FFF Racing signs off in Korea
with dramatic overall Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia victory
Korea. (August 4, 2019) – FFF Racing Team Pro championship leaders Takashi Kasai and Juuso Puhakka took their first overall win of the 2019 season after seizing victory in Race 8 of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia at the Korea International Circuit today. The pair beat title rivals and race runners-up Evan Chen and Chris van der Drift of Gama Racing to the flag after an electrifying pitched battle in the dying moments of the race which unseated race leader and Pro-Am runner-up HoJust Racing’s Toshiyuki Ochiai.
Ochiai and Pro partner Afiq Yazid had led all the way from pole position right up to the closing seconds of the 50-minute race, with formidable performances from both drivers. However, in the final furious run to the flag, Ochiai paid a heavy price for a tiny error, and the two Pros pounced. Despite being first of the Pro-Am finishers on the road, their disappointment was compounded by a post-race penalty for a pit lane speed infringement during the driver changeover, which demoted them to second in class, fourth overall.
The penalty promoted Leipert Motorsport’s Jake Rattenbury and Brendon Leitch to first in Pro-Am, third overall, after a brilliant run from the New Zealander saw him dive past third-placed Pro-Am driver GDL Racing’s Daniel Stutterd with just six minutes remaining on the clock.
There was plenty of late-race drama too in the Am and Lamborghini Cup classes. Just minutes from the flag, Aylezo Motorsports’ Doyun Hwang snatched the Am victory from PSC Motorsports’ Saravut and Sarun Sereethoranakul after the Thai brothers had led their class right up until the closing laps. Third in the Am class was solo driver Huilin Han of T Squared Racing, another strong performance from the Chinese talent to strengthen his place at the top of the category leaderboard.
Likewise, Lamborghini Cup points-leaders, Paul Wong and Clement Li of the 852 Challengers were denied a fifth victory after a late-race move by yh Racing Team’s Daijiro Yoshihara who, along with team mate Takamichi Matsuda, were class winners in Race 8. GDL Racing’s Gabriele Murroni took the final Lamborghini Cup podium place.
Starting from pole, Yazid made a tidy start as the lights went green for the final time this weekend at the 5.615km Korea International Circuit. Muscat, who took the first stint from Stutterd, slotted in behind Yazid with Pro entry van der Drift in third ahead of Kasai.
The Malaysian began eking out a margin in the front as the leading four cars pulled clear of the chasing pack, with Am driver Sarun running a strong fifth overall ahead of series newcomer Rattenbury and Li.
A third of the way in, an epic, crowd-pleasing battle developed further down the order between Zen Low in the Aylezo Motorsports entry, Han, impressive series newcomer Philip Kadoorie who partnered with Dan Wells at Leipert Motorsport, and True Visions Motorsport’s Bobby Buncharoen. The four-way, nose-to-tail chase continued over several laps, until Han finally found his way past Low and began pulling away.
As the pit window opened, race leader Yazid stayed out as long as possible before handing over to Am partner Ochiai, as did Muscat. Despite being chased hard by both Muscat and van der Drift, Yazid was able to give Ochiai an advantage of several seconds at the changeover, and the Japanese ace did well to maintain the margin. For Stutterd, though, it was a tougher stint. Pursued by the hard-charging Pros Chen and Puhakka, the Australian was swamped by the pair and rattled into a spin, dropping him down to fourth.
Next it was Chen to feel the heat as Pro rival Puhakka hunted him down, the battling duo giving Ochiai some breathing space. With five minutes remaining, Ochiai had maintained a lead of more than 3.5 seconds, while further back Stutterd fell victim to a determined Leitch who snatched fourth overall and the Pro-Am lead.
Two minutes to go, and Chen had closed to within two seconds of Ochiai as the tension rose. Bowing to the intense pressure, Ochiai out braked himself, a slip-up which cost him more than a second and suddenly both Chen and Puhakka loomed large in his mirrors. Chen dived on the inside but Ochiai fought back, but as the battling pair lost momentum, Puhakka pounced, diving into the lead and crossing the line to take his and Kasai’s first overall win of the season and increasing their lead at the top of the Pro standings to four points.
It was a thrilling end to a superb debut at the South Korean F1-standard race track. The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia next travels to the home of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix, the Shanghai International Circuit. Races 9 and 10, the final Asian rounds before the 2019 season finale and World Final in Spain, will be held from September 6-8.
Takashi Kasai #63 FFF Racing Team, Pro Winner, Round 4, Race 2
“I have to thank Juuso who did an amazing job in the second stint. In my stint I tried to make a good start. I didn’t want to take a huge risk. All I wanted to do was to keep the brakes and the tyres for Juuso, so even when I had the huge gap in front of me, I didn’t want to really push because with this heat the tyres go off really quickly. As I watched Juuso at the end, I was about to have a heart attack. When there were two minutes left, I was not sure that we could finish in P1. When car #38 went off in the first sector, I thought maybe we’d finish P2, but with the traffic and a lot of fights, Juuso managed to get away… It’s amazing to have kept the car in one piece; I was about to faint.”
Juuso Puhakka, #63 FFF Racing Team, Pro Winner, Round 4, Race 2
“We are really happy. This is our first big victory of the year. We are improving with the team all the time – the set-up, the driving, the team work and everything, and now we can show the result of what we can do. I’m really happy for Takashi. He was mega patient and he did a quick first stint which gave me the chance to fight for victory. Today was one of the toughest stints of my life: it was really hot in the car and you need to focus before the race, how you drink, how you relax in the car so not to faint in the car. I’m really sometimes struggling with the heat but luckily, we managed until the finish line. I think I got a little bit lucky to have some traffic ahead of Chen, which gave me a chance. We had a really, really tough battle – three corners door to door.“
Zen Low, #69 Aylezo Motorsports, Am Winner, Round 4, Race 2
“I’ve been trying so hard since Round 1 in Sepang all the way to Suzuka, Fuji and we had so much bad luck – one thing after another. The last four races were a disaster for us – we destroyed a car, we had accidents, we had punctures, you name it. Finally, this is our weekend. We never gave up and we just kept pushing. It feels awesome. The weather is crazy. I come from Malaysia so I’m used to 34-36 degrees – that’s normal for me and our humidity is so high – but I struggled here. The weather was ridiculously tough on all the machines and also the drivers, so to make it through to the top spot… I’m speechless. Well done to my teammate who did an awesome job and I’m super happy.”
Dai Yoshihara, #30 yh Racing Team, Lamborghini Cup Winner, Round 4, Race 2
“It was the same situation as yesterday, but opposite drivers. I was following the second half of the race and tried to catch up Mr. Wong. His pace was really fast but I think the last two laps I caught up and was able to pass him to get this win. We’re feeling great about today’s win and really happy about it.”