It was a hectic first race of the day when the GT3 Asia and the GT4 Asia Cup took to the Autopolis International Circuit for their first race of the weekend. Dilantha Malagamuwa claimed the Round 7 win ahead of Championship leader Tunku Hammam for the full 18 points with an added point he received for pole.
Third place was claimed by Craft Racing Hong Kong driver, Samson Chan, who overtook his troubled teammate Frank Yu when the latter suffered from a puncture after coming together with a back marker on the second last lap.
The GT4 Asia Cup Round 5 race was won by the Concord Dynaten Motorsports duo of Ryan Marsden and Mark Williamson. They crossed the line completing 19 laps and just 0.187 seconds ahead of teammate Simon Waters and Team Road & Track driver Daniel Bilski in third.
It was battle all the way through the grid and the mixed grid of GT3 Asia and GT4 Asia Cup making it an even more interesting challenge. Race winner Malagamuwa summed up his race in just one word “Perfect”.
The obviously elated driver was smiling contentedly and after having had such a troubled year, was relieved to finally take his first win in his Lamborghini LP560. “This is the first win for me in GT3, the last time I won was in the GTM class. When I got this new car, the last time, I was hit from behind. Anyway, I am so happy because at least I started winning in the GT3, this is perfect”.
Malagamuwa and Hammam had a good battle, switching positions a few times before Malagamuwa made a move stick midway through the race and held the position all the way to the end, despite having to go through traffic.
“I had a nice battle with Hammam, on lap three I had a good lead but then I spun by myself and Hammam took me. I knew it was not easy to take him so I had to do it within one try so it was a little bit of a risky move but I got through him and then again when we got to the back markers”.
Hammam too seemed happy with his podium finish, the Arrows Racing driver was more concerned with maintaining his Championship lead than an all out win. “Basically Dilantha was a little bit faster than me. I just wanted to finish this race, I am going for the Championship and also I am 100kgs heavier than Dilantha so he is a bit faster.
“But I did give him a fight for quite a few laps. He passed me and I passed him back but in the end I thought I didn’t want to risk anything towards this race because the Championship counts. In the end I finished second and I am happy”.
Third placed finisher, Samson Chan credited his podium finish partly to luck on his part. Chan was behind his teammate Yu for the second half of the race before Yu got caught up with a backmarker. “I was lucky because Frank had a little bit of a problem with another car and he had a puncture in one of his tyres, so I ended up third on the podium, so it was perfect.
“We will try to get back on the podium and as you know, in a race anything can happen. The Ginetta’s are good for this circuit because its twisty and you need to be smooth and its not just power. So we look forward to the next race” ended Chan.
Meanwhile in the GT4 Asia Cup, the pairing of Ryan Marsden and Mark Williamson proved to be strong when they nabbed the win right at the last turn of the last lap from Concord Dynaten Motorsports teammate, Simon Waters.
Williamson took the first stint and managed to open up a 12 second gap from Waters and even further ahead of Team Road & Track driver, Daniel Bilski. Positions changed when the pit-stop window opened with Williamson staying out longer to make up for time.
By the time the changes were made and Marsden has taken the wheel for the second stint, they managed to maintain the lead right until lap 17 when the drivers were bunched up and Waters took first. He led all the way to the final turn of the last lap but disaster struck when he missed a gear, leaving Marsden to claim the win.
“Our Concord Energy car was fantastic! We had a brilliant start and I had a little advantage having a little more horsepower over my front row sitter (Bilski), so I was able to get a nice lead off the start.
“We are very very happy. I guess that enabled me to give the car to Ryan in a pretty good shape and for him to go on and do a fantastic job as well to finish the event off” concluded Williamson.
“I jumped in the car for the second stint, the tyres were starting to wear so it was getting a little bit slippy. We’ve also had to contend with the GT3 cars, you got to keep on your mirrors, back markers to pass. I had a moment towards the end where I had a proper wiggle coming out of the corner and nearly lost the car” continued Marsden of the second stint.
“It was a fulfilling race, to be sitting here and action packed” he concluded.
Waters seemed a little disappointed at losing what would have been his first win with the mistake he made. “I drove the best race I could have driven, so coming out of the last corner, instead of coming out in third gear, I went third, fourth, fifth and lost the drive. I came in second, which is a nuisance.
“To get your first win in a foreign country like Japan, on a circuit like this is something you don’t give up on. But I am very happy with the race, it was brilliant racing with Daniel” ended Waters.
For Bilski, coming into the weekend, he led the Championship but with the points on offer, he could not afford to make any mistakes. He was nonetheless happy with the way the race ended especially after such a good battle with Waters.
“It was an incredibly busy race. I didn’t get a very good start and the Concord guys got a great jump off the flag but from the first corner it was incredibly tight.
“I saw Mark Williamson taking off into the distance but battling with Simon was brilliant and he drove really really well. I think we both respect each other as drivers and were millimetres in at a time. It really was quite hairy but really good fun”.
The GT3 Asia and GT4 Asia Cup race continues later in the day at 4.20pm.