Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS – Round 2, Fuji International Speedway, Japan
Johor Motorsports Racing has finished on top of the Fuji Speedway podium in race two of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge, after a successful post-race appeal saw His Highness Tunku Abu Bakar Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, the Tunku Putera of Johor, and his race partner Luca Stolz sensationally promoted to the race win.
Late in the chaotic Race 2, a third safety-car call saw Tunku Abu Bakar enter the pits after race control ordered the drivers to divert through pit lane so that car debris could be removed safely from the start straight.
However, Tunku Abu Bakar was one of only four drivers in the 40-car field to immediately heed the orders, and his additional drive-through saw him drop from a potential race-winning position to the back-end of the top 20.
He recovered to provisionally finish the race in 14th, but following a post-race appeal, all 13 cars that finished ahead, after failing to follow the direction from race control, had 30 seconds added to their elapsed race time in lieu of serving a drive-through penalty. This overnight adjustment promoted the #88 Mercedes-AMG powered by Triple Eight Race Engineering car to a satisfying race win.
Tunku Abu Bakar and Stolz have now finished on top of the podium at two of the four GT World Challenge Asia races this year, after their breakthrough victory at the opening round in Thailand last month.
The day prior, Stolz and Tunku Abu Bakar finished 14th in the opening race, after contact with the Team 5ZIGEN car resulted in Triple Eight JMR being handed a drive through penalty.
Meanwhile, His Highness Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim and race partner Richie Stanaway piloted the #888 car to a hard-fought P7 result in Saturday’s Race 1, before spending the majority of Race 2 battling for positions to finish P14.
In the GT3 championship standings, Stolz and Tunku Abu Bakar are placed second, just one point off the lead, while JMR Racing is positioned third in the teams’ championship.
The third round of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia will be held at the Suzuka International Circuit on 14-16 July.
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim: “It was an eventful weekend for the team. I’m happy to achieve another win, and we’re looking forward to our third round in Suzuka next month.”
Luca Stolz: “It has been a challenging time at Fuji, but we proved we have the speed to contend for race wins. I set the fastest time in the practice sessions and was able to set the fastest lap of the race in Race 1. It feels great to have our hard work rewarded with another race win result yesterday. A big thank-you to the whole team for never giving up.”
Roland Dane (Triple Eight Race Engineering founder): “I’m relieved that common-sense prevailed and Prince Abu Bakar was awarded the victory. He did everything right during the race and obeyed the race steward instructions, but at the time was penalised for his actions, while other drivers benefited. He and Luca put in a great race and stayed calm amidst the chaos that unfolded around them. It wasn’t a perfect weekend by any stretch of the imagination, but we learnt a lot and will be stronger for it.”
HH Tunku Abdul Rahman Ibrahim: “It was a tough weekend for me – working to get the pace and trying a few different set ups compared to last round in Buriram. During the race we were stuck in an unfortunate position, and had to just focus on avoiding a lot of the chaos that was happening in front of us to bring the car home.”
Results – 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia, Fuji International Speedway, Japan
Richie Stanaway – P5
Luca Stolz – P10
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P11 HH Tunku Jefri Ibrahim – P18
HH Tunku Jefri Ibrahim/Richie Stanaway – P7 HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim /Luca Stolz – P14
Luca Stolz/ HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P1 Richie Stanaway/HH Tunku Jefri Ibrahim – P14