Fenestraz, Miyata Win for First Time at Fuji
TOM’S Toyota drivers Sacha Fenestraz and Ritomo Miyata claimed their first career Super GT top-category win together in the fourth round of the season at Fuji Speedway.
Yuji Kunimoto led away from pole, but his position was short-lived as Kohei Hirate planted his Kondo-run Nissan Z GT500 down the inside of the first corner on lap 3.
Fenestraz also found a way past Kunimoto and his car remained second through the first of two pit stop cycles that took place at approximately one-third distance.
The order remained tight but consistent through the middle part of the race as Hirate’s co-driver Daiki Sasaki kept Miyata at bay through the GT300 traffic, while Giuliano Alesi and Sho Tsuboi’s TOM’S Toyota ran third.
The lead switched around at the second pit visit when TOM’S saved around 10 seconds by keeping Miyata behind the wheel, whereas the Kondo Racing Nissan squad elected to perform a driver change from Sasaki back to Hirate.
Hirate was ultimately shuffled back to third, behind the Impul Nissan shared by Bertrand Baguette and Kazuki Hiramine who finished 7.5 seconds behind the winning Toyota.
Super GT’s second visit to Fuji left Fenestraz and Miyata as the halfway championship leaders, one point ahead of fellow Toyota drivers Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima.
The GT300 class victory went to Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi in the No. 61 Subaru BRZ, six seconds ahead of the Gainer Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 of Hironobu Yasuda and Keishi Ishikawa.
Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami maintained the category points lead by finishing sixth in their Kondo Nissan.
RESULTS: Fuji 450km
Spa Winners Return to Top Step in Germany
One week after winning the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, Jules Gounon and Raffaele Marciello returned to the top step of the podium driving separate cars in the ADAC GT Masters round at the Nürburgring.
Marciello and Maro Engel won the opening 60-minute race in their Mann-Filter Team Landgraf Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, before Gounon and Fabian Schiller combined for victory in the second contest driving for Drago Racing Team ZVO.
Marciello made a strong start to Race 1 by establishing a six-second lead, but that was erased by two safety car periods due to debris on the track.
The Swiss driver stayed out until just before the end of the mandatory pit window, where Engel jumped into the No. 48 Mercedes-AMG and guided it to the checkered flag.
Joel Sturm and Sven Mueller finished second in their Allied-Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R which climbed from seventh on the grid. Sturm made up three positions in the opening stint, before making an early pit stop that gained a further two places.
Marciello and his one-off co-driver Engel were poised to sweep the Nürburgring weekend after Engel commanded the opening stint of the second race, ahead of Gounon and Landgraf Mercedes-AMG driver Frank Bird.
However, a penalty for Marciello after he blocked Schiller in the pit lane caused the Drago Mercedes-AMG to hit the front, where it remained until the end.
Gounon moved ahead of Marciello when the latter drove through the designated ‘penalty zone’ between Turns 1 and 2 on the Nürburgring GP circuit’s short configuration.
Despite missing out on a double win, Marciello came away with a 50-plus points weekend and left the Nürburgring with a 16-point lead over Gounon and Schiller, who in turn moved eight points clear of former leaders Christian Engelhart and Ayhancan Guven.
GTWC Australia Returns at Queensland
Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS returned to action with a pair of 60-minute races at Queensland Raceway that featured two different winners.
Shane van Gisbergen and Prince Jefri Ibrahim prevailed in the opener for Mercedes-AMG squad Triple Eight, before Yasser Shahin and Garth Tander reached the top step of the podium in the second race after taking a brace of poles earlier in the event.
Shahin started Race 1 from the front and stayed there through the opening 20 minutes as several overtakes occurred in the pack behind his The Bend-liveried Audi.
The 20-minute mark saw a safety car interruption after the Supabarn Audi stopped with a mechanical issue, as Shahin defended from fellow Audi driver Liam Talbot and Ibrahim.
The lead changed hands during the pit window, as van Gisbergen emerged ahead of Talbot’s co-driver Fraser Ross and also Tander, whose Audi had dropped to third.
Van Gisbergen checked out for an 11-second margin of victory, while Tander overtook Ross to take the second step on the podium alongside defending champion Shahin.
Tander and Shahin went one better in the second race, which started with Tander leading from pole ahead of David Reynolds, who found a way past van Gisbergen.
Tony Bates assumed the lead after Reynolds pitted, but Shahin restored his car’s earlier advantage before going on to win comfortably. Bates battled with Talbot and ultimately fell back to fourth, behind the Coinspot Audi and Ibrahim’s Mercedes-AMG.
Other Racing Action & News
***GT America powered by AWS held its second street course round of the year as part of the support package for the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville. Onofrio Triarsi took a flag-to-flag victory in Race 1 driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 and was leading the second encounter until his Triarsi Competizione teammate Justin Wetherill made a move under braking just before the halfway point to win. Race 1 / Race 2
***The opening round of the China Endurance Championship season took place at Ningbo. Audi Sport Asia Junior drivers Yu Kuai and Cao Zhuo were classified as the winners after the car that finished first on the road received a post-race time penalty. Results
***The Ningbo meeting also included the second round of the GT Super Sprint Challenge. The podiums for both races were identical, as Uno Racing Team Audi driver ‘Rio’ swept the weekend ahead of Hu Yuqi who twice finished second in a Mercedes-AMG and Li Lichao who took a pair of third places in a Porsche. The next GTSSC event takes place at Zhuhai on Sep. 3-4. Race 1 / Race 2
***Nissan’s annual NISMO festival will return this year after being twice canceled due to coronavirus pandemic measures. The manufacturer’s showcase end-of-season event will take place at Fuji Speedway on Dec. 4.