Intercontinental GT Challenge

Team WRT Audi Leads At Suzuka 10 Hour Half-Way Mark (25.08.19)

Dries Vanthoor, at the wheel of the #25 Audi Sport team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 he shares with Kelvin van der Linde and Frederic Vervisch led the BH Auction SMBC Suzuka 10 Hours, the penultimate round of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge, at the half-way mark, nearly 35 seconds ahead of the #912 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, Dirk Werner driving as the clock hit five hours.

Nick Yelloly, driving the #42 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3, completed the top three, 4.995 seconds further back. Just after the five hour mark, the #42 car was served with a pit-stop penalty and was also being investigated for an incident involving the #35 KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.

The Silver Cup class continued to be led by the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Nico Bastian while the Pro-Am Cup class saw a close battle between the leading #188 Garage59 Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR, Alexander West at the wheel at the half-way mark, and the #43 Strakka racing Mercedes driven by Adrian Henry D’Silva. The Am Cup class was led by the #112 SATO-SS SPORTS Mercedes, Atsushi Sato driving at the five hour mark.

Martin Tomczyck, driving the pole-sitting #42 Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3, led the field at the start with Nicky Catsburg, piloting the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW moving into second.

There was drama during the opening laps when the #51 AMAC Porsche 997 GT3 R spun at the Esses and then was hit on rejoining the circuit by the #88 JKLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with Dennis Lind at the wheel. The #88 JOC Lamborghini was served with a stop-go penalty as a result.

The first major casualty of the race occurred after ninety minutes. Contact between the #88 JLOC Lamborghini driven by Dennis Lind and the #5 GNET Motorsports Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 at Spoon Curve resulted in a spin for both cars. Race leaders Augusto Farfus in the 42 Team Schnitzer BMW and Christian Krognes in the #34 Walkenhorst BMW were close behind and although Farfus was able to avoid the incident, Krognes was not so fortunate. Damage to the Walkenhorst BMW meant that Krognes had to head for the garage and the #34 car was later retired.

The race was neutralised after nearly two and a half hours had been run after contact between the #27 HubAuto Corsa Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Nick Cassidy and Jacky Yeung in the #98 Arrows Racing Honda Acura NSX GT3. The #98 Acura was served with a drive-through for causing the collision and also sustained significant damage to the front right corner.

Mika Hakkinen, focus of much media attention over the course of the weekend, enjoyed a solid stint in the #11 Planex SmaCam McLaren 720S GT3 and handed over the #11 car to teammate Katsuki Kubota in P4.

With the race having passed the four-and-a half hour mark, Frederic Vervisch, at the wheel of the #25 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 held a lead of just under 38 seconds ahead of August Farfus in the #42 Team Schnitzer BMW with Christopher Haase in the #125 Absolute Racing Audi in third.

The Silver Cup class was led by the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mikael Grenier at the wheel of the car he shares with Kenny Habul and Nico Bastian.

There was disappointment for the #018 KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 which was pushed back into the garage after running in 14th. Attention was being paid to the brakes in what was clearly and unscheduled stop.

As the race approached the fife hour mark, the closest on-track battle was between the #35 KCMG Nissan driven by Katsumasa Chiyo which was running in third, and Nick Yelloly in the #42 Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3. Yelloly put an aggressive move on Chiyo, involving a small amount of contact, on the 135th lap to take third place, after which the British driver started to pull out a gap to the Nissan. The incident was later investigated but no action as taken.