Hello and welcome to Fuji Speedway Japan! The drivers are eager to get out on track and drive to the limit out here in the Japanese mountains. Homeland Hero Yoshiki Sato will be looking to improve on his frankly dismal qualifying last time out and hopefully find himself in contention for some points during the race.
The japanese track has always proved itself to be a mixer upper whenever the touring car series has come here, and this session it was the same story all over again.
Top 10 Rundown
The FAAL’s found their feet here at Japan, enjoying the twisting curves around the back and powering their way to the top four spots on the grid. Factory FAAL driver Franck Keller lead last races winner Bri Neuwvale, with the other factory FAAL of Weismuller taking P3 from Josh Greenburg.
Michael Martins once again proved his worth in placing the Keika as the best of the rest, with a Surprised Aato Laakkonen throwing the Haapala around the track fast enough to split the two Keika’s. Even so, Aato’s time was just over a second down on the polesitters in the dominant FAAL. The second Keika of Jason Jackie was trailing the Finnish driver in seventh.
Eighth place went to the Bramhall of Karel De Lang, who’ll be hoping to make up for the poor performance he had last time out, with the Second Haapala of Issak Seppa placing ninth. The shock was clear across the paddock with joy spreading through the Haapala RRD garage. Rounding out the top 10 was James Ratikin, though he escaped a very close near miss with the sausage kerbs on his first timed lap.
Epoch once again find themselves trailing the rest of the field, with a disheartened Yoshiki Sato finding little solace in being just over 2 tenths slower than his team mate Goldright, with both cars over seven seconds a lap slower than the pole time.
LHE went in expecting to join Epoch at the bottom but were left with mixed feelings once the finals runs were complete. Frederick Ward was struggling in his car, over 4 seconds a lap slower than his team mate Manchen, and only did enough to secure twenty eighth over the two Epochs.
The Australians Bruce and Sharon Kelley filled out P27 and P26 respectively. They’ve proven their cars have the pace to be quicker, but whether they’ll be able to pull more time from their ute around this tricky circuit is another question entirely.
The Fuji folks will be cheering on Yoshiki Sato today, but the rest of the drivers will fighting their owns fights out on track. It’s a FAAL One two three and the next best car is Michael Martins, will he get the jump on lap 1, or will the Keika struggle once again off the line!
Lights out and away we go for the Fuji Speedway WST race and it’s a shocking start from the FAAL of Keller, he’s all but stalled on the line, finally getting going as Bri Neuwvale takes the lead over Jordan Weismuller, with Josh Greenburg taking third! Tyler Freshner has come out of nowhere to jump himself all the way from outside the top 10 to be Position Four by the time they reach the first corner, With Issak Seppa pulling his Haapala up to fifth!
Once again we’re seeing poor starts from the Keika’s they’ve dropped back a couple of Positions whilst Kevin Parsons has thrown his Bramhall Between the Two drivers as they approach the Braking Zone.
We’re five laps in and we have our first retirement here oh no! Jan Kuznitzov pulls off to the side of the track with a blown engine, the smoke pouring from the engine bay is unbelievable, is that fire? There’s fire, The marshalls are there, the onboard extinguishers are activated, that Zanvovanie is out of this race.
Oh my goodness me Aato! Aato Laakkonen after such a heroic drive in qualifying he struggled to get off the line and this could be why, his engine has gone, the engine has gone and he has pulled off to the side of the road, he will not be happy after points were on the card for the Haapala team.
Bri running well, holding position and keeping the times running in. Wait bri’s running not so well now the front suspension’s collapsed and they’ve hit the wall! Bri Neuwvale, she stole the lead from Lap 1 but it wasn’t to be! The Suspension collapsed after hitting the kerb there and when the body drops on the wheels, you can’t do anything to stop the car going out of control. Bri is going to be fuming in that cabin right now, Losing points like this in such a tight battle already! These are the points that will cost the drivers positions in the championship!
