Reigning GT World Challenge Asia champion Anthony Liu won the damp and foggy 60-minute race at Fuji on Sunday after a thrilling battle for the lead in the final minutes of the race.

By Steven Walton

Damp and foggy conditions persisted throughout the second GT World Challenge Asia race in Fuji on Sunday.

A safety car was deployed within the first 10 minutes of the race when the #777 D’Station Racing Aston Martin spun – an incident which also eliminated Saturday’s race winners, Leo Ye and Yuan Bo in the #87 Origine Motorsport Porsche.

After this, pro factory drivers dominated the top spots, with Jules Gounon, who drives the #22 Climax Racing Mercedes, leading from Maro Engel in the #30 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes.

Behind them, Luca Stolz battled hard with the Porsches of Patrick Pilet, Jaxon Evans and Alessio Picariello.

The pro drivers all made their mandatory pitstops at the last possible moment, with about 26 minutes to go in the race, handing over to their Am co-drivers.

Another safety car was deployed shortly after the pit stops when a car stopped on track and the race got underway again with 15 minutes to go.

At the restart, Cao Qi, who shares the #30 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes with Maro Engel, passed Wang Zhongwei in the #22 Climax Racing Mercedes to take the race lead.

With five minutes to go, Cao was caught by reigning GT World Challenge Asia champion Anthony Liu, who shares the #1 Absolute Racing Porsche with Picariello.

Liu’s rise through the field was sublime. After the safety car restart, he rose from sixth to second in about 10 minutes.

With less than five minutes to go, Liu and Cao engaged in a thrilling battle for the race lead. It lasted for about half a lap and the lead changed three times.

But, the battle was neutralised with three minutes to go when an FCY was deployed for debris on the track.

The race returned to green with about 20 seconds to go and Liu beat Cao to the chequered flag by 1.2 seconds.

Franky Cheng finished third in the #36 FAW Audi Sport Asia Racing Team car he shares with Adderly Fong. This is the third overall podium of the year for the Silver class pairing.

The pole-sitting #888 Triple Eight JMR Mercedes of Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim and Luca Stolz finished fourth overall, ahead of the fifth-placed #77 Harmony Racing Ferrari, driven by Jiatong Liang and Kailuo Luo.

The #22 Climax Racing Mercedes, which led early in the race, finished sixth while the #4 Origine Motorsport Porsche, which has won two races already this year, finished seventh after a costly half spin while battling for position.

The TEAM 5ZIGEN Nissan driven by Hirobon and Yu Kanamaru won the Silver-Am class, while the Am class win went to William Porter and Andrew MacPherson in the AMAC Motorsport Porsche.

A full replay of the race is available here.

GT World Challenge Asia heads to Suzuka for its next round on July 5-7.

Header image credit; GT World Challenge Asia/SRO Motorsports Group

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