A bruising return to domestic racing for the D'Station Racing Vantage GT3 crew at Suzuka

Sunday, July 17, 2022


This weekend’s eventual return to domestic racing for the D’Station Racing Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 crew of Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii proved itself to be a difficult one at the opening round of the GT World Challenge Asia Series Japan Cup from Suzuka.

With the World Endurance Championship commitments keeping Hoshino and Fujii away from any competition so far this year in Japan, this weekend’s second round of the GTWC Asia Series was their first chance to compete in front of a home crowd with their #47 car.

Opening track sessions of the weekend looked promising as the #47 crew headed the timing screen fresh from their recent racing involvement at the WEC round at Monza just the weekend before. Come Qualifying for Saturdays opening hour long race however, their pace had found a more natural position of tenth for Hoshino to start in the rain.

Under continuing rain, the race got underway to a faltered start as the pole setting Ferrari was spun into the barrier on the exit to turn 1, bringing out the first of several Safety Car interventions. Going back to green, Hoshino soon moved up to P4 overall as he adapted better to the drying conditions than many of his peers around him.

Pitting during the midst of the available pitstop window, Hoshino would hand over the car to Fujii from P4 but with a dilemma of which tyre to use – wets of slicks!!

Presumably going back out on wets, Fujii would be down in eight as former D’Station Racing Super GT racer Kei Cozzolino blasted past on slicks to lap all up to eleven seconds quicker per lap than those on wets to take an unbelievable race win in the drying conditions. For the #47 car, their opening race of the Japan Cup would at least finish with points in P8.

Sundays second one-hour race was also a completely different affair as the rains had gone and the race would be run under blazing skies and a sultry heat. This time Fujii would have the honours, starting from P7 and running as high as P6 before the first Safety Car intervention for a stranded INV class car on track.

Looking faster than the two cars in front, Fujii was unable to pass either for position before the next Safety Car as he would pit from P6.

Quicker in pit lane than some, Hoshino picked up an easy pass in pit lane to move up to P5 and was soon circulating fourth overall as three cars involved in an incident at the Spoon Curve brought out the Safety Car again.

Getting back to green with just eleven minutes remaining, the GT4 class cars were clearly hampering the quicker progress of the GT3 cars behind and in his haste to pass, Hoshino ran wide and onto the grass in his approach into the Spoon Curve to spin and collect the GT4 Mercedes ahead.

Unfortunately for D’Station Racing, what could have been a podium finish ended up being a DNF as a heavily rear damaged Aston Martin was removed from the track as the race finished behind the Safety Car just two laps later.

Next round of the GTWC Asia Japan Cup is next weekend from their home track of Fuji.

Photo credits – Team / GTWCAsia
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