Tuesday, Jun 18 11:01am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Kiwi triple threat to take on Asia’s best at Suzuka

Andre Heimgartner, Shane van Gisbergen and Chris van der Drift head to the the host of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, the famed Suzuka Circuit.


The figure-eight circuit just south of manufacturing and shipping mecca Nagoya is rightly considered one of the world’s great race tracks thanks to iconic corners like 130R, the fast and flowing esses, Spoon and Degner Curves as well as the infamous Casio Triangle.


Round 3 of Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia sees the GT3 and GT4 cars contest the standard two-race 60-minute format across Saturday and Sunday.


While it’s a return to the series for Heimgartner and van der Drift, former Supercars Championship winner van Gisbergen makes his debut.




He’ll race the familiar Mercedes-AMG GT3 (pictured above) platform in the Triple Eight Race Engineering stable alongside Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, the Prince of Johor.


The Prince and accomplished Malaysian driver Jazeman Jaafar showed signs of speed in the opening two rounds at Sepang and Chang International Circuit. However, they sit a lowly 17th in the standings, something van Gisbergen will no doubt look to rewrite this weekend.




Despite only having contested the second round in Thailand, Andre Heimgartner comes into Round 3 in sixth overall for HubAuto Corsa. He rejoins the Taiwanese team with their Ferrari 488 GT3 (pictued above) off the back of a fourth and second place finish with Japanese co-driver Yuya Sakamoto.


In the Pro-Am division Chris van der Drift and Chinese co-driver Li Chao sit fourth overall and 23 points in arrears of class leaders Alex Au and Frederik Schandorff.




The pair who pilot a Porsche 911 GT3 R (pictured above) have taken two podiums from four races so far. It could’ve been a lot better for them had they not encountered mechanical woes in the final race in Thailand while battling for the podium.


A total of 28 cars will race this weekend with 22 of those fully fledged FIA GT3 racers.


Action gets underway on Friday at Suzuka Circuit with two 45-minute practice sessions. That will be followed by Qualifying on Saturday at 1:30pm NZST and Race 1 at 6:00pm NZST. On Sunday Race 2 starts at 2:10pm NZST.


Brendon Leitch will also be racing in the Formula 3 Asian Championship and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia. 


CLICK HERE for the weekend time table


CLICK HERE for the full entry list