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Japan Wins Quali Race 2; Poland on Pole for Medal Contest

Hamaguchi, Sasahara win from pole in a rainy second qualifying race at Vallelunga…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts

Japan took a convincing Qualifying Race 2 victory in wet conditions at Vallelunga while Poland claimed pole for Sunday’s FIA Motorsport Games GT Cup medal race.

Ukyo Sasahara and Hiroshi Hamaguchi won from the front of the grid in their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, despite an early attack from the France Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Jim Pla swept around the outside of Sasahara into Turn 10 on the opening green flag lap which came after 10 minutes behind the safety car because of heavy rain.

After a limited green spell, the race was then neutralized under a red flag as conditions worsened and was not restarted for just over an hour.

All teams changed drivers under the lengthy stoppage, leaving Jean-Luc Beabelique in the lead with Hamaguchi in second and Swiss driver Christoph Lenz in third.

The race returned to green flag conditions with 22 minutes left on the clock, while Hamaguchi passed Beaubelique with 17 and a half minutes remaining to seize control.

The French Mercedes then slid down the order with Beaubelique crossing the line in eleventh, while Lenz assumed second but was quickly caught and dispatched by Hans Lin at the wheel of the Chinese Taipei Lamborghini.

Miguel Ramos rose to third in the Portugal Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and eventually worked his way into second with a move on Lin, while Lenz dropped to fifth behind the Belgium Audi of Louis Machiels and Andrzej Lewandowski in the Poland Lamborghini.

Hamaguchi took the checkered flag seven seconds ahead of Ramos, who shared the Portuguese Audi with Henrique Chaves, while Lin and Evan Chen brought Chinese Taipei through in third despite late pressure from Lewandowski.

Belgium’s Machiels and Nico Verdonck completed the top five, while Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak charged up the order after the red flag to promote Thailand’s Porsche 911 GT3 R from 12th to sixth.

The red flag period was primarily caused by the weather, although the cars from Malaysia and Russia had also both exited the circuit, resulting in lost laps for each entry.

The United States Ferrari 488 GT3 of Spencer Pumpelly and Rob Ferriol also hit trouble late in the race when Ferriol was punted into the gravel by the China Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Yaqi Zhang was given a 30-second time penalty for the incident, which relegated the AKKA-ASP operated China car to 17th in the results.

Poland on Pole for Gold Medal Contest

Lewandowski and Artur Janosz’s pair of top-five finishes in the two qualifying races put the Polish team on pole for Sunday afternoon’s gold medal race.

Their Lamborghini, run by Vincenzo Sospiri Racing, was promoted from fourth to third in Race 1 because of a penalty for the Belgium Porsche.

This, combined with their fourth-place result in Race 2, gave Lewandowski and ex-GP3 racer Janosz a total of seven points, the lowest of the 22 nations taking part.

Germany will start second on the grid after Steffen Goerig and Alfred Renauer finished ninth in the second race to complement their victory on Saturday.

Japan qualified third for the gold medal contest with 11 points and will share the second row with Belgium’s Attempto Racing-run Audi, which scored 13.

The United Kingdom’s Chris Froggatt and Flick Haigh tallied 14 points to start fifth, ahead of Denmark’s Christina Nielsen and Jens Reno Moller who scored 15 points.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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