Beretta won the first round of the weekend, taking the lead of the race after the compulsory pit stops. The Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Frassineti was third after the opening lap, but Frassineti overtook the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 of Thomas Biagi on lap 10 before handing over to Beretta. After all the teams made their stop Beretta was leading the race and the Italian went on to win the race by 7.376 seconds.

BMS Scuderia Italia managed to win race two on Sunday. Mirko Venturi was second behind Daniel Mancinelli during his stint and when the pit window opened the Racing Studios McLaren had a small advantage over Venturi. Mancinelli’s teammate Ferdinando Geri left the pit ahead of Luigi Lucchini, but the BMS Scuderia Italia driver passed him on lap 18. Nicola Schiro fought for second place, but was unable to catch Lucchini in the end.

Race 1 – 1. Ombra Racing (Frassineti/Beretta) Ferrari, 2. Audi Sport Italia (Capello/Zonzini) Audi, 3. Scuderia Baldini 27 (Case/Gattuso) Ferrari.

Race 2 – 1. BMS Scuderia Italia (Lucchini/Venturi) Ferrari, 2. Scuderia Villorba Corse (Schiro/Berton) Ferrari, 3. Audi Sport Italia (Amici/Mapelli) Audi.

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites
Kenton Koch won Rounds 5 and 6 of the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites at Watkins Glen International, for his second consecutive weekend sweep and fourth and fifth wins of the season.

Koch led flag-to-flag in the 14-lap, 30-minute Friday race, run under sunny and clear skies but still with two cautions for four laps interrupting the flow of the race. The JDC driver led home Performance Tech Motorsports drivers Robert Alon and Austin Versteeg, both of whom scored season-best finishes.

Saturday’s 45-minute second race meanwhile was, like the second race at NOLA, rain-affected with conditions worsening as the race progressed. Several spins occurred just after the start and the race was red flagged to allow the drivers to switch onto rain tires. Even after the tire switch there were still several more incidents, and the race ended under caution when L2 class driver John Salmon got stuck in the gravel at Turn 8 with less than three minutes remaining. All told, Koch led flag-to-flag again in the 11-lap race, which was interrupted by the red and two other cautions.

Race 1 — 1. JDC Motorsports (Kenton Koch), 2. Performance Tech Motorsports (Robert Alon), 3. Performance Tech Motorsports (Austin Versteeg)

Race 2 — 1. JDC Motorsports (Kenton Koch), 2. JDC Motorsports (Clark Toppe), 3. Extreme Speed Motorsports (McKay Snow)

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
After a calm, serene and warm Sebring season opener in March, it appears as though IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA can’t buy a break with weather in the 2015 season.

The weekend at Watkins Glen International was meant to be a three-race event, featuring the postponed Round 4 from NOLA Motorsports Park back on April12. However, unsuitable racing conditions caused by heavy, persistent rain forced IMSA officials, after consultation with race teams, to abandon the rescheduled race. IMSA will evaluate further consideration for replacement of this round.

In the two races that did occur, series returnee Angel Benitez Jr. completed a weekend sweep, first in dry and sunny conditions on Friday and then in a rain-shortened, wet race Saturday morning. Benitez won at Watkins Glen in 2013, lost out to Colin Thompson in dramatic fashion last year, then rebounded this weekend.

On Friday, Benitez led the 22-lap race flag-to-flag and beat Jesse Lazare by 0.521 of a second, with Elliott Skeer third. On Saturday, Benitez took the lead from Skeer on Lap 2, then won under caution at the end of Lap 10 when the race was shortened from 45 minutes to 30. Andrew Longe finished second with Kasey Kuhlman third.

Race 1 — 1. JDX Racing (Angel Benitez Jr.), 2. Kelly-Moss Motorsports (Jesse Lazare), 3. Wright Motorsports (Elliott Skeer)

Race 2 — 1. JDX Racing (Angel Benitez Jr.), 2. Fall-Line Motorsports (Andrew Longe), 3. Wright Motorsports (Kasey Kuhlman)

Tony DiZinno contributed to this report

Marcel ten Caat (@marceltencaat) is a contributor to Sportscar365 and other publications including

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