>Veloce Sports-managed racing driver Rory Collingbourne once again impressed during the latest outing for the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia at Fuji in Japan over the weekend, 19th/20th August, with a best result of sixth position enabling the Welshman to retain third in the championship.
At the wheel of the No.2 Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan, Collingbourne and team-mate Ben Gersekowski certainly had the pace to challenge for a brace of top four finishes in Fuji but harsh penalties in both encounters limited the duo to eighth in race one and sixth in the second contest.
While frustrated not to add to the double podium achieved last time out at Chang International Circuit in Thailand as a result of the penalties, one linked to a minor pit-stop infringement and the other a result of a start-line mix-up stemming from a rival competitor, 19-year-old Collingbourne was nonetheless pleased with the consistent points scores which keep him third in the standings.
“Overall, we’ve come out of it OK and got good points to stay third in the championship”, reflected the GT racing rookie, “Fuji is a very difficult track to drive, late apexes at every corner and you have to get the power and balance right – something I’m still getting used to with rear-wheel drive. It’s very good fun though, especially in the wet.
“There are lots of positives to take away. In terms of driving improvement and all-round pace, this was definitely one of my best weekends so far and we’re now looking to go for second in the championship at the next round.”
Collingbourne impressed with his pace in practice, running slick tyres on a wet track, to head a number of highly experienced GT competitors. Gersekowski took the opening qualifying session, setting the grid for round seven, and on a drying track he secured the eighth fastest time.
Saturday’s race got underway following an additional formation lap and Gersekowski moved up into seventh position on the first racing lap. Breaking into the top six the next time around, the Australian remained there up to the opening of the pit-stop window and then moved up into fourth as others served their stops before pitting to hand over the car to Collingbourne on lap 15.
Joining the track as the podium contenders swept into Turn One, Collingbourne emerged in second place but was then edged back to fifth with the others up to full racing speed. Staying within touch of the top four, Collingbourne slipped to sixth where he stayed until lap 23 when he had to serve the penalty linked to the pit-stop which dropped the No.2 car to eighth and fifth in the Pro class.
Collingbourne took qualifying duties for round eight and delivered strong pace on slick tyres in tricky wet conditions, