> #37 Mercedes-AMG completes ‘Grand Slam’ en route to second win of 2023
> Kano and Orido double up in GT4
> Result: Suzuka Race 2
A perfect performance from Anthony Liu and Dani Juncadella helped Craft-Bamboo Racing score its second Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS victory of the season in Suzuka’s second race.
While Juncadella claimed pole and fastest lap, it was Liu who ensured the #37 Mercedes-AMG also led every lap en route to a dominant 9.2s victory over fellow championship contenders Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim and Luca Stolz (Triple Eight JMR).
Third place changed hands on the final lap when the R&B Racing Porsche of Lu Wei passed Zhou Bihuang’s Climax Racing Mercedes-AMG.
Yuan Bo took over R&B’s second Porsche from Leo Ye Hongli in 13th but steadily climbed the order to finish fifth overall, which was also enough to score maximum Silver Cup and Fanatec China Cup points.
The Fanatec Japan Cup class winners – D’station’s Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii – were right behind in sixth, while AMAC Motorsport’s Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter recovered from an early drive-through penalty to win the Am class.
Akiland Racing’s Toyota initially led the GT4 class from pole but was side-lined by an issue early on. That allowed YZ Racing with BMW M Team Studie’s Masaki Kano and Max Orido to claim their second win of the weekend and also take the championship lead.
CRAFT-BAMBOO LEADS MERCEDES-AMG 1-2
Craft-Bamboo might well have won Fuji’s second race had Juncadella not been punted out of the lead after starting on pole. Fortunately, the team nor driver had long to wait for another opportunity to stand on Fanatec GT Asia’s top step.
The Spaniard maintained position at the start from his factory colleagues Stolz and Maximilian Goetz, as well as Patrick Pilet in R&B’s Porsche who managed to hang with the Mercedes-AMG trio up until the driver changes.
In truth, the opening stint was largely uneventful. Juncadella set fastest lap and was roughly three seconds clear of Stolz when both handed over to their respective co-drivers towards the end of the 10-minute pit window. The gap then initially fluctuated between two and four seconds before Liu began steadily edging clear of Ibrahim who was under no pressure from behind. Indeed, the Prince finished 20 seconds clear of the car in third.
That was partly due to Goetz’s co-driver Jeffrey Lee losing ground after the stops before Chinese duo Zhou and Lu passed Craft-Bamboo’s second Mercedes-AMG.
Lu actually jumped up to third immediately after replacing Pilet before dropping down to fifth when he spun almost halfway through the second stint. He was able to re-pass Lee soon after but couldn’t find a way by Zhou until the final lap when the Climax driver chose the wrong route around a GT4 car.
R&B’s other 911 also had its elbows out in the second stint. Yuan’s Silver status meant he was always likely to make progress against a predominantly Am field, and so it proved en route to fifth.
D’station’s Aston Martin started 13th and enjoyed an excellent run to sixth after battling with KCMG’s Honda in the first stint. But that performance was overshadowed by Absolute Racing’s Bao Jinlong and Alex Imperatori who finished just 0.3s adrift despite lining up 18th.
Absolute Racing’s Andrew Haryanto and James Yu added eighth place to their fourth from Saturday, while yesterday’s winners Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak and Klaus Bachler did well to finish ninth after serving the maximum 15-second Success Penalty.
PLUS with BMW M Team Studie’s Tomohide Yamaguchi and Seiji Ara completed the top-10 despite taking a trip through Degner 1’s gravel trap. The same incident, which also involved Lee’s Mercedes-AMG, resulted in 5ZIGEN’s Nissan hitting the wall and sustaining damage that will prevent it from racing next weekend at Motegi.