Race 2 Fuji Victory for Clazzio Racing
after Lamborghini Super Trofeo Masterclass
Clazzio Racing took its second Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia victory of the weekend at Japan’s Fuji International Speedway after two wheel-perfect stints in which reigning champions Kei Cozzolino and Afiq Yazid completely dominated the race. Their uninterrupted pole-to-flag run saw Yazid cross the line with a massive margin of more than 18 seconds over second-place finishers, FFF Racing Team by ACM’s Andrea Amici and Artur Janosz.
Fifth overall and third-placed Pro finishers were Leipert Motorsport’s Ben Gersekowski and Richard Muscat with another storming run from the back of the grid after technical woes stymied their qualifying sessions.
Gama Racing’s Evan Chen and Akihiro Asai claimed the final overall podium place, earning the Pro-Am victory after a superbly-executed, last-lap move on Race 1 class winners Mikko Eskelinen and Juuso Puhakka of Leipert Motorsport. Third in the Pro-Am class were HoJust Racing’s Takeshi Matsumoto and Toshiyuki Ochiai.
In the chase for Am honours, local heroes Car Guy Racing duo Satoshi Furuta and Jun Tashiro took a superb win after leading the class throughout the race, the pair doubly delighted after the disappointment of an early retirement in Race 1. Second in class was Am championship leader Bobby Buncharoen of True Visions Motorsports followed by FPC Racing’s Ken Urata and Daisuke Matsunaga.
After a weekend of misfortune, GDL Racing Team’s Gabriele Murroni was delighted to finally see his luck turn. The Italian took his third Lamborghini Cup win of the season so far, his points haul making up in some way for the disappointment of a DNF through no fault of his own in Race 1.
After an action-packed Fuji weekend, Amici and Janosz strengthen their lead of the Pro classification, now 20 points clear of FFF Racing by ACM team mates Jack Bartholomew and James Pull. Leipert Motorsport’s Gersekowski lies six points behind them in third, while Cozzolino and Yazid are now fourth. In the Am standings, the gap between Chen and Asai, and Eskelinen and Puhakka, remains at two points, but the Gama Racing Race 2 win sees them return to the top of the class leaderboard.
Buncharoen increases his lead in the Am class, with an 11-point lead over Urata and Matsunaga, while Hong Kong’s 852 Challengers Paul Wong and Clement Li lead Murroni by 15 points in the Lamborghini Cup title chase.
Starting from pole, as the lights went green Cozzolino faced an immediate challenge from Amici. Behind the pair, Puhakka made a blinding getaway, but the race leaders firmly closed the door on the 19-year-old. But the fight for the lead was less straight forward, with Cozzolino bouncing over the kerbs in an all-out, white-knuckle fight with the Italian. The Japanese driver prevailed, shaking off his rival and rocketing clear to pull an incredible two second gap by the end of the opening lap.
Behind Amici, Puhakka was coming under pressure from Aylezo Motorsport’s Max Wiser, with FFF Racing’s Jack Bartholomew leading from Asai, Gersekowski - who had already climbed to seventh in the order - and Matsumoto.
At the front, Cozzolino was in total control, a fast, flawless drive increasing his lead by almost a second a lap, his experience of the Fuji track and a perfectly-prepared car from Clazzio Racing producing a motorsport masterclass.
Just before the pit window opened, Puhakka lay third overall behind Amici and continued to lead the Pro-Am class, with Wiser, Bartholomew and Matsumoto, up to sixth overall having got by Asai, behind.
Lamborghini Cup points leaders the 852 Challengers continued to lead their class ahead of Murroni, however misfortune struck YH Racing Team’s Takamichi Matsuda for the second time this weekend when he spun and came to a halt.
