The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship and Blancpain Endurance Series were all racing this weekend, but there were plenty of drivers available for other series. The German ADAC GT Masters was at Zandvoort for its final trip outside of Germany, Super GT raced at Sportsland Sugo and the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Europe teams joined the Blancpain Endurance Series at the Nürburgring. Additionally, the Porsche GT3 Cup USA raced at Circuit of The Americas. Here’s what happened this weekend.
ADAC GT Masters
The penultimate round of the 2015 ADAC GT Masters season was held at Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands this weekend. The Reiter Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX was strong, but didn’t win a race in the end.
In race one Porsche driver Martin Ragginger started from pole position and led the race until the safety car was deployed. At the restart Ragginger clashed with Tomas Enge, which resulted in a Porsche in the gravel and a Lamborghini in the lead.
The Reiter team then made a mistake in the pits by sending out Jaap van Lagen too soon. Van Lagen served his penalty, but too late and he was subsequently excluded from the results. This handed the lead to Lucas Ludwig and he secured Team Zakspeed’s third win of the season, taking a big step towards the title.
There was more drama in race two on Sunday. BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert driver Dominik Baumann started from pole position and only the two Reiter Lamborghini drivers were able to follow him.
Two laps from the end Enge passed the BMW, but as the Czech had violated the safety car period rules by dropping back at the restart, in order to give Albert von Thurn und Taxis some more space, he was given a penalty and lost the victory. Baumann and Jens Klingmann were declared winners.
Race 1 – 1. Team Zakspeed (Asch/Ludwig) Mercedes, 2. kfzteile24 MS RACING (Basseng/Stoll) Audi, 3. YACO Racing (Frey/Geipel) Audi.
Race 2 – 1. BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert (Baumann/Klingmann) BMW, 2. Reiter Engineering (Catsburg/Von Thurn und Taxis) Lamborghini, 3. C. Abt Racing (Pepper/Thiim) Audi.
Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe
The fifth round of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe was held at the Nürburgring, the final race weekend before the World Finals at Sebring in November.
Bonaldi Motorsport driver Patrick Kujala scored his seventh race win of the season on Saturday, beating the Antonelli Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán of Daniel Zampieri and Roman Mavlanov. Kujala took the lead after race leader Edoardo Liberati retired from the race on the first lap after taking over from Patric Niederhauser.
The 19-year-old Finnish driver went on to take his eighth victory on Sunday and with that result he secured the 2015 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Europe title ahead of the season finale at Sebring in two months time. Zampieri attacked Kujala, but finished in second place.
Race 1 – 1. Bonaldi Motorsport (Kujala), 2. Antonelli Motorsport (Zampieri/Mavlanov), 3. Raton Racing (A. Di Folco)
Race 2 – 1. Bonaldi Motorsport (Kujala), 2. Antonelli Motorsport (Zampieri/Mavlanov), 3. Raton Racing (Liberati/Niederhauser)
Super GT (GT500)
Round six of the 2015 AUTOBACS Super GT series was held at Sportsland Sugo in the Miyagi Prefecture on Sunday. 28
Satoshi Motoyama in the No. 46 S Road Mola GT-R pulled away quickly, with the No. 100 Raybrig NSX Concept-GT of Naoki Yamamoto in second. By lap five the gap between the first two cars was already 15 seconds. Yamamoto briefly lost second in traffic, but was still in second during the first round of pit stops. Takuya Izawa took over from Yamamoto and began to hunt down the GT-R, taking the lead on lap 36.
In traffic the two drivers remained close to each other, with Izawa unable to shake off Masataka Yanagida. Eventually it was the No. 100 Honda that crossed the line in first place, bringing Honda its first win of the 2015 season. The No. 46 Nissan finished in second place, 2.6 seconds behind the race winner.
Race – 1. Raybrig (Yamamoto/Izawa) Honda, 2. S Road Mola (Motoyama/Yanagida) Nissan, 3. D’station Advan (Sasaki/Krumm) Nissan.
Super GT (GT300)
In the GT300 class of the AUTOBACS Super GT series race at Sportsland Sugo it was the No. 25 VivaC Toyota GT86 of Takeshi Tsuchiya and Takamitsu Matsui that won its first race in the championship.
At the start the ARTA CR-Z GT of Shinichi Takagi took the lead, followed by the No. 25 of Matsui. On lap seven Matsui passed Takagi and despite the No. 31 Toyota Prius apr GT of Koki Saga he continued to build up a bigger lead. A smooth pit stop meant Tsuchiya was back in the lead after the last GT300 car had made its stop.
On lap 48 the gap between first and second was 22 seconds already. Nakayama Yuichi tried to catch the leader, but he was unable to catch the VivaC entry, which took its first ever race win. For Tsuchiya it was his first win since 1999, for Matsui his first ever win. It also marked the first ever win for a car using a GTA-developed GT300 mother chassis.
Race – 1. VivaC (Tsuchiya/Matsui) Toyota, 2. apr GT (Saga/Nakayama) Toyota, 3. Gainer Tanax (Hiranaka/Wirdheim) Mercedes.
IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
Angel Benitez Jr. and Elliott Skeer were the two big winners during the second-to-last IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA weekend of the season, at Circuit of The Americas. Benitez swept both races, while Skeer closed on the season-long championship.
In Thursday’s Round 13, Benitez emerged ahead of a three-wide scrap for the lead on the opening lap, and led the remainder of the 45-minute, 19-lap race. He beat Skeer by 3.627 seconds; in another category, Austin native Jeff Mosing clinched both the Gold Cup and Gold Masters Drivers’ Championship with wins in both classes.
In Friday’s Round 14, the final race of the day held before dusk, Benitez won once more after a second consecutive flag-to-flag victory in the 45-minute, 19 lap race. His wins were his fourth and fifth of 2015, tied with Jesse Lazare for the most in the field. Lazare and Skeer rounded out the podium, art 2.837 and 3.071 seconds back, respectively.
Headed to Porsche Rennsport Reunion V next week at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where the season concludes, Skeer leads Lazare by 25 points, 241-216. If Skeer can maintain a gap of 21 points or more, he will clinch the title in the first race of the weekend.
Race 1 — 1. JDX Racing (Angel Benitez Jr.), 2. Wright Motorsports (Elliott Skeer), 3. Wright Motorsports (Michael Schein)
Race 2 — 1. JDX Racing (Angel Benitez Jr.), 2. Kelly-Moss Motorsports (Jesse Lazare), 2. 3. Wright Motorsports (Elliott Skeer)
Tony DiZinno contributed to this report