Returning to the home of the Super Trofeo Asia series debut for the sixth consecutive season, Lamborghini has kicked off this year’s series at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Teams from all over the World are competing this year, with competitors from the continental European and Middle Eastern Super Trofeo series joining the Asian championship, in what has become an important segue for professional drivers moving into GT competition.
The fabled 5.54km track this weekend plays host not only to Lamborghini’s standard-setting single make series, but also to the Malaysian round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia, where five teams racing the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 are competing in the opening of the competition.
The Sepang race weekend is the first of six Super Trofeo Asia series race fixtures this season, the first five rounds being held at some of Asia’s most prestigious race tracks, while round six and the World Final will be held at Italy’s Imola circuit.
The first of two qualifying sessions on Friday saw warm track temperatures with high humidity, providing good conditions for a strong performance from Clazzio Racing, who clinched pole position for race one, their drivers being local favorite and 2016 Asia series champion Afiq Yazid, and teammate Cozzolino Kei of Japan. Also on row one and second on the grid was GDL Racing, made up of Pro-Am team Rik Breukers from New Zealand and Nigel Farmer from Hong Kong. Lazarus racing team’s Artur Janosz of Poland and Meindert Van Buuren from the Netherlands shared row two in third, with X-One Racing Team’s Antonio D’Amico from Italy and Nicolas Costa from Brazil in fourth.
Among the AM teams, X-One Racing Team’s Vincent Wong of Hong Kong and Andrew Haryanto of Indonesia placed sixth on the grid, with Thai brothers Sarun and Saravut Sereethoranakul of PSC Motorsport in eighth overall and George Chou and Samson Chan of Taipei and Hong Kong respectively, together in eleventh. Meanwhile among the Lamborghini Cup competitors, Michael Choi and Keith Chan both from Hong Kong started twelfth on the grid for Arrows Racing, followed by Bill Ng of Singapore for Tedco racing in thirteenth, Supachai Weeraborwornpong from Thailand with Top Speed Racing in fourteenth and Petri Corse’s Gabriele Murroni from Italy in fifteenth.
Teams’ preparations for race one got underway as the humidity of Saturday afternoon threatened to bring rain shortly before the start. After the customary Super Trofeo rolling start, the competition got underway as the Huracán Super Trofeo engines roared to life on the main straight approaching the first corner.
In the first lap, Haryanto managed to slip past Pro team Leipert’s Ben Gersekowski from Austria, moving up into fifth overall, meanwhile another Austrian driver Richard Goddard of FFF racing Team lost his spot, moving down to fourteenth from ninth, allowing Leipert’s Pro-Am team driver Mikko Eskelinen from Finland, Ng, Keith Chan, Murroni and Weeraborwornpong to move up the ranking.
As the rain started to fall, track conditions became increasingly slippery on circuit, and there was no shortage of action for spectators. The third lap saw Murroni go from twelfth to thirteenth, replaced by Weeraborwornpong, while in lap five Goddard overtook Keith Chan to go into eleventh. Lap seven saw a costly mistake from Ng lose him six places, moving to the back of the pack, meanwhile a nice overtake from Sereethoranakul on Haryanto meant the two exchanged positions, the Thai driver now going into seventh overall.
The opening of the pit window saw teams making not only driver changes, but also tyre changes, as deteriorating conditions demanded a full wet setup. During their pit stop, Clazzio Racing lost significant time, dropping down three places into fourth. This allowed GDL Racing Team’s Rik Breukers to pull ahead and put his teammate Nigel Farmer into a comfortable lead, with Van Buuren of Lazarus now in second and Gersekowski in third. However by lap twenty one, Yazid’s teammate Kei managed to pull back a spot and hold it till the end of the race, allowing them to secure a podium finish. In the final few laps an unfortunate error cost Goddard four places, dropping into thirteenth overall.
The final results saw GDL’s Pro-Am team of Farmer and Breukers take the chequered flag and the first win of the 2017 season, rewarded for their consistent performance. They were followed by Lazarus’ Pro drivers Janosz and Van Buuren in second and Clazzio Racing’s Yazid and Kei in third, after perhaps the fiercest battle of the race unfolded between the Van Buuren and Kei in the closing laps, with the two cars finally crossing the line side by side, with less than 0.03s separating them. In the Am class, it was X-One Racing Team’s Wong and Haryanto taking the win, followed by Top Speed Racing’s Chou and Chan in second and PSC Motorsports’ Sereethoranakul brothers in third. Among the Lamborghini Cup class drivers, Top Speed Racing’s Weeraborwornpong took first, followed by Arrows Racing’s Choi and Chan in second and Tedco Racing’s Bill Ng in third.
With race two action starting on Sunday at 14:10 local time, drivers and teams have less than 24 hours to prepare their cars and their strategies for the next battle.
Follow the action live as it happens at http://squadracorse.lamborghini.com/live-streaming