> Result: Race 1
Haridarma Manoppo and Seita Nonaka have won SRO Motorsports Group’s inaugural standalone Asian GT4 race at Okayama after YZ Racing with BMW M Team Studie’s dominant M4 appeared to run out of fuel within sight of the chequered flag.
Max Orido, whose co-driver Masaki Kano led the opening stint from pole, was 33 seconds clear at the start of the final lap but slowed dramatically just before the last corner. Initially, it was conceivable that Orido was attempting to run down the race clock to avoid another tour, but when the Supra swept around the outside on the start/finish straight it became clear there was a genuine issue.
Orido, who attempted to push his car over the line, was ultimately classified sixth behind podium finishers Masayoshi Oyama and Ryohei Sakaguchi (Akiland Racing) and Yuko Suzuki and Masataka Inoue (CREF Motor Sport).
With the BMW cruising to victory, Naohiko Otsuka and Sho Kobayashi’s (Checkshop Caymania Racing) overall Fanatec Japan Cup title assault appeared to be over. Instead, they now head into Sunday's season finale 13 points behind Kano and Orido after finishing fourth overall.
But it should have been so different for the BMW’s crew who led every lap – bar the most important one – from pole despite serving the maximum 15-second Success Penalty.
Behind, the podium battle initially raged between D’station’s Aston Martin, which had started second, and TGR Indonesia’s Toyota. Manoppo passed Tatsuya Hoshino on the opening lap but had to defend the place for the first 20 minutes until the Vantage finally re-took the place just before the pitstops.
TGR Indonesia’s hopes appeared to fade when it served the maximum Success Penalty, after which Akiland’s Sakaguchi reeled in and passed Hoshino’s newly installed co-driver Hama Kenji.
Nonaka’s recovering Supra then pushed the Aston Martin down to fourth a few minutes later but was gifted second when Akiland’s Toyota collected a drive-through penalty for pitlane speeding. And that became first in the most unlikely of fashions on the final straight of the last lap.
Sakaguchi fought back to finish second, aided somewhat by the Aston Martin also serving a penalty, while the pace of CREF Motor Sport’s new McLaren was rewarded with third on the Artura’s Asian debut.
GT4’s Fanatec Japan Cup decider goes green at 14:30 JST tomorrow. Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel and across Japan on J Sport’s digital platform.