There’s another driver in the wall it’s Jamie Hunter! That is so unlucky after a poor start he was pulling that Natori through the field but now he’s just pushed it too hard and it’s ended in tears for the Natori team! They still have one car that could reach the points by Ryan Adams is not performing too well and is still running outside the points.
Heartbreak for one brit near the end of last race, heartbreak for another as a stellar performance from Kevin Parsons is cut short as his Bramhall engine gives up. Just four laps from the end of the race Parsons is going to pull off and end his time at Fuji with disappointment.
Last time it was Bri Nuewvale, this time it’s Josh Greenburg taking to the win here at Fuji! Franck Keller takes his first podium of the season in P2 and is joined by Michael Martins for Keika! Jason Jackie has to settle for fourth to his teammate, with an incredible result for Issak Seppa, finishing in Fifth! I’m sure Haapala will be kicking themselves at the missed opportunity for a double points finish. Jordan Wiessmuller finishes sixth but its close for P7 and Karima Benalli gets its across the line! James Ratikin won’t be too displeased with this result after his crash at brands, however, following Karima in Eighth. Finally its the two VMC’s crossing the line to round out the top ten, with Freshner leading Defoi.
Max Porter finishes P11, followed by Takala, Lara, Flores Jr, with Karel De Lang round out the points paying positions, he’ll be disappointed to not have done better. Bastien Lefèbvre just misses out on the points, with Andrew Kelly not far behind in Seventeenth, then its Islington, Adams, Bruce Kelly, Sharon Kelly, Manchen, Sato, Ward, and Goldright marks the last of the finishers.
This race has been hectic, with the long run to Turn 1, the start was extremely busy but it was a thrilling ride throughout. Now we head to the pitlane with Steven Verhoeven.
Post Race Round Up
SV: Another mad start, another disappointing finish for the pole sitter. Bri Neuwvale was brilliant in qualifying but hit issues half way through the race, a massive disappointment for blue bull. They can find some consolation with the win from Greenburg, but Bri will be back and fighting hard. Haapala once again see a retirement from Aato but this time he could harbour no blame, after bogging on the start the engine gave up only one lap after a vicious fire broke out under the hood of the Zavoevanie. In the end it was Issak Seppa who lead the charge for Haapala, scoring an unbelievable Fifth place.
AM:It is a real shame that Laakkonen wasn’t able to keep going, he seemed to be keeping people honest despite his poor start, but there was no way that thing was going to keep going to the end.
SV: I don’t know what is here but something wasn’t happy with Jan Kuznitzov either, that fire was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in touring cars before, something must have pinched a fuel line because that sort of thing isn’t normal.
EA: I’m just glad they got the fire out and they got Jan out as soon as they spotted it burning.
SV: We have to hand it to the marshalls here today they really did get the job done well. Moving further on in the race, Neuwvale. How hard do you think it is for her? She’s already won a race and stole the lead from Keller with a signature perfect start.
EA: It was a real heartbreak for her, she was leading with miles of time back to her team mate but it just wasn’t to be for her. Michael Martins did well to take the opportunity for another podium, and I think Keika are going to win this through consistency if they can keep that mad little car on the road.
AM: What about the home hero? He was hoping Epoch could make some steps forward here today after failing to finish but he ended up languishing down at the back and was last again in Qualifying.
EA: Personally I think he got the short straw with Epoch. They had issues all through development but they managed to get a car on the grid and who knows what chances might lay ahead of them.
AM: Alright. Steven, can we just turn our attention to the end of the race and what happened with Bramhall driver Kevin Parsons?
SV: That is a very unfortunate circumstance right there, running strong not far down on the leader and then he’s out due to engine failure, you have to feel for the guy he’s just had very little luck so far this season, and after such a strong start compared to his more experienced teammate it just puts salt in those wounds knowing where Karel finished and knowing how much more pace he had over him.
AM: And with that we must wrap up the show, it has been an incredible race. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my time with the wonderful Steven Verhoeven and the magnificent Eddie Austin, I’ve been Alex McKinwell, and we all hope you tune in next time where we head to the Home of Italian Motorsport; Monza.