The second day of competition at Japan's world famous Fuji International Speedway concluded gloriously this afternoon with a thrilling wet race around one of the world's fastest circuits. After yesterday's fair weather, drivers and teams were greeted by heavy rain this morning, adding to the excitement and challenge of Shizuoka's famed 4.5km track. Back in Japan for the second time this year, the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia series provides the highest level of service to customers, scouting the best race locations in the continent and bringing with them a team of dedicated staff to ensure the finest hospitality. After a delayed start to the race caused by severe weather, teams took to the grid for the last race in Asia before the sixth stop of the Asia series and highly anticipated World Final, to be held in Valencia, Spain this December.
Yesterday's morning qualifying session saw Japanese driver and newcomer to the 2016 season, Hironori Takeuchi, take pole on the grid, to the delight of local teammate Akira Mizutani. Max Wiser from Italy put in the second fastest qualifying run, placing himself and Malaysian teammate Zen Low in a good position to make a podium finish. Top ranking driver this season, Afiq Yazid, ensured the number three spot for Bubu racing team and partner Toshiyuki Ochiai. Among the AM drivers, George Chou and Samson Chan of Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, China were the fastest, followed by Indonesian driver Andrew Haryanto, then Hong Kong, China racer Vincent Wong and Korean teammate Sanghwi Yoon.
With thick clouds above, a stiff breeze, pouring rain and temperatures significantly down from yesterday's race, pit crews got to work on fitting wet tires to the fleet of racing Huracán Super Trofeo. Keeping a close eye on track conditions, officials gave the all clear for the safety car start, the V10 engines roaring to life through near impenetrable clouds of spray as drivers roared across the starting line following the sighting lap.
Despite a prime position on the grid, Takeuchi and Mizutani were forced by conditions to take a conservative line, quickly relinquishing their position at the front of the pack to Low and Wiser, slipping into third behind Yazid and Ochiai within the first couple of laps. While the duo hung on to the third spot until lap 11, an unfortunate spin took them out of the race. Eiji Yamada, qualifying fourth overall on the grid held his position, sticking to the front three cars like a limpet and eventually capitalizing on competitors' unforced errors. By lap 18 he had relived Low and Wiser of their then number two spot, themselves having earlier dropped a place after falling victim to the unabated pressure coming from Yazid and Ochiai. Meanwhile, Jono Lester of New Zealand and local veteran Yudai Uchida hung on in fifth waiting for an opportunity, which eventually came in lap 18 where they moved up into third overall. Elsewhere on the track, Haryanto was jostling with Chou and Chan for control of the AM class, taking advantage early on and moving up to the front. Following an error by both Haryanto and Uchida between laps 9 and 12, Chou and Chan moved into fifth overall to lead the AM teams. Their glory was short lived however, as Japanese drivers Tsuyoshi Tajima and Shinji Takei began to hound the pair, with another Japanese racing duo of Takeshi Kimura and Yusuke Hayashi not far behind. Taijima and Takei passed Chou and Chan before being caught out by a hard driving Haryanto in lap 19, with Kimura and Hayashi now fourth in the AM class. By lap 24, Haryanto had pushed back to the front of the AMs, while Kimura and Hayashi moved past Chou and Chan into third in class. At the checkered flag, it was once again Yazid and Ochiai who reigned supreme, with Yamada in second and Uchida and Lester in third. Haryanto led the AMs, followed by Taijima and Tekei in second, with Kimura and Hayashi in third.
As the curtain comes down on another weekend of racing thrills in Fuji, drivers and teams now turn their attention towards preparation for the sixth Asia series race and Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo World Final, both in Valencia. The World Final sees competitors from all three international series, European, North American and Asian, converge on the Ricardo Tormo Circuit and go head to head in an all-out competition for a place on the coveted global podium. With unforgettable action a guarantee, please stay tuned to see who will emerge as the Super Trofeo World Champion.