Lind, Kodric win race two in Suzuka
Martin Kodric and Dennis Lind extended their Blancpain GT Series Asia championship lead by claiming their first victory with FFF Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in Suzuka’s second race. The duo took advantage of an incident involving HubAuto’s Leo Ye Hongli who pitted from the lead by mistake at the third and final Safety Car restart.
Edoardo Liberati and Florian Strauss came through from 15th to second in their KCMG’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, Third place for Markus Pommer and Patric Niederhauser’s GruppeM Mercedes-AMG.
The consistency of three podiums had helped Lind and Kodric top the GT3 standings prior to round six, but the duo finally broke their victory duck in the 60-minute race two to extend their overall advantage at 2018’s halfway mark. However, their win also owed much to the woes of HubAuto Corsa whose two Ferraris controlled the opening stint. Nick Foster was particularly impressive out front after leading away from pole, managing an early Safety Car period and then establishing a small but comfortable advantage over team-mate Tim Slade.
That was until the #28 Ferrari collided with Daniel Au’s GT4 McLaren at the final chicane, which put both entries out on the spot and necessitated a second Safety Car period that coincided with the pit window opening. At that point Foster led GruppeM’s Raffaele Marciello, FFF Racing’s two Lamborghinis of Marco Mapelli and Kodric, plus Niederhauser in the second Mercedes-AMG. Foster’s co-driver Ye Hongli duly emerged in the lead, while Lind’s 5s pitstop success penalty was sufficient to drop the Huracan behind Pommer, who moved up to fourth.
The new top-five also featured two Am drivers – Alexander Mattschull and Hiroshi Hamaguchi – who played their part in the final outcome. Pommer’s desperate attempts to overtake the Japanese opened the door for Lind to pass both drivers on the same lap before also relieving Mattschull of second and setting off after Ye Hongli.
2.4s separated the top-two when the day’s final Safety Car period – the result of Martin Rump beaching his Audi when Juwon Seo made contact – had the biggest impact of all. When the race went green Ye Hongli’s Ferrari was nowhere to be seen after the Chinese driver followed the Safety Car into the pits. Instead, it was Lind who exited the final corner with clear track ahead of him before going on to claim victory by 2s.
Behind, KCMG’s Liberati and Strauss fought through from 15th on the grid to take their second podium in three races. Strauss drove a clean opening stint amongst the hustle and bustle of the midfield and made up a couple of places before pitting. Liberati then emerged in seventh and used the remaining 30 minutes to move further forwards by passing Pommer, Hamaguchi, Mattschull and Seo.
Pommer finally found a way past FFF Racing’s Hamaguchi who drove brilliantly on home soil against the professionals to claim Pro/Am honours and fourth overall with Mapelli. Shae Davies and Sandy Stuvik made up five places between them en route to fifth aboard their Craft-Bamboo Porsche, which finished ahead of Mattschull/Marciello, Mitch Gilbert/Aditya Patel’s OD Racing Team WRT Audi (which started 20th), and Shaun Thong/Alex Yoong who served an early drive-through penalty for jumping the start. Their eighth place came at the expense of Absolute Racing’s #37 Audi, which was penalised 30s post-race for contact with Indigo Racing’s #97 Mercedes-AMG.
Am Cup honours went to ARN Racing’s Hideki Nagai and Shinji Takei who became the first crew to beat KCMG’s Naoto Takeda and Takuya Shirasaka this season.
The GruppeM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG of Reinhold Renger and Ryuichirou Ohtsuka took the GT4 win ahead of Ringo Chong and Gilles Vannelet’s Team iRace Mercedes-AMG, with Craft-Bamboo’s Frank Yu and Jean Marc Merlin completing the podium.