An intense yet spectacular race concluded the third round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, held on the Suzuka circuit in Japan. The two Ferrari crews were in the thick of the action, particularly HubAuto Corsa’s 488 GT3 which came close to overall victory.
Haryanto comes back. After qualifying, Andre Heimgartner started out from seventh place while Rio Haryanto set off from eighteenth. As the race got underway, contact between several front-runners allowed the New Zealander to leap three places, while Haryanto began a gradual ascent through the standings, which saw him climb as high as twelfth spot. The Indonesian driver, delaying the obligatory pit stop as late as possible, and taking advantage of the other crew’s driver changes, even made it as high as second position. The driver changes were carried out respectively at 30 minutes, with Yuya Sakamoto sitting in for Heimgartner, and 25 minutes from the chequered flag, with Gregory Teo taking the wheel from Haryanto in the T2 Motorsport Ferrari. After the window for the mandatory stops closed, the Safety Car was deployed on track, allowing the field to re-bunch and the standings to get re-ordered. Sakamoto now found himself in third place, while Teo held twelfth.
Final assault. As the race restarted, the Safety Car was again called out onto the track while a stationary Lamborghini was removed from the side of the course. With five minutes left to run, the green flag re-ignited the hostilities, with Sakamoto storming up to second place. The Japanese driver managed to get the better of Inthraphuvasak moving into the rooster tail of race-leader Lee at the wheel of the Mercedes. The HubAuto Corsa driver made an overtaking bid at the final chicane with one lap to go, but went marginally wide and ended up cutting the corner. To avoid picking up a penalty, Sakamoto conceded the position, but in doing so, slowed down only to get overtaken by the Porsches of Panther/AAS Motorsport and Absolute Racing. At the centre of the pack, amid the excitement of the final stretches, Teo had dropped several positions to take sixteenth place as the chequered flag fell, eighth in the Pro-Am class. Sakamoto, meanwhile, posted fourth overall, second in the Silver class, behind the new leaders in the standings, Tanart Sathienthirakul and Philip Hamprecht.
Next date. The Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia will remain in Japan where the fourth round of the season is to be held on 6th and 7th July at Fuji Speedway.