Fanatec GT Asia: Liu and Picariello take victory in blockbuster second race at Fuji

Fanatec GT Asia: Liu and Picariello take victory in blockbuster second race at Fuji

> Reigning champion back on top at half-distance
> Absolute Porsche beats Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG and FAW Audi Sport Asia
> Result: Fuji Race 2

Anthony Liu and Alessio Picariello won an action-packed second race at Fuji to end the first half of this year’s campaign on top of the overall Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS standings.

Absolute Racing’s #1 Porsche prevailed for the first time this season thanks to Liu who passed Cao Qi moments before a Full Course Yellow period all-but settled the race. The action beforehand suggested the battle would otherwise have raged until the chequered flag.

Cao, sharing Craft-Bamboo’s #30 Mercedes-AMG with Maro Engel this weekend, withstood severe pressure from Franky Cheng to finish second at a gloomy Speedway where the fog that threatened to delay the start remained at a manageable level but ever-present throughout the hour-long race.

Another FCY period just after the pitstops gave FAW Audi Sport Asia’s Silver-crewed R8 an opportunity to pick off the Ams ahead. Cheng – who rejoined in 11th following Adderly Fong’s stint – wasted no time in doing so before the final caution halted his charge just as he was sizing up Liu and Cao.

5ZIGEN’s Nissan driven by Hirobon and Yu Kanamaru won the Silver-Am class, while Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter scored theirs and AMAC’s first Am victory of the season.


Weather conditions prompted Race Control to mandate a second formation lap, and when racing began in earnest it was the fast-starting Jules Gounon who relieved Luca Stolz of first place as the 33-car field thundered in and out of Turn 1. 

Racing was neutralised later on the same lap, however, when Tomonobu Fujii’s spinning Aston Martin was collected by the Porsches of Joel Eriksson and Leo Ye Hongli. All three retired as a result, an outcome that hit Saturday’s winners and erstwhile championship leaders Ye and Bob Yuan particularly hard.

Racing resumed with Gounon pulling clear of Stolz who appeared to be struggling in Triple Eight JMR’s Mercedes-AMG. His factory colleague Engel drafted past down the start-finish straight before a plethora of Porsches driven by Patrick Pilet, Jaxon Evans and Picariello ganged up on the German. Origine and AAS Phantom’s examples both got past before the Pro contingent pitted at the end of the window.

Their Am co-drivers emerged as they had entered with Wang’s Climax Mercedes-AMG leading Cao, Sun JingZu, Lu Wei and Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim.

But the Full Course Yellow period that followed as a consequence of James Yu’s stationary Audi also brought Harmony and FAW’s Silver entries into play. They were 10th and 11th when racing resumed and quickly moved past the Ams ahead.

Cheng was particularly punchy and was chasing Liu and Cao – who dispatched Wang soon after the restart – when debris from Lu’s Porsche prompted a final short FCY. Just half a lap remained when the green flags flew, which was insufficient time for any further meaningful action. 1.5s covered the top three at the finish.

Ibrahim also passed Wang before the chequered flag to rescue a Pro-Am podium from a weekend that promised much but delivered little after twice qualifying on pole. His and Stolz’s Triple Eight JMR Mercedes-AMG finished 0.5s clear of Harmony’s Ferrari shared by Luo Kailuo and Liang Jiatong who, like Cheng, picked off the Bronze drivers over the final 20 minutes.

Wang and Climax’s Mercedes-AMG was right behind in sixth and chased across the line by Lu’s Origine Porsche, which survived contact in the second stint. VSR’s Lamborghinis were eighth and ninth – Zhou Bihuang and Marco Mapelli beating team-mates Bian Ye and Edoardo Liberati – and Phantom’s Porsche rounded out the top 10.

That was one place better than leading Silver-Am crew Hirobon and Kanamaru who enjoyed a great scrap with class rivals Absolute Corse after the pitstops.

And AMAC’s Porsche was an excellent 12th overall in the hands of Macpherson and Porter who trimmed their class rival David Tjiptobiantoro’s advantage to 14 points.

Next up it’s Suzuka, which hosts another SRO GT PowerTour event in just two weeks (July 5-7). Liu and Picariello head there with a two-point advantage over Yuan and Ye, while Lu – who scored just six points this weekend – has slipped from first to third.