After the drive changeovers, Cozzolino’s team mate Yazid emerged with a lead of more than 11 seconds thanks to the Japanese ace’s efforts in the opening stint, way in front of Janosz who took over from Amici. Pull, meanwhile, got by Eskelinen, the Finn unable to resist the challenge. Drama struck when Chinese driver Bian, who had taken over from Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia newcomer Sky Chen, hit the barriers heavily, the resulting damaging ending his race.
Behind Ochiai in fifth overall, Muscat got by Chen but the Gama Racing driver fought back, the pair almost making contact before the Australian managed to pull clear.
With just eight minutes on the clock, Pull dived up the inside of Lamborghini Cup driver Li. The Hong Kong driver was occupied in his own battle for position and didn’t see Pull. The pair made contact, damaging both cars. The incident put the FFF Racing Team driver out of the race, while Li managed to continue to cross the line, albeit losing out on the class win.
Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, Ochiai was on maximum attack, closing down on Eskelinen for the Pro-Am win and the final podium place. However, as the clock ticked down, a brave but well-judged move by Chen saw him get by first his Japanese rival, and then lining up his move on the Finn. As the pair came past the start/finish line for the last time only half a car length separated them, Chen making his move on the last lap to take both the Pro-Am victory and an overall podium finish.
Car Guy Racing’s Tashiro took the flag to collect the team’s maiden Am victory, while Murroni sailed across the line to take a well-deserved Lamborghini Cup victory.
The contest for the 2018 Lamborghini Super Trofeo titles resumes on September 22 and 23 at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit, venue of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix and the country’s premier race track. The double-header will see the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia in action for the last time in the region this season, before it heads home to Italy’s Vallelunga track in November for the final rounds of the 2018, and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Final.
Kei Cozzolino #11 Clazzio Racing Team – Pro Winner Round 4, Race 2
“Sorry for a boring race in the beginning! Maybe I should have let Amici pass me at turn 2, but you know, when you’re out there man, you have your visor down, you’re head down… I was ahead of Amici and he was on the inside. Then I wanted to go ahead of him, but it was really tight. I was turning in and I saw him coming on the inside. I thought, ‘if I close this, he’s going to hit me for sure’. So I just had to let it go. From there it was just [finding] my rhythm.”
Afiq Yazid #11 Clazzio Racing Team – Pro Winner Round 4, Race 2
“It was a fantastic race. Really hot weather but the car was really good compared to yesterday. Kei did a very good stint and pulled a 10 second gap, which was a very comfortable gap for me to continue the second stint. I’m thankful to my sponsor Clazzio for this opportunity for these two rounds in Japan. To my team, thank you for a really great, great car and thanks to my team mate who did a very good job. I’m so happy!”
Evan Chen #68 Gama Racing – Pro-Am Winner Round 4, Race 2
“The car wasn’t there in Suzuka so in Fuji the team worked extra hard. Luckily we had a very good car and were on the pace. Akihiro did a really great first stint, so we were in the gap to catch up. I tried to stay focused, stay calm, and try to catch up. What a race man!”
Akihiro Asai #68 Gama Racing – Pro-Am Winner Round 4, Race 2
“The last couple of races we’ve been unlucky with the Safety Car and all that kind of stuff and so was yesterday. But finally, today was just Evan’s day. His pace was mega. It’s been a long time because our last win was in the very first round, so we’ve been up and down – second and third – so finally had to be back here.”
Satoshi Furuta/Jun Tashiro #99 Car Guy Racing – Am Winner Round 4, Race 2
“We’re very happy to win! We just joined the Fuji Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia races this year, but for next year we’re planning for Suzuka and Fuji also. Our dream would be to do the whole season.”
Gabriele Murroni #88 852 GDL Racing Team – Lamborghini Cup Winner Round 4, Race 2
“It was a lot of luck! After two days of bad luck we were due some luck. I was suffering as there are still some issues with the car after yesterday’s accident. It was tough with new tyres compared to old tyres, which is strange, and is why I’m not a professional driver. That’s why I make my living out of something else luckily!”