Climax’s Zhou and Gounon win Safety Car-interrupted second race at Suzuka

GT World Challenge Asia
7 Jul. 2024 • 8:40

Zhou Bihuang and Jules Gounon converted pole position into theirs and Climax Racing’s first Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS victories in Race 2 at Suzuka.


The race finished behind the Safety Car after Sun JingZu rolled his Phantom Porsche on the exit of Degner 2 with 10 minutes left. He walked away unhurt, but the car couldn’t be recovered quickly enough for racing to resume.


Climax’s #66 Mercedes-AMG therefore finished just ahead of Absolute Racing’s Anthony Liu and Alessio Picariello who charged from seventh to second, while Absolute Corse’s post-race penalty in lieu of a one-second stop-go promoted Lu Wei and Laurin Heinrich (Origine Motorsport) to the overall podium.


The result leaves championship leader Lu just one point in front of Liu and Picariello ahead of the penultimate event at Okayama in late August.


Origine’s other Porsche shared by Bob Yuan and Leo Ye Hongli once again cleaned up in Silver-Am and finished an excellent fourth overall ahead of Triple Eight JMR and Team KRC.


Next up was FAW Audi Sport Asia’s Franky Cheng and Adderly Fong who scored maximum Silver points but were denied a chance to move forward from seventh by the Safety Car period.


Am class victory went the way of AMAC’s Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter who maintained the pressure on leader David Tjiptobiantoro.



Gounon started on pole but his lead only lasted for two thirds of the opening lap before Heinrich – whose Porsche had a 10-second success penalty to serve at the pitstops – found a way through.


But his chances of negating that penalty were dealt a blow by an early Safety Car period triggered when D’station’s Aston Martin turned around James Yu whose Audi was then hit by Mineki Okura on the exit of Spoon.


Heinrich managed to pull five seconds clear of Gounon before pitting, but that was only enough for Lu to rejoin fourth behind the Climax Mercedes-AMG now driven by Zhou, Liu’s 911 and the Absolute Corse Ferrari of Andre Canard.


That car started third in Finn Gehrsitz’s hands but lost a position to the rapid Picariello just before pitting. The pass capped an excellent stint for Absolute’s Porsche driver who started seventh, picked up three places on the opening lap, and then completed a particularly eye catching move on Fabian Schiller at the end of the Esses.


Climax’s stationary #52 Mercedes-AMG necessitated a short Safety Car period just after the pit window closed. Racing resumed with 15 minutes remaining.


Liu immediately looked to pass Zhou but couldn’t find a way past, while behind Origine’s Lu and Yuan followed Canard safe in the knowledge of the Ferrari’s impending stop-go. The extra time was ultimately added post-race thanks to the Phantom crash that prevented penalties from being served under FCY conditions.


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