Team closes up on Clearwater Racing points lead.
Two-time GT Asia Series champion Mok Weng Sun and 2014 co-driver Keita Sawa took their third round win of the season during race two at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, in the process, reducing the points deficit to Clearwater Racing teammates Rob Bell and Hiroshi Hamaguchi to just 11-points, however they retain their position at the top of the championship points table.
In the end the race came down to the team that was best able to manage their Yokohama tyres, such was the heat and intensity of competition at the front of the field. With three sets of tyres available, some teams gambled in the opening 60-minute race to change four-tyres at the compulsory pit stop [CPS], whilst others elected to take that option in race two.
The ‘success’ parity incurred by Saturday’s three podium place-getters also had an impact, with race winners Frank Yu and Stefan Mucke, second-placed Davide Rizzo and Anthony Liu, and third-placed Bell and Hamaguchi all incurring an additional penalty during their CPS, something which provided Mok and Sawa all the motivation they needed to challenge for the round win.
“We had a game plan going in,” Mok explained. “We knew that with car 37 [Liu/Rizzo] and car 32 [Hamaguchi/Bell] having a success penalty during the pit stop that it was a really, really good shot for us, and my goal going in was to not let Anthony [Liu] run away too quickly. The game plan at the beginning of the race was to stay within five seconds of him because we knew that they had nine seconds extra during the pit stop.
“I think we were fortunate that he [Liu] got bottled up a little bit by the Porsche at the start. We had a race pace that was really quite good in my stint and I managed to keep within two to three seconds of Anthony. We knew that after we made our stop we would come out in front. We saw that the other podium finishers from yesterday were a bit further down the order, so we focused on car 37 and nobody else, and I think it worked out right.”
Despite their advantage, the battle came all the way down to the wire, with NB Team’s Max Wiser crossing the line just over a second behind Sawa, with compatriot Davide Rizzo third, the Italian recovering from a slow pit stop which Liu felt may have cost them their third round win of the year.
“I had the race tyres on from the second half of yesterday, so it was difficult to overtake the Porsche on new rubber,” Liu admitted. “We lose everywhere on the high speed sections as a result, but what really cost us victory was a wheel-nut problem during the pit stop. I think we lost more or less 20-seconds.”
Takuma Aoki and Ken Urata took a well deserved victory in GTM and 15th overall.
“I am very happy, especially as I did not come to the track until Saturday morning where I drove the car in heavy rain,” Aoki admitted with a smile. “I am very happy for the team, and my team-mate.”
Urata had completed all of practice on Thursday and Friday, ultimately helping the team to the top qualifying position for the class in the wet, but until the driver interviews no-one could quite understand why he was so excited on exiting the car at race end.
"I have been driving for many, many years, and this is my very first race win, so I cannot thank my team-owner Dilantha Malagamuwa, and my partner Takuma Aoki enough, I am just so happy!”
Second in GTM was reigning class champion Wayne Shen, with 2013 title-rival Francis Tjia in third place.
The championship now enjoys a four week break ahead of event five on the 2014 calendar, right back at Sepang International Circuit (September 12-14) where many of the drivers will contest the MMER Sepang 12-Hour in two weeks time, including reigning 12-hour champion Mok Weng Sun.