Following several near-misses, BMW Team Studie’s Takayuki Kinoshita and Sunako Jukuchou finally scored their maiden GT4 wins, and in the best way possible on home soil. It was also the first Blancpain GT Series Asia victory for the new M4.
A delighted Kinoshita commented on his race, “It is overwhelming for the team to win at Suzuka, we had come very close before but never achieved it. And it was a great race today; I enjoyed fighting with Ryuichirou [Ohtsuka], who’s a good driver, and we had so much fun overtaking some GT3s at the start of the race!
“We also had some light contact, but that was all fun, fair racing. At least for me, it was fun!”
Ryuichirou Ohtsuka started on pole but had slipped to third behind Kinoshita and Brian Lee by the end of lap one. The opening stint was characterised by the GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT4 yo-yo-ing around the top-four before finally latching on to the leading BMW just before the pit window opened.
A 15 second success penalty for winning at Buriram versus Team Studie’s unhindered pitstop allowed Jukuchou to emerge with a clear track behind him, and although Reinhold Renger worked hard to reduce the deficit, the BMW still took the chequered flag amidst jubilant scenes five seconds ahead.
Team-mates Ken Urata and Max Chen completed an excellent day for Team Studie by coming home third after also serving a success penalty, while Tony Fong and Lee’s TTR Team SARD Porsche ended up fourth ahead of Gilles Vannelet and Ringo Chong, who was spun around by Craft-Bamboo’s Mercedes-AMG before the pitstops.