Llosa and McKenna Inch Closer to Title with Suzuka Win

Ricardo Llosa and Jordan McKenna claimed their fourth victory of the season, and their first of the season after starting from pole position, as they lead home a 1-2 result for Union Saver Developments at the Suzuka Circuit.

It would be a strategy call on the second round of pit stops that made all the difference for the defending champions, as they were able to pit one lap before the then leading Scuderia Vittore Ferrari of Denis van Walwijk and Lorenzo Crescenzi and comfortably clear the previously leading Factory Ferrari en route to victory. It was a reverse of fortune compared to the first round of pit stops, which saw the Vittore team play the undercut compared to their direct rivals and allow Lorenzo Crescenzi lead for the duration of the middle stint of the race while Jordan McKenna struggled to get into the top three battling with James Davies for the duration.

When given the clean air after their second pit stop, the American would pass his teammate and team owner Karl Lichter Shultz at the S-Bends after the second Factory Corvette pitted the lap before, also gaining big track position, meaning there was no one holding the reigning champions back from winning the race. The second Union Saver Corvette pitting a lap before would also prove pivotal, as both cars were well clear of the battling pack behind, securing Chevrolet the maximum yield in the Manufacture’s Trophy with the 1-2 result. The Van Walwijk/Crescenzi Ferrari would finish Third overall.

Winning in the Independents Class would be the Commonwealth Corvette of Darren Older Jr. and Ito Shidehara, they were the class of the Independent field throughout the day even though it wasn’t clear sailing throughout. Shidehara would get spun around by the Scuderia Belgio Ferrari driven by Massimo Munari at the hairpin, resulting in a 15 Second Penalty being given to the Ferrari, and Shidehara having to make up for lost time.

The time lost wouldn’t be a factor when the third stint would come around, as everyone behind the top two had to deal with the Gulf Racing Saleen who found themselves leading in class once the pit stops cycled out. The Gulf Racing crew brought in their Saleen S7-R at the earliest opportunities during each pit window and made massive gains in the free air, eventually putting them third overall. Roland Davidson would eventually succumb to the pressure put on by cars behind and would be passed by van Walwijk and Darren Older Jr. in the last laps before getting spun out of second place in class by James Davies at the Hitachi Chicane on the Last Lap. The number 3 Delacroix-Serrano Maserati would get a 15 second penalty, dropping them out of the points and would re-promote the Gulf Saleen to eighth overall when taking into account the penalty for the Belgio Ferrari.

The other main beneficiaries of the penalties would be the Solvalou Lamborghini of Antonio Fazio and Enrico Molinaro, and the Kjellerup Saleen of Mattias Kjellerup and Steffen Belsø who found themselves outside the top 10 come the checkered flag after a pair of quiet races but were promoted into the points as a result of the penalties. The penalized pair of the Delacroix-Serrano Maserati and Belgio Ferrari would finish twelfth and thirteenth respectively after their penalties were taken into account.

Two of the main title protagonists suffered massive blows to the championship bids during the race. The lead Solvalou Lamborghini of Stefan Kuntz and Aurelien Moll suffered a spin at turn one at the start of the race after Kuntz tried to make an overtake on the Gerald Pereria Lister of Shane Sparks. The German would trail brake in turn 1 as the field slowed down for turn two and spin onto the paved runoff and resuming at the back of the pack. He would make little progress up the pack, having troubles overtaking the cars at the rear of the field before retiring with a suspension failure caused by wheel to wheel contact. The lead Gerald Pereria Lister of Fabian Rei and Ryota Wong suffered their second straight engine failure after encountering the same mechanical failure at the last round in Zhuhai, China.

Race Results – After 62 Laps

11MLlosa/McKennaUnion Saver2:02:14.862
22MShultz/RibeiroUnion Saver+2.494
327MVan Walwijk/CrescenziVittore+6.716
456IOlder Jr./ShideharaCWG+8.825
520MSparks/CarvillGerald Pereria+9.481
641IAdhikari/HortinBest In The World+15.835
711IHorford/LomasBest In The World+16.994
135IVan Dycke/MunariBelgio+31.736
154MRoda/FM VoecklerDelacroix-Serrano+35.305
1691IHirvonen/SimmonsGlobex Scorpio+35.669
2297IMelvanov/KabirovChris Short+48.754
2412IMagnus/GardinAeroracing+1 Lap
2528MAL Voeckler/ValentiVittoreEngine
2719MRei/WongGerald PereriaEngine
2817IBoveri/SchillingICE-3Accident Damage

Fastest Lap – Car 1 (Union Saver Corvette – Llosa/McKenna) – 1:52.778

Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race – Roland Davidson and Antonio Bizzarri:  Took advantage of great pit strategy and put themselves in a strong position to end up on Independent Podium, if it wasn’t for that last corner spin.

Reject of The Race- Stefan Kuntz: Spun himself out at the first turn of the race, and then the spent the race of the race trying way too hard trying to make up ground. His car gave up on him for being too aggressive around cars he has no right to be losing so much time around.