Either end of the GTE Am Class grid for the three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE's at Fuji

Saturday, September 10, 2022


Whilst we have been entertaining ourselves at Brands Hatch with the Aston Martin Racing customer team contingent of the British GT Championship, three AMR Vantage GTE crews have been battling things out over in Japan ahead of the penultimate round of the World Endurance Championship.

Only the second fly away round of the Championship in recent years, this weekend sees the WEC run its fifth round of the year after races at Sebring, Spa Francorchamps, Le Mans and most recently Monza with two of the three AMR crews still very much in contention within their GTE Am class.

Last time out in Italy, we saw the #33 TF Sport prepared car of Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sorenson literally fly out of the race whilst in a strong race position after an issue with the cars brakes saw Chaves (behind the wheel at the wheel at the time) spin and hit a sausage kerb to lift and barrel row down the track. Thankfully the Portuguese driver was otherwise OK – unlike the car with the team having to bring over one of their European Le Mans GTE Chassis as a substitute.

For the sister #777 D’Station Racing crew of Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii and Charlie Fagg, this is their home race around the Fuji International Speedway with the teams Japanese operations based at the circuit. For them, whilst their second year within the Vantage platform has been better, their Championship position has been hindered by untimely errors and damage at Le Mans that took them out of the race during the night. 

The trio is rounded off by the #98 Northwest car of Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard and Nicki Thiim. A podium finish for them at Le Mans but then a lowly points finish in Italy put them just behind the #33 crew in the championship going into the Fuji round.

Free Practice one yesterday saw the #777 crew head the AMR cars (but still only seventh quickest) before FP2 saw the #33 car leapfrog the other two to be third quickest but with the #98 still behind. FP3 earlier today was another odd ball again as all three Aston’s languished amid the thirteen strong pack. The cars slight loss of boost through its revised BoP will have been part of the reason why for this.

Anyway, the best news of the day came later as the #33 car of Ben Keating claimed its third pole position of the season as the American returned a time just 0.062 of a second ahead of the #85 Iron Dames Ferrari and despite having an earlier lap discounted for track limits.

In stark contrast to that however, sees both the #98 and #777 Aston Martin’s starting at the rear of the grid with no Qualifying lap time being entered – the #98 for constant abuse of track limits with excessive speeding within the pit lane and the #777 for having ignored yellow flags and setting his fastest time on that lap.

As usual, tomorrows six hours of Fuji should be more than interesting!!

Photo credits – WEC / A Lofthouse





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