Yazid and Ochiai jump to top of Pro-Am leaderboard
with overall victory in Race 6 at Fuji Speedway
Japan. (July 7 2019) – Hojust Racing’s Afiq Yazid of Malaysia and Japan’s Toshiyuki Ochiai leaped to the top of the Pro-Am leaderboard after a powerful victory in Race 6 of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia at the Fuji Speedway in Japan. Taking their third Pro-Am win so far this season in front of an ecstatic home crowd, Yazid and Ochiai now have a two-point lead over Race 1 overall winner Alex Au, partnered with Yuki Nemoto at Vincenzo Sospiri Racing, second over the line in Race 6.
Third on the road and Pro class winners were FFF Racing Team’s Juuso Puhakka and Takashi Kasai, strengthening their advantage in the title chase to four points over four-time race-winning Gama Racing pair of Evan Chen and Chris van der Drift, fourth overall in Race 6. Third in the Pro-Am class were Leipert Motorsport’s Massimo Vignali and Brendon Leitch after another sensational stint by the quick Kiwi.
While just missing out on a Pro-Am podium, with Henry Kwong finishing the D1 Racing Team’s stint fourth in class, all would agree that the accolade of Man of the Race should go to pole-sitter Max Wiser. Returning to the championship for the first time this season, the Italian dominated the first half of the race, racing in a class that was all his own and pounding out lap after lightning lap on the 4.563km Fuji track.
With Japanese drivers on the winning crews of all four classes today it was the Promotion Racing powerhouse pairing of Jun Tashiro and Satoshi Furuta who took the Am victory, after a phenomenal run by solo Am driver Steven Lin saw him cross the line second ahead of Am class points leader T Squared Racing’s Huilin Han of China.
The Lamborghini Cup was once again a hotly-contested affair, with yh Racing Team’s Daijiro Yoshihara and Takamichi Matsuda putting in a wheel-perfect performance to take their second Cup win of the season so far. Second on the road was GDL Racing’s Gabriele Murroni, ahead of the 852 Challengers of Paul Wong and Clement Li. However, Murroni was handed a 30-second penalty for late-race contact with Wong which saw the Hong Kong, China driver spin and lose a place. Wong and Li lead the Lamborghini Cup category with an impressive 32-point lead from Matsuda and Yoshihara.
The second the lights went green on the rolling start it was clear Wiser meant business, the D1 Racing Team driver launching from pole and bravely storming clear of the chasing pack before soaring off into the distance. Behind him, Alex Au also made a good getaway, staying clear of Toshiyuki Ochiai, who jumped from P6 to third in the order ahead of second row starter Steven Lin of FFF Racing Team. Pro Takashi Kasai was another early mover from the fourth row, getting ahead of Satoshi Furuta and up to sixth. Pro rival Evan Chen, however, didn’t get the best of starts dropping down to ninth in the running.
As Wiser continued to gallop into the distance, opening up a lead of almost four seconds by the end of the second lap, a strong drive from Au was holding Ochiai at bay until the Hong Kong, China driver finally lost momentum and succumbed to the onslaught.
It was a second unlucky race for Aylezo Motorsports’ Angelo Negro after crashing in Race 5, but this time the team was able to quickly repair a front left puncture and get the car back out on track.
Having dropped down to third behind Ochiai, Au next came under attack from the on-form Lin, who found his way past and into podium contention, with Kasai and then Chen also getting by, dropping him to sixth ahead of Am leader Furuta.
As Wiser continued to increase his advantage at the front of the field, the gap sitting at more than 17 seconds by the end of Lap 10, behind him Ochiai, Lin and Kasai were locked in battle, with Au not letting the trio get away.
When the pit window opened, Ochiai was first in for the changeover, keen to hand over to Pro partner Yazid as early as possible. Wiser, meanwhile, stayed out on track for as long as possible to maximize the margin – which stood at more than 29 seconds - when he handed over to Kwong.
As the timing screens updated after the changeovers, Kwong led the pack from Yazid, who was more than six seconds clear of Nemoto, with Puhakka leading the Pro charge some way ahead of an apparently- struggling van der Drift. Tashiro led the charge in the Am class having taken over from Furuta after a storming run, the toll of a solo race possibly extracting its price from Lin.
There was disappointment for the Australian GDL Racing pair of Dan Stutterd and Richard Muscat when the team was handed a 51-second stop/go penalty for a pit stop infringement.
Leitch, meanwhile, was once again flying through the field having taken the wheel from Massimo Vignali, who had started from back in P17. Leitch quickly made headway, the scorching young New Zealand talent immediately climbing to 11th in the order.
At the front, however, Yazid was closing on Kwong fast, grabbing the lead on Lap 20 and immediately heading off on the hunt for the chequered flag. Next it was Nemoto who got by the D1 Racing Team driver, before Puhakka also found his way past. As he dropped down the order, Kwong spun under pressure from van der Drift, but managed to continue to cross the line fourth in class, just missing out on a podium finish.
As the clock ticked down on the 50-minute race, an epic push by Lamborghini Cup driver Murroni saw him close up to rival Wong, second in class. However, the pair made contact, tipping both into a spin and earning the Italian a 30-second penalty and dropping him to third in class in the final results.
Yazid sailed across the line with a healthy 3.036 second margin from Nemoto, with Puhakka taking the final overall podium place and van der Drift coming in almost five seconds behind his Pro rival. Tashiro took the Am win from an impressive Lin, with Lamborghini Squadra Corse Young Driver Program driver Leitch completing another stunning run to finish seventh and claim the final Pro-Am podium place.
After a superb weekend of fierce competition at Fuji Speedway, the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia continues next month with the Round 4 double-header to be held at the 5.615km Korea International Circuit in Yeongam, South Korea from August 3 and 4.
Takashi Kasai #63 FFF Racing Team, Pro Winner, Round 3, Race 2
“In Race 1 we started from P5 so we could take a podium, but in Race 2 we were starting from P8 and I was like, ‘I have to do something at the start’. It was kind of risky, but you either go hard or you go home. I went on the throttle quite early and I went from the outside and, luckily, I [overtook] three cars and then I was pushing hard and I caught up with Steven [Lin]. I wanted to overtake him but he was quite fast so I didn’t want to waste the tyres. I didn’t want to push too hard. I wanted to give Juuso a car in good condition for his stint so he could push more.”
Afiq Yazid, #38 Hojust Racing, Overall and Pro-Am Winner, Round 3, Race 2
“It’s been a fantastic weekend! This win is very important for us as Fuji is the home town of our team. Thanks to the team, they did a very amazing job all this weekend. We worked very hard. We learned from Suzuka; the mistakes and all the experience, we brought it here and it was perfect. We nailed it! We’re looking forward to the Korea rounds and we’ll see how it goes. This championship battle is still on.”
Jun Tashiro #77 Promotion Racing, Am Winner, Round 3, Race 2
“My teammate [Furuta] tried to keep his position, but after another Am class car got in front of him, he just kept following the Am class car and didn’t care about the other categories. Our competitor spun [later in the race] and we were able to take over the position. This is my third time driving a Lamborghini. In the beginning, steering the car wasn’t so easy. The Lamborghini is a bull, but now I understand a little bit – like a matador on how to control the bull.”
Daijiro Yoshihara #30 yh Racing Team, Lamborghini Cup Winner, Round 3, Race 2
“It feels great, it was almost perfect for us today. Yesterday we had a really good battle with #44 but we couldn’t pass them, so today our goal was to get in front of them. In qualifying, they were faster than us so the first couple of laps, that was our chance to overtake. I was able to do it and then keep the gap and Matsuda-san did a really good job keeping the space all the way to the finish.”