Hirobon and Kanamaru earn popular Race 1 win for 5ZIGEN’s Nissan GT-R at Suzuka

GT World Challenge Asia
6 Jul. 2024 • 14:36

5ZIGEN’s Nissan GT-R scored a popular and long overdue Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS victory in the first of this weekend’s two 60-minute races at Suzuka.


The entry shared by Hirobon and Yu Kanamaru took full advantage of a Safety Car period and subsequently packed pitlane to leapfrog from third to first before withstanding pressure from both Origine Motorsport Porsches. It took the chequered flag just 0.2s ahead of Lu Wei and Laurin Heinrich’s 911, while Triple Eight JMR’s Mercedes-AMG of Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim and Mikael Grenier completed the podium.


Origine’s second Porsche or the FAW Audi Sport Asia R8 looked set to finish third until Leo Ye Hongli spun Adderly Fong around at Turn 1. The latter, whose co-driver Franky Cheng led the opening stint, ultimately finished 14th – nine places ahead of where the penalised 911 ended up after serving a drive-through.

Both lost ground to fellow title contender Lu but were lucky that erstwhile championship leaders Anthony Liu and Alessio Picariello only finished eighth after serving a 15-second Success Penalty for winning at Fuji.


Lu and Heinrich scored maximum Pro-Am points, while Absolute Racing’s Eshan Pieris and Tanart Sathienthirakul extended their Silver lead by winning the class in seventh overall. Garage 75’s David Tjiptobiantoro and Christian Colombo took Am victory.




Until today, Nissan had just one Fanatec GT Asia win to its name, and that was scored at Fuji back in 2018. 5ZIGEN came close to re-writing that stat at Suzuka last season when its GT-R finished second – a position it then matched earlier this year at Chang. The team led on both occasions but couldn’t quite convert its potential into victory. Not so today.


Hirobon started fourth and took third from Bob Yuan just before Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak triggered the first Safety Car period by sliding into the Hairpin’s tyre barriers. A second followed soon after racing resumed when Yudai Uchida beached VSR’s Lamborghini in the Turn 2 gravel.


That interruption coincided with the pit window opening, which effectively forced all 31 cars to stop at the same time.


A five-second success penalty for finishing third at Fuji dropped race leaders FAW to fourth. Audi Sport Asia colleagues James Yu and Akash Nandy should have been the primary beneficiaries, but their Absolute-run R8 was blocked in by the team’s other entry, gifting 5ZIGEN the lead.


Kanamaru emerged ahead of Ye, whose co-driver Yuan ended the opening stint fourth, Heinrich, Fong, Pieris and Grenier.


Another short Safety Car period triggered by Climax’s stranded Mercedes-AMG meant just eight minutes remained when the race went green for the final time. Kanamaru had already fended off Ye once but had to do so again at the restart when the Porsche enjoyed better traction out of the final corner.


However, Ye’s eagerness to lead meant he perhaps neglected Heinrich who dived down the inside at Spoon. And the loss of momentum then helped Fong follow Origine’s Porsche through at the final chicane. Ye wasn’t giving up lightly, though, and attacked the Audi into Turn 1. His initial lunge failed, but it was the second attempt halfway through the corner that resulted in contact that spun the Audi around and earned the Chinese driver a drive-through penalty.


Ahead, Kanamara spent the final laps fending off Heinrich who made several attempts to take the lead. His best chance came at the final corner on the last lap, but the Nissan won the drag race to the line by two tenths


Behind, Triple Eight JMR’s Ibrahim and Grenier – who started ninth – were the chief beneficiaries of Fong and Ye’s collision. They took the chequered flag 2.4s behind the winners and less than a second clear of Absolute Corse’s Ferrari shared by Andre Canard and Finn Gehrsitz.


Absolute’s other Audi of Huang Ruo Han and Markus Winkelhock came through from 12th to finish fifth, while Porsche Center Okazaki’s Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura rounded out the top six after climbing 10 spots.


Further back, Yu and Nandy were left to rue what might have been in 10th overall.


Results are HERE



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