Asia: Lamborghini Autopolis summary
LAMBORGHINI DRIVER CROWNED GT3 ASIA CHAMPION Dilantha Malagamuwa dominated the GT3 Asia season finale in his ...
LAMBORGHINI DRIVER CROWNED GT3 ASIA CHAMPION
Dilantha Malagamuwa dominated the GT3 Asia season finale in his #24 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 on 15-17 October 2010 at the Autopolis International Racing Course, Japan, on his way to his first championship title in the series. The Dilango Racing Sri Lanka driver claimed pole position and won all three races to secure the ultimate honours.
As the GT3 Asia season headed to its final race weekend, 55 points were still up for grabs at rounds seven, eight and nine, with the title fight coming down to a race between two Lamborghini drivers. Arrows Racing pilot Tunku Hammam Sulong entered the final showdown with a 20-point advantage, competing in his #1 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4. Hammam Sulong had already secured two wins in previous rounds, and also raced a Gallardo to victory in the 12-hour Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race in Sepang, Malaysia, in August, with co-drivers Peter Kox and Christopher Haase.
Hammam Sulong's closest challenger, Malagamuwa, had an uphill battle in the finale but started his weekend on a high, claiming pole position with a fastest lap of a 1:52.686, while Hammam Sulong's best time of 1:53.820 put him third on the grid. In race one, Hammam Sulong got past the Ginetta of Frank Yu, moving him up to second place, but could not catch Malagamuwa for the lead, eventually finishing 3.1 seconds behind him. In race two, Malagamuwa in the #24 Lamborghini started from pole and pulled away at the start, building a comfortable gap to take his second win of the weekend. Malaysian pilot Hammam Sulong fell down the order at the start due to technical issues and eventually completed the race 12th. His championship lead was narrowed to only five points from Malagamuwa, keeping the title fight open for the final round.
At the start of race three, a mid-field collision caused the safety car to be deployed. Hammam Sulong, running in second, overtook pole-man Malagamuwa under the yellow flags and was consequently penalised with a drive-through penalty. Hammam Sulong missed the signs and failed to serve his penalty within the following three laps, resulting in his disqualification from the race. Malagamuwa went on to claim the race victory in his Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 and with it the GT3 Asia championship title. Micheal Choi and David Lai Tak Seng rounded out an all-Lamborghini podium in race three.
"I really am so happy, I've got no words to express myself," said Malagamuwa. "I couldn't do it alone, my team, my sponsors, the media, everyone. My mechanics, they are just three boys but they are the best, I must thank them. When we came here, Hammam had a 20-point lead and the only thing I was looking for this weekend was to win all three races."
2009 GT3 Asia Challenge Champion Hammam Sulong finished the season in second, while Lamborghini team SPS Motorsport secured second place in the Teams' Championship. Despite running only one Lamborghini Gallardo race car each, Dilango Racing Sri Lanka and Arrows Racing finished their season in fourth and fifth respectively.
The same weekend also brought great success for Lamborghini in France, with JSB Competition drivers Julien Briche and Jean-Claude Lagniez claiming their first victory in the FFSA GT Championship, by winning the final race of the season, held on 17 October at Magny-Cours, France.
Briche set the second fastest lap time of 01:55.5 in qualifying two to put the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 on the front row for the last race. Briche started round 14 in the #4 Lamborghini. The JSB Competition pilot overtook pole-sitter Laurent Groppi at the start and led the race until handing over to team-mate Lagniez at the mandatory pit-stop. The #4 re-joined in the lead and defended well in the closing stages to claim the first victory for a Lamborghini team in the FFSA GT Championship.
Meanwhile, Lamborghini drivers Thierry Prignaud and Romain Brandela finished the season in second place in the FFSA Gentlemen's Trophy, with Gilles Vannelet and Georges Cabanne concluding their 2010 campaign third in the sister Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4.
"As the GT3 Asia championship title shows, Lamborghini race cars are fighting to win all over the world," said Automobili Lamborghini Director of Brand and Design, Manfred Fitzgerald. "With a Drivers' Championship title in the ADAC GT Masters and race wins in several other national series, such as the Italian, Brazilian and now the French championships, Lamborghini is consistently a force to be reckoned with. In addition to the GT3 Asia title, it was extra special to have Lamborghini drivers on every step of podium at the last race in Japan."