Highly-rated pairing Sean Walkinshaw and Shinichi Takagi remain top of the Super GT300 Championship.
The duo faced a difficult challenge during round three at Suzuka in Japan on Sunday as the legendary Formula One did not suit the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri BMW M6 GT3. So the 300km race was always going to be about consolidation for Chipping Norton driver Walkinshaw and his Japanese team-mate.
We knew coming here it was going to be a struggle and, unfortunately, we were rightSean Walkinshaw
Despite having to settle for an uncharacteristic 20th place finish in Sunday’s race and therefore being unable to add to their points tally, the ARTA duo still departed Suzuka with the GT300 lead, albeit now tied on points with Toyota pairing Takamitsu Matsui and Sho Tsuboi.
Walkinshaw, who arrived at Suzuka as GT300 championship leader after an exemplary victory a fortnight ago at Fuji Speedway, said: “Obviously, it was a bit of a weekend to forget for us. We knew coming here it was going to be a struggle and, unfortunately, we were right.
“For some reason, our car just doesn’t go well around Suzuka, which is a massive shame because the guys worked non-stop to try and make us competitive, but it just wasn’t there this weekend. On the positive side, we are still leading the championship and the next round in Thailand is quite a strong circuit for us, so now I’m fully focused on that.”
Added to the track not suiting the No.55 BMW, Walkinshaw and Takagi also had the headache of 52kg of ballast this weekend due to their championship position post-Fuji, and so a tough outing was always in prospect.
The BMW started Sunday’s race from the tenth row of the GT300 grid, with Walkinshaw and Takagi moving up the field to challenge for the top ten at one stage before finishing 20th.
There is now a six-week break in the calendar with round four set to take place in July at Chang International Circuit in Thailand.