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Circuit of the Americas. 30 September 2020
April 19, 2018


Two-time World GT champion Risto Kappet has climbed to the top of the standings with a complete reversal of fortunes in Suzuka.
The race was bound to shake things up with championship leader Kevin Ryan having to serve a back of the grid penalty picked up from Bathurst.

The closest qualifying of the season so far was headed by STAX drivers Chris Shepherd and Nico Barclay, who both continue to impress by stepping up their pace in the super competitive field.

As the flag dropped, it was Kappet who snatched pole, only to be beaten by Arne Schoonvliet moments later. A great showing for the Belgian who has so far not been high up the order in qualifying but has made up for it with great race pace. Kappet was second, followed by Shepherd who missed a shift on his final blistering hotlap. Alen Terzic was back in the sharp end of the grid in fourth, now in the MadCape AMG with Nico Barclay in fifth.

A newcomer to the series, Matteo Caruso from Italy did very well to qualify his Epic Radical sixth, two places ahead of experienced teammate Borja Milan. Championship leader SimTech´s Mateusz Bogusz was P13 with another ACR Zakspeed replacement Miguel de los Rios in 18th.

The race start was without drama at the top of the field with Schoonvliet leading the train from Kappet, Shepherd and Barclay. In the back meanwhile, championship leader Kevin Ryan had already gotten past a heap of cars in one sector before getting into a slide in the middle of another passing manouver and doubleshifting down in the progress, blowing his engine and putting an end to his race on the very first lap. The same fate fell upon Matteo Caruso on lap 9, who had a flawless race until that point.

Schoonvliet was the first one to break at the top though, sliding wide in turn one on lap six, handing Kappet the lead. The racing continued with Schoonvliet and Shepherd seemingly faster than the new leader, but Kappet was relentless in his defense. On lap 20, a failed peek into the Spoon corner put Schoonvliet off and allowed Shepherd to get close into 130R and pull off a great overtake into the last chicane.

Shepherd was not able to close up to Kappet nearing the hour mark though, as the Estonian had preserved his tyres better with his slow driving. Shepherd was the first to pit on lap 27 with Mercedes drivers Kappet and Schoonvliet following on lap 28. With one lap less fuel to add, Kappet stretched his lead from Shepherd by four seconds while Schoonvliet went the opposite direction on strategy and opted to change tyres, adding 20 seconds to his stop.

The race seemed on a plate for Kappet after Shepherd made a mistake and handed second place to Barclay, but Belgian Schoonvliet had superior speed on the new tyres and after some good racing, got past the STAX drivers to chase for the lead. Kappet was saved by the bell with only a 2.5 second lead from Schoonvliet. The STAX duo scored a 3-4 with Barclay beating Shepherd by five seconds and Epic Radical of Borja Milan in fifth another five seconds behind, very narrowly beating the McKinlay Mclaren of Osvaldo Angelone. David Francic scored another great race in seventh with his old teammate Alen Terzic in eighth. The second SimTech of Mateusz Bogusz had a successful climb up to ninth while ACR Zakspeed's Miguel de los Rios got into several accidents which only allowed him to score a single point in P15.

A new entry replacing the absentee Nitor Velox, Rowen GP, scored their first points first time out with Mike Bell in P12.

The result propels Kappet to the drivers championship lead by 15 points ahead of Kevin Ryan, with Arne Schoonvliet only six behind him.

ACR Zakspeed also take the lead in the teams championship but with only one point, owing to the stable performances of SimTech Mateusz Bogusz.

Next up in two weeks is Road Atlanta, a new venue in World GT.

Full results: HERE.

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