The last weekend of August and once again a Sportscar365 Weekend Racing Roundup with action from all over the world. In Europe the Sachsenring and Magny-Cours hosted rounds of the national GT3 championships, while in Japan the 44th Suzuka 1000KM race was held. In the US the Mazda MX-5 Cup cars raced at Road America, while the IMSA Lites teams competed at Virginia International Raceway.
ADAC GT Masters
BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert dominated the first race of the ADAC GT Masters at Sachsenring this weekend. Pole-sitter Claudia Hürtgen kept teammate Dominik Baumann at bay and had developed a seven-second lead when the pit window opened. Uwe Alzen took over from Hürtgen and retained the lead, but Jens Klingmann closed the gap and passed Alzen three minutes from the end. At the finish the gap between the two drivers was just a tenth of a second.
In race two the BMWs were unable to match the pace of the frontrunners. Klaus Bachler (Porsche) led the race from Fabian Hamprecht (Bentley), but a longer stint by Kelvin van der Linde and a quick stop by the C. Abt Racing Team meant Stefan Wackerbauer was able to take the lead. Clemens Schmid attacked Wackerbauer, but the Bentley driver was unable to pass the Audi.
Race 1 – 1. BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert (D. Baumann/J. Klingmann) BMW, 2. BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert (C. Hürtgen/U. Alzen), 3. Callaway Competition (A. Wirth/D. Keilwitz) Corvette.
Race 2 – 1. C. Abt Racing Team (K. van der Linde/S. Wackerbauer) Audi, 2. Bentley Team HTP (F. Hamprecht/C. Schmid) Bentley, 3. GW IT Racing Team Schütz (K. Bachler/M. Ragginger) Porsche.
Super GT (GT500)
Round five of the Super GT series, the 44th Suzuka 1000KM, was held this weekend and was won by the No. 36 Petronas TOM’s Lexus RC F of Daisuke Ito and James Rossiter.
Honda drivers Bertrand Baguette, Takashi Kogure and Nissan driver Ronnie Quintarelli battled for the lead on the opening laps, but once Kogure had taken the lead he pulled away from his rivals. The first round of pit stops caused a reshuffle, with the No. 15 Drago Modulo NSX dropping to third and the No. 36 Lexus taking second place, behind the No. 100 Raybrig Honda NSX.
Conditions began to improve and by the time the second round of pit stops started, teams began to switch to dry tires. During the second round of stops a GT300 car crashed, bringing out the safety car. After it had returned to the pits and all teams had completed their stops the No. 36 Petronas TOM’s Lexus had taken the lead. The Ito/Rossiter car rapidly pulled away and finished the race with a lead of 1 minute and 25 seconds.
Race – 1. Petronas TOM’s (D. Ito/J. Rossiter) Lexus, 2. Zent Cerumo (Y. Tachikawa/H. Ishiura) Lexus, 3. Calsonic Impul (H. Yasuda/JPL De Oliveira) Nissan.
Super GT (GT300)
Nissan drivers Katsumasa Chiyo, Andre Couto and Ryutaro Tomita won the GT300 class in this weekend’s Suzuka 1000KM. The No. 10 Gainer Tanax Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 won its second race of the season in difficult weather conditions.
The No. 2 Syntium Apple Lotus of Hiroki Kato led the race in the early stages and by the time of the first round of pit stops it was 20 seconds clear of the second placed No. 88 Manepa Lamborghini Gallardo. After the stops the No. 61 Subaru BRZ and No. 31 Toyota Prius got into the fight for the lead with the Lotus, until that was hit with a 90-second pit stop penalty.
During the third round of pit stops the No. 61 Subaru took the lead, but once it pitted the No. 10 Nissan GT-R, which had dropped to the back of the field in the first round of stops, moved into the lead after rapidly coming through the field. When all the teams had completed their stops Chiyo led from Jorg Muller in the No. 7 Studie BMW Z4 GT3. In the final laps the German closed the gap to his Japanese rival, but he was unable to pass the Nissan.
Race – 1. Gainer Tanax (A. Couto/K. Chiyo/R. Tomita) Nissan, 2. Studie (J. Muller/S. Ara) BMW, 3. Subaru BRZ R&D Sport (T. Iguchi/H. Yamauchi) Subaru.
IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites
Kenton Koch can add IMSA Cooper Tire Prototype Lites series champion to his resume, with the 21-year-old Californian clinching the Lites 1 title this past weekend at Virginia International Raceway. He won last year’s Mazda MX-5 Cup title and the Skip Barber class in MX-5 the year prior to that.
The Prototype Lites series was moved to a week later than the primary IMSA weekend at VIR held a week earlier, owing in part to a GT-only focus last week and also to provide NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East with additional content at the track.
Regardless of whatever series Koch was racing alongside, he kept winning, as he has for most of the season. He scored his ninth win of the year in 11 starts in Round 11, then came home third in Round 12. JDC Motorsports teammate Clark Toppe scored the other win of the weekend, for his third of the year.
Koch needed to leave VIR with a 40-point lead to secure the title and left 52 clear of his fellow young, tall teammate, Toppe. It was a banner weekend for JDC, which swept the podium in both races, for the John Church-led team’s fourth and fifth podium sweeps in 12 races this season.
Race 1 — 1. JDC Motorsports (Kenton Koch), 2. JDC Motorsports (Clark Toppe), 3. JDC Motorsports (Matt McMurry)
Race 2 — 1. JDC Motorsports (Clark Toppe), 2. JDC Motorsports (Matt McMurry), 3. JDC Motorsports (Kenton Koch)
Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup
The battle between Sick Sideways Racing and Atlanta Motorsports Group continued in the Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup championship as the series headed to Road America this weekend, racing alongside the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Trans-Am series.
Sick Sideways’ John Dean II scored his third win of the season (Round 2, Sebring and Round 5, Mazda Raceway), leading all but one of 14 laps, from AMG teammates Patrick Gallagher and Peter Portante in the first of two races. An accident for Ara Malkhassian caused Friday’s 45-minute race to end under caution.
A Cinderella story occurred in Saturday’s second race of the weekend, Round 10, as Mazda salesman Danny Bender scored his first career win after starting 12th, but gambling to run BF Goodrich slick tires on a wet track surface. The race restarted on Lap 6 following five laps of yellow flag conditions due to fog and low visibility. Gallagher and Dean finished second and third. Heading to Road Atlanta for the season finale in a month, Dean leads Gallagher by just seven points, 540-533.
Race 1 — 1. Sick Sideways Racing (John Dean II), 2. Atlanta Motorsports Group (Patrick Gallagher), 3. Atlanta Motorsports Group (Peter Portante)
Race 2 — 1. ModSpace Racing (Danny Bender), 2. Atlanta Motorsports Group (Patrick Gallagher), 3. Sick Sideways Racing (John Dean II)
Championnat de France FFSA GT
The French GT championship got back on track at Magny-Cours this weekend. On Saturday IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche drivers Raymond Narac, Olivier Pernaut and Sébastien Dumez claimed victory in the opening race of the weekend. Pernaut led from the start until the first round of pit stops, where Narac took over and increased the lead. Dumez drove the car across the line to take the team’s second win of the season.
Pole-sitter Mike Parisy was able to keep the lead at the start of race two and the Sébastien Loeb Racing driver battled with Dino Lunardi throughout the opening stint. Gaillard took over from Parisy, but he was unable to maintain his lead and subsequently dropped down to third. David Hallyday, however, passed Philippe Giauque for second place with 25 minutes to go and then overtook Romain Brandela to take back the lead with just under 20 minutes to go.
Race 1 – 1. IMSA Performance Matmut (O. Pernaut/R. Narac/S. Dumez) Porsche, 2. Sport Garage (S. Lemeret/E. Cayrolle/A. Santamato) Ferrari, 3. Sébastien Loeb Racing (C. Hamon/C. Bottemanne/L. Martins) Audi.
Race 2 – 1. Sébastien Loeb Racing (D. Hallyday/P. Gaillard/M. Parisy) Audi, 2. Duqueine Engineering (R. Brandela/D. Lunardi/B. Strazzer) Ferrari, 3. Team AKKA ASP (P. Giauque/JL. Beaubelique/M. Moullin-Traffort) Ferrari.