Lamborghini, Blancpain, racers and teams gathered once again at Japan’s historic Fuji International Speedway today for the last Asian circuit stop in the 2016 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia series. Returning to Japan for the second time this season, following the June race weekend in Suzuka, the series revisits what has become a favorite venue for competitors, with the track featuring in the Asia series competition every year since its inception. As is now a local tradition, the day’s events kicked off with a breathtaking customer car parade, featuring 45 Lamborghini road car models.
Japan has a highly developed car and motorsports culture, ensuring Lamborghini a dedicated following in the region. A total of ten Japanese drivers took part in the race, and with the top two championship rankings this year held by Japanese teams, competition was bound to be fierce. As eighteen Huracán Super Trofeo took to the grid, tensions mounted as pilots plotted strategies to dethrone the likes of Toshiyuki Ochiai and Yudai Uchida from their coveted podium positions. An excellent performance this year from Ochiai and teammate Afiq Yazid has proved all but indomitable, with Uchida and teammate Jono Lester not far off.
Yazid’s performance this year is testament to the success of the Lamborghini Young Drivers Program; meanwhile this year the company has added an additional two training programs for young drivers, the Lamborghini GT3 Junior Program and Lamborghini Kart Drivers Program.
The day began with clear skies before clouding over around noon, as is characteristic of Mt. Fuji’s surrounding area, with temperatures for qualifying race one hovering around the mid-teens. Qualifying saw New Zealand driver Jono Lester take pole on the grid, followed by Dilango Racing’s Armaan Ebrahim from India in second and local driver Eiji Yamada in third. Fourth on the grid was series veteran and local driver Takeshi Kimura, followed by Jake Parsons from Australia in fifth and series favorite Toshiyuki Ochiai down in sixth.
As the race got underway, it became clear that this was going to be a hard fought battle. Immediately, positions started shifting, with Sri Lankan driver Dilantha Malagamuwa and teammate Ebrahim putting hard pressure on Uchida and Lester from the start, the pair jostling for pole for more than half the race, exchanging the lead four times or more before they were both caught by Ochiai and Yazid, who had crept up into the lead by around lap 22. Yamada held onto his third position for the start, but by lap 12, Parsons and fellow Australian teammate Aidian Wright had overtaken him, putting themselves into third. Meanwhile Andrew Haryanto from Indonesia moved up the grid from ninth place into seventh, relegating first local drivers Akira Mizutani and teammate Hironori Takeuchi, then Takeshi Kimura and teammate Hironori Takeuchi. By lap 19 however, Mizutani and Takeuchi came back with a vengeance and went into fifth place.
By lap 22, Yamada, now in fourth was starting to put the pressure back on Uchida and Lester, and a few laps later reclaimed his third spot on the podium. Mizutani and Takeuchi had by this stage pushed past Uchida and Lester, clinging onto fourth place through the corners. Despite sustained pressure from Malagamuwa and Ebrahim in second, Ochiai and Yazid stayed firmly planted in pole.
In the end, it was once again Ochiai and Yazid’s race; the pair put on a sterling performance to claim pole from back at sixth on the grid. Dilango Racing’s Malagamuwa and Ebrahim have consistently performed well this year and will be happy with their finish today, while newcomer to the 2016 season, Eiji Yamada, staked his claim to third with a very competitive run.
Overall AM Lamborghini Cup
1st Ochiai / Yazid 1st T. Kimura 1st S. Weeraborwornpong
2nd Malagamuwa / Ebrahim 2nd Chou / Chan 2nd Cheng / Chung
3rd E. Yamada 3rd A. Haryanto 3rd Lin / Wang