WEC/IMSA/GT
Sunday, Sep 8 09:51am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Kiwi duo struggle in Super Trofeo Asia opener at Shanghai

Maxime Jousse and Norman Nato took a thrilling maiden win in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia at Shanghai International Circuit, beating Chris van der Drift and Evan Chen.

 

The Frenchmen finished more than 18 seconds ahead of Pro rivals and current class championship leaders Takashi Kasai and Juuso Puhakka of FFF Racing Team. Third overall today were Pro Am victors Afiq Yazid and Toshiyuki Ochiai of Hojust Racing.

 

Second in the Pro-Am class were Philip Kadoorie and Dan Wells of Leipert Motorsport, while Massimo Vignali and Brendon Leitch in the sister Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO were third in the category.

 

Thai brothers Sarun and Saravut Sereethoranakul celebrated their maiden Am class victory, while Takamichi Matsuda and Dai Yoshihara of yh Racing Team took honours in the seven-strong Lamborghini Cup, their fifth class win of the season.

 

With nine of this season’s 12 races complete and heading into tomorrow’s Race 2 of the Shanghai double-header, Kasai and Puhakka have a narrow seven-point lead atop the Pro class leaderboard over Gama Racing’s Evan Chen and Chris van der Drift.

 

Yazid and Ochiai’s fifth Pro-Am victory of the season today helps to extend their lead in the class, and they are now 25 points ahead of Leitch. Leitch, Puhakka and Chen are all part of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse Young Driver Program, aimed providing development opportunities for fledging talent.

 

With his second-placed finish in the Am category, Huilin Han of T Squared Racing continues to lead the category and is 10 points ahead of PSC Motorsport drivers Sarun and Saravut in second. Aylezo Motorsports’ driver Zen Low, who finished third in the Am class today with Angelo Negro, sits third on the Am class leaderboard.

 

852 Challengers’ Clement Li leads the Lamborghini Cup and is one point ahead of regular team mate Paul Wong. Third in the category are Matsuda and Yoshihara.

 

As the field thundered off the gird at China’s FIA Grade I Grand Prix circuit, pole-sitter Yazid got away cleanly, ahead of Puhakka, Nato and van der Drift, with the Kiwi then getting past series newcomer Nato at the second turn.

 

Yazid set about pulling a gap to his rivals, but on Lap 5, the Safety Car was called out after a spin by Clerebold Chan of 852 Challengers. A lap later, racing resumed and Yazid once again led the way ahead of Puhakka, van der Drift and Nato, with the four drivers battling hard. Negro led the Am class in the early stages of the race, making his way up to sixth from eighth on the grid, while fellow Italian Gabriele Murroni of GDL Racing led the charge in the competitive Lamborghini Cup category.

 

As the pit window opened, the four leading drivers stayed out on track, while Pro-Am podium finisher Kadoorie and eventual Am class winner Saravut were among the first to make their mandatory pit stop.

 

Nato was the first of the leading pack to make his pit stop, handing over to Jousse as part of the team’s strategy to give Jousse some time in the car before attacking for the lead.

 

After the driver changeovers, it was Chen who led the field, with Jousse just a half a second behind, followed by Kasai and Ochiai, the Am driver in the Hojust Pro-Am pairing. Wells had quickly moved up fifth, with Sarun sixth and in the Am class lead.

 

Jousse edged his way closer to Chen and on Lap 17, finding a way past the Gama Racing driver and soon building an unassailable lead. While Chen would cross the line second, Gama Racing was later given a penalty for a pit stop infringement and finished third in the Pro category and fifth overall.

 

In the closing stages of the race, an intense battle emerged between Low, True Visions Motorsport Bobby Buncharoen, the pair crossing the line just two-tenths of a second apart. 

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