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Weekly Racing Roundup (8.21.23)

Reports from GTWC Asia and GT America plus other racing action and news…

Photo: GTWC Asia

Liu Takes Third Win of Season at Okayama

Anthony Liu took his third win of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS season at Okayama alongside his Mercedes-AMG factory co-driver Daniel Juncadella.

The drivers of the No. 37 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo prevailed in last weekend’s opening 60-minute encounter before taking fourth in Race 2 to give Liu a one-point championship lead over Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak.

The two GTWC Asia title protagonists briefly battled in the starting stint of Race 1 but their dueling was limited by a red flag and a Full Course Yellow period.

At the start, Liu overtook Inthraphuvasak around the outside at Turn 1 and the AAS Motorsport by Absolute Racing Porsche driver also lost second to ‘Hirobon’ in the 5ZIGEN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3.

A red flag was introduced later on the opening lap, after a melee at the first corner that caused the No. 992 Absolute Porsche 911 GT3 R to stop, followed by a heavy crash for R&B Racing’s Yuan Bo a few corners later.

Racing was further impeded by an accident for Andrew Macpherson at Turn 1 that yielded an FCY, and when the action resumed again the pit window had opened.

Liu handed the Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG to Juncadella, who converted the advantage into victory despite pressure from Inthraphuvasak’s co-driver Alessio Picariello after Absolute leapfrogged 5ZIGEN with an undercut pit strategy.

The second race went the way of Maezawa Racing, which claimed its first GTWC Asia win with its Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 driven by Piti Bhirombhakdi and Naoki Yokomizo.

Picariello led from Yokomizo during the opening stint, but the Porsche’s 10-second success penalty meant the Ferrari moved ahead during the driver swaps.

Inthraphuvasak emerged in fourth and dispatched Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim and Jeffrey Lee, but came up 2.5 seconds short of Bhirombhakdi at the checkered flag.

Okayama saw the conclusion of the second edition of the Japan Cup, with Porsche Center Okazaki’s Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura achieving the title with third in Race 2.

RESULTS: Race 1 / Race 2

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO

Kurtz Clamps Down at Road America

George Kurtz swept the GT America powered by AWS round at Road America by beating Memo Gidley in both of the 40-minute single-driver sprint races.

After missing the previous round in Nashville, the CrowdStrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG driver banked 50 points in Wisconsin while Gidley superseded Jason Daskalos at the top of the SRO3 championship standings.

Daskalos got the better of Gidley at the start of Race 1 but he was caught jumping the gun and received a drive-through penalty, after which he retired from the race.

Gidley then set about managing a lead of almost 10 seconds but Kurtz closed the gap on track before the pair were brought together by a caution period caused by GT4 driver Tim Savage spinning into the gravel.

Shortly after the ensuing restart with 10 minutes to go, Kurtz grabbed the lead by carrying momentum down the second straight and out-braking Gidley into Turn 5.

Kurtz then controlled the second race from start to end, keeping Gidley out of reach throughout and finishing 1.9 seconds ahead of his main competitor over the weekend.

The battle for the final podium spot provided greater action as Daskalos overtook Anthony Bartone with seven minutes to go.

GT4 honors went to Flying Lizard Motorsports Aston Martin driver Elias Sabo and Rotek Racing’s Robb Holland, driving a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

RESULTS: Race 1 / Race 2

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

Other Racing Action & News

***Finn Zulauf resisted pressure from two other drivers to win the first ADAC GT4 Germany race at the Lausitzring alongside his W&S Motorsport Porsche co-driver Daniel Gregor. Zulauf was thrust into the lead after Wimmer Werk Motorsport’s front-running Porsche was penalized for undercutting the minimum pit time. Denis Bulatov and Marc de Fulgencio won the second race in their Mercedes-AMG GT4 after contact between the former driver and Zulauf sent the Saturday winner into the gravel. Race 1 / Race 2

***There was drama at the end of the first standalone GTWC Asia GT4 race at Okayama as Manabu Orido’s BMW M4 GT4 ran out of fuel at the end of the last lap, gifting the win to Toyota Gazoo Racing Indonesia’s Haridarma Manoppo and Seita Nonaka. Orido and Masaki Kano then recovered from the heartbreak to seal the Japan Cup GT4 title with victory on Sunday. Race 1 / Race 2

***Chris van der Drift and Marco Giltrap sealed the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia Pro title at South Korea’s Inje Speedium. The Absolute Racing duo won both 50-minute races to establish an unbreakable points lead with two rounds to spare. Van der Drift also won the last Super Trofeo Asia title in 2019.

***United Autosports has brought in GTWC Australia race winner Garnet Patterson and Josh Caygill for a one-off Michelin Le Mans Cup LMP3 pairing in the next round at Aragon. Both members of United’s usual No. 22 entry, Scott Andrews and Gerry Kraut, are unable to make the event due to clashing racing and business commitments respectively.

On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (Virginia International Raceway), European Le Mans Series (Aragon), Super GT (Suzuka)

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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