GT Asia Series’ Japanese invasion begins with Rounds 5 & 6 at the Fuji Speedway Circuit, the first of three race weekends in the land of the rising sun. China’s Peter Li Zhi Cong heads into the weekend on high spirits as he currently leads the Championship from reigning GT Asia Series Champion, Mok Weng Sun.
This is the third time the Series has visited the 4.5km circuit, the first in 2010 but the event was cancelled due to a typhoon that damaged the access to the circuit and its surrounding area. Last year, the Series ran a successful outing where Eddie Yau Jr claimed one win for Asia Racing Team in the Porsche 997 GT3 R whilst Mok Weng Sun took the win in Team Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari F458 GT3.
Mok is one of the two in the top five that has any knowledge of the circuit and his win here last year is still fresh, already giving him an edge over the rest. But Hisao Shigeta is hungry for another win, especially after losing his pole position and subsequently the win to Li at the start of the previous race. Shigeta has proven he has the pace in Direction Racing’s Porsche 997 GT3R, and he has the knowledge of the circuit to his advantage.
But they are not the only ones who have raced there. A strong outing in Sepang has shown that Dilantha Malagamuwa is still very much in the game and the Sri Lankan has called Japan his home for many years, it is where his racing career began.
Then there are the Ford GT drivers from Craft Eurasia Racing Hong Kong, Samson Chan currently lies sixth on the points table while Frank Yu who has had a very mixed outing so far lies eighth. His best finish so far is fourth and for sure the driver is looking to erase the memory of his Round 4 race, where he was disqualified from the race for ignoring a stop-go penalty.
Expect a good drive also from Team Clearwater Racing’s David Lai, who has been consistent throughout the season until a Round 4 incident with the Audi of Marchy and Jeffrey Lee at the start of the race, causing an end to Lai’s race. The Singaporean currently lies ninth on the points table, just two points behind Yu.
Hideki Onda is sure to bring some challenge in his Ferrari F430 to his closest rival Jacky Yeung in the Lamborghini Gallardo GT in the GTM class. The duo always provides interesting battles and it would be great to see where they will place at this difficult flowing circuit.
Meanwhile, the powerhouse duo of Marchy Lee and Jeffrey Lee are looking to reclaim their lead on the points table and will be doing that in the Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Although neither has raced at the circuit before, they are coming into the weekend in high spirits, looking past the bout of bad luck they had in Sepang. But this time they will not be the lone Audi, with Hitotsuyama Racing represented by 2011 World Touring Car Championship Independent Trophy winner and Super Taikyu’s Yukinori Taniguchi.
The Series will also see the addition of two other marquee, BMW Z4 is represented by Field Motorsport with Hiro Nishida in the GT3 class, whilst the Lotus Evora GT4 will make its return with Anthony Chan of TW Racing.
There are other new names to the Series this Season including returning drivers, Keith Chan and Sasha Chu, who will be teaming up in Asia Racing Team’s other Porsche 997 GT3 R.
Modena Motorsports will be marking their return to the Series with two Ferrari F430 GT’s in the GTM class, driven by brothers John and Wayne Shen in car number 16 while Hong Kong native Francis Tjia takes the wheel of number 21.
Hisamori Hayashi will be in the second Porsche 997 GT3R of Direction Racing whilst two GTM class drivers, Taiwanese Clifford Chen will be coming in with his Ferrari F458 Challenge and Hideo Takahashi will drive for Autostara in the Ferrari F430 Challenge.
Fuji Speedway Circuit was built in the early 1960s and hosted the first Formula 1 race in Japan in 1976. The 4.5km circuit is nestled within view of the beautiful Fuji Mountain and is known as a driver’s circuit as it challenges their skills over its 16 turns.