Yuki Nemoto and Alex Au celebrate
maiden victory in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia
Japan. (June 22 2019) – The Pro-Am pairing of Yuki Nemoto and Alex Au celebrated their maiden Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia victory today, winning the opening race of this weekend’s double header at Suzuka Circuit. Second overall and winner of the Pro category was FFF Racing Team’s Takashi Kasai and Juuso Puhakka, ahead of the Pro-Am pairing of Afiq Yazid and Toshiyuki Ochiai of Hojust Racing.
Continuing to impress in his debut Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia season was Huilin Han of T Squared Racing who, in a remarkable solo effort, finished fourth overall, notching up a second victory in the Am category. Takamichi Matsuda and Dai Yoshihara of yh Racing Team celebrated their first win of the season in the Lamborghini Cup.
Japanese competitor Nemoto, who is making his season debut this weekend, was delighted to race – and to win – on his home track, while Au, having finished on the podium twice in his series debut in Sepang, earned his first overall victory in just his third Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia race.
The weekend has seen both the Am and Lamborghini Cup drivers given the chance to work with 2014 Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Champion Milos Pavlovic. Pavlovic, Lamborghini Squadra Corse Chief Instructor for Asia-Pacific and Huracán GT3 specialist, has been on hand to support the Lamborghini Cup drivers in further developing their racing skills in the championship.
With three races complete, Kasai and Puhakka lead the Pro class. New Pro-Am leader Au has a narrow two-point lead over rivals Yazid and Ochiai, while Han has further extended his lead in the Am championship. Hong Kong, China drivers Paul Wong and Clement Li of 852 Challengers continue to lead the Lamborghini Cup.
Puhakka set a red-hot lap during this morning’s opening qualifying session, which put the 20-year-old Lamborghini Squadra Corse Young Driver Program member on pole position for today’s race. Lining up alongside the Finn was Am class driver Jun Tashiro of Promotion Racing, who, along with fellow Japanese driver Satoshi Furuta is making a welcome return to the championship. Making up the second row was a pair of Pro-Am drivers: New Zealand’s Brendon Leitch of Leipert Motorsport and Ochiai. Au qualified fifth fastest, with GDL Racing’s Richard Muscat sixth on the grid. Both Leitch and Muscat are also part of the Young Driver Program, as is Evan Chen, who started the race from the ninth row after technical issues in qualifying.
Puhakka got off to a strong start, but behind him plenty of drama followed. After infringements at the rolling start, car #77 of Promotion Racing and #38 Hojust Racing were both penalized with a drive-through penalty. By the end of the opening lap, Puhakka was just ahead of Leitch, with Muscat having gained three places to lie third. Han led the Am class while Li took the early lead in the Lamborghini Cup.
The Safety Car was called out early following a spin by the #88 GDL Racing car of Gabriele Murroni. During the intervention, an error by Hong Kong, China’s Samson Chan of GDL Racing resulted in contact with Tashiro, with Chan forced to retire after five laps.
When racing resumed on Lap 6, Puhakka came under pressure from Leitch, Muscat and Chen. Chen was among the first drivers into the pit when the window opened, handing over to Chris van der Drift. Am driver Ochiai also handed over to Pro driver Yazid, with the Malaysian tasked with gaining places lost due to the error at the start.
Once all the pit stops and driver changes had been complete, it was Kasai, who held a narrow lead over van der Drift, with Nemoto third, ahead of series newcomer Danny Stuttered in the #47 car and Leipert Motorsport driver Massimo Vignali. Han continued to lead the Am class and was sixth overall while Wong, who had taken over driving duties from Li in the #44 car, was the Lamborghini Cup leader.
A lap later, van der Drift took the lead from Kasai, with Nemoto getting ahead of his fellow Japanese driver a lap later. While van der Drift was first across the line, the #68 Gama Racing car was later excluded from the results due to a technical infringement.
Just behind the leaders, a thrilling battle emerged between Stutterd, Vignali and Han. Han piled on the pressure and when an opportunity presented itself, the Chinese driver found a way past Vignali, with Yazid, also getting past. Stutterd then ran wide, allowing both Han and Yazid through. A determined Yazid pushed hard and a lap later took fourth place from Han. In the Lamborghini Cup, Yoshihara had moved up two places in the category en route to his and Matsuda’s first victory of the season.
Race 2 of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia at Suzuka Circuit is set for Sunday, June 23, with the fourth race of the season getting underway at 13:30 local time (GMT+9). The race can be watched live around the world on www.squadracorse.lamborghini.com
Alex Au, #66 Vincenzo Sospiri Racing, Pro-Am Winner, Round 2, Race 1
“I made the mistake of letting #68 through, but I thought, it’s a different category. I was playing safe. I was matching the pace of #38, but I wasn’t going fast enough to overtake him. I thought #68 would maybe give him some trouble but I went to the outside hoping that #68 would understand and take the inside, but he didn’t. So, worried that we would have an accident, I just went off and came back in to be safe. I lost a few seconds there and made the tyres dirty and everything, so it’s really good that we still managed [the] Pro-Am [win]. It’s really because of the penalty for #38. They’re really strong competitors so we have to grab all the points while we can because, even if they get a penalty, they will overtake, overtake, overtake, and come back to second place. This circuit’s not easy for the Ams, but it’s satisfying when you’re approaching the Pro times more and more each session.”
Yuki Nemoto, #66 Vincenzo Sospiri Racing, Pro-Am Winner, Round 2, Race 1
“For me, this is my home track. I must have done a thousand laps or something. I’ve been waiting for a long time to drive with Super Trofeo. I knew it was going to be very exciting. This is my first race of the season as I skipped the first round. I’m very happy. It’s a dream come true.”
Huilin Han, #39 T Squared Racing, Am Winner, Round 2, Race 1
“It was a hard-fought race. At the end I had to pass another two cars from another class so it was tough and they were pretty quick and the track was new to me – the first time I’ve driven a Lamborghini here and the second time I’ve raced here so I’m still learning the track. I had to follow them for quite a bit as they were defending well, but then both cars made a little mistake so I saw a gap and I took the opportunity to pass. Then Afiq and I had a battle over the last few laps, but obviously he’s much quicker. He passed me on the second last lap, but it’s always good to fight with Pro drivers; it’s always nice.”
Dai Yoshihara, #30 yH Racing Team, Lamborghini Cup Winner, Round 2, Race 1
“Mr. Matsuda kept his position from the start to the end [of his stint] so he brought me a car when he was in third place [in the Lamborghini Cup] and I just kept my place. This was [Matsuda’s] second time driving in Suzuka and he kept a really good pace and didn’t let anyone pass him – he did really well. I was then able to pass two guys and then I realized we were leading the class. I just drove really safe and kept it to the finish line.”