It will be a packed and interesting race at the Suzuka Circuit this weekend when the GT Asia Series heads over for Rounds 7 & 8 of the 2012 season. Spectators can expect a bumper entry in the GT Master class when 7 new drivers join in for the weekend, making it a more intense battle in the closely fought class.
The legendary Suzuka Circuit will play host for the second time to the GT Asia Series. This year, the Series will join the 2012 Autobacs Super GT Round 5 - 41st International Pokka 1000km and will also be a part of the circuit’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. The celebrations will kick off with a massive fireworks display on Wednesday 15th August.
Among those joining the Suzuka rounds are four new entries from Japan with one entry sending in a driver pair. Direction Racing will have two additional Porsches 997 Cup cars with Porsche Carrera Cup Japan (PCCJ) regulars, Tsukasa Fujita and You Yokomaku, who are sure to give a good challenge to the Series regulars.
Meanwhile Tomei Sports will be represented by Shigeru Terashima also in a Porsche 997 Cup. Terashima has a long history of racing in GT’s, mostly driving in the Ferrari Challenge since 2003, with a season in PCCJ and a few stints in the Super Trofeo.
As for Verde Garage, they are sending in the pairing of Singo Tenma and Kuninari Mori in their Ferrari 430 Challenge. Both Tenma and Mori have relatively little experience in racing but the two gentleman drivers with a few single race experiences under their belt are surely going to make an interesting pair to watch.
Also joining in the race weekend is privateer Hideo Takahashi from Gifu, Japan. Takahashi will be assisted by crew from Autostara and will compete in the Ferrari 430 Challenge in his first ever participation in GT Asia Series.
The Series will also see the return of 2009’s GT4 Asia Cup Champion Christian Chia, taking over driving duties from elder brother Francis Tjia. Also replacing his brother for the weekend is John Shen marking his return to the Series after his terrifying crash in Macau last year. Both John, who is competing in place of Wayne Shen, and Christian are driving identical Modena Motorsports Ferrari 430 GT.
Christian’s close friend, Shim Ching will also return to the Series in Suzuka. Work obligations have kept him away from racing since competing during the Super GT at Sepang International Circuit, he will return as a privateer in the Porsche 997 Cup 3.8.
Series drivers are all really excited to be back for their second Japan race weekend and Hideki Onda, took the opportunity to be in Suzuka early to enjoy the beautiful summer weather.
Leading in points for the GTM class, Onda will head the charge in the GTM class when they head to Suzuka as Eric Lo, who is two points ahead of him on the points table, will not be at the race. The Japanese driver is two points ahead of Taiwanese Steven Chian and Hong Kong driver, Jacky Yeung. Driving in Tunewear Racing’s Ferrari 430 GT, Onda will be looking for better results than the last outing when he suffered from a gearbox failure, ending his race prematurely in Round 6.
Having already tasted his first podium finish at the Fuji Speedway Circuit, Taiwanese driver Clifford Chen is sure to want a repeat performance in Suzuka. But he will have to push hard to claim his first point in the Series this year.
It looks like Anthony Chan have been having a hard time in his Lotus Evora GT4, having yet to claim a single point from the races so far. The Hong Kong driver is competing the weekend in the lone Lotus engineered by TW Racing.
Li Zhi Cong of Asia Racing Team heads into the Suzuka weekend as the Overall GT Asia Series Championship leader after claiming five podium finishes from the six races so far in his Porsche 997 GT3R amassing a total of 88 points. His closest rival, Mok Weng Sun is 14 points behind him in Team Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari 458 GT3.
There will be a driver change in the Audi R8 LMS Ultra, with Marchy Lee unable to attend the race this weekend, Alexandre Imperatori will take over driving duties to partner Taiwanese driver, Jeffrey Lee. Imperatori was third overall in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia last year and is a very capable partner to take over from Marchy.
Japanese driver, Hisao Shigeta is looking to make up for his mistake in the last race at Fuji where his race ended with a turn one incident. He currently lies fifth on the points table in the Direction Racing’s 997 GT3R having finished on the podium three times, including one win.
Samson Chan is having better luck this year during the season finishing every race entered so far between a lowest of ninth and a highest of fifth placing him sixth on the leaderboard for Craft Eurasia Hong Kong in the Ford GT3.
Chan is nine points ahead of Clearwater Racing’s other F458 driver, David Lai and a further three points ahead of Craft teammate Frank Yu in eighth.
Round 6 winner, Hisamori Hayashi will be coming in to the weekend on a high after bringing his Porsche 997 GT3R to finish twice on the podium in his first GT Asia Series outing. He now lies a shared ninth on the points table, with Sri Lankan Dilantha Malagamuwa of Dilango Racing in the Lamborghini LP560 GT3.
After missing the rounds in Fuji, Billy Fung is back to compete in his Lamborghini LP600 GT3, this time with a driver partner, Akihiro Asai. The experienced Japanese driver started in Formula racing before moving on to GT cars in 1998 and he has not looked back since. He has also competed in Super GT and is the reigning Supercar Thailand Champion.
The Suzuka Circuit is operated by Mobilityland Corporation, a subsidiary of Honda Motor Company. The 5.8km circuit is one of the most exciting to race in Japan with beautiful scenery surrounding every corner including the skyline dominating giant wheel at the circuit’s theme park. The circuit is located on the Southern coast of Japan, 400km from Tokyo and 80km from Kyoto - a place famous for its Japanese gardens and shrines.
The GT Asia Series Rounds 7 & 8 is scheduled to begin on Friday 17th August with a Practice Session. Qualifying Sessions 1 & 2 are scheduled for Saturday from 12noon to 12.40pm with the 40-minute Round 7 race being held on the same day at 4.05pm. Round 8 is scheduled for Sunday, 19th August at 9.00am.
The GT Asia Series will continue to Autopolis International Circuit on 28-30 September before heading to be a part of the Macau GP at the Guia International Circuit for the Series’ Season Finale on 16-18 November.
The 2012 GT Asia Series is supported by, Yokohama ADVAN, Graham Timekeepers, KW Automotive, AutoArt, Stand21, Endless, Cody Enterprises and RaceRoom.
The GT Asia Series is jointly organised by Motorsport Asia and Supercar Club Hong Kong.