A chaotic start to the Fuji 24 Hours saw many teams dealing with mechanical issues, as Zhongsheng Rookie Racing currently lead the way. Asian Motorsport reviews the action from the first six hours of this headline race.

By Marco Albertini

The Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo took pole for the 7th edition of the Fuji 24 hours on aggregate times with Jeffrey Lee setting the fastest time in the first session and Kakunoshin Ohta second fastest in the last session.

Their efforts put the team on pole, gaining two points towards the championship and leading an all-AMG top three for the start of the race.

A difficult start for many teams

Gtnet Motorsports took the lead of the race early as several cars experienced mechanical problems in the first three hours.

The sole Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 went from fifth to first on the opening lap as pole sitters Craft-Bamboo Racing fell to fifth after enduring a difficult start.

Team ZeroOne’s #25 Nissan Z GT4 became the first car to have serious problems, with smoke exiting out of the car from a tire rub. As a result, the car was pulled into the pits and retired from the race.

Shortly after this, ORC Rookie Racing’s #32 Toyota Corolla – the only hydrogen-powered car on the grid – stopped on the apex of the final corner. Green flag conditions remained as driver Masahiko Kondo got back going; however, it was soon called into the pits to retire from the race.

The first full course yellow was brought out after Team Spoon’s Honda Civic stopped in the runoff of the final chicane and had to be towed out of the track.

Nihon Automobile College’s Honda Civic also experienced issues on their own, losing a front right tire and pulling into the garage temporarily before coming out on track later in the race.

The only car in the ST-1 class, the #2 KTM X-Bow GTX of K’s Frontier KTM Cars, became the fourth car to retire from the race after a very slow lap to the pits.

Zhongsheng Rookie Racing gets ahead as night falls

During all of this, Zhongsheng Rookie Racing managed to jump GTNET MotorSports during the first round of pit stops, with the Akido Toyoda-run team building a big gap to the GT-R behind in the next hours.

Okabe Jidosha Motorsport’s #16 Nissan Fairlady Z stopped on track near Turn two’s runoff, causing a full-course yellow to be brought out. However, it wasn’t long before the car got back going again.

At the six-hour mark, the other Team ZeroOne Nissan Z Nismo caused the third full course yellow after stopping on track after the first corner. Unfortunately, the car was unable to restart and retired from the race.

Header photo credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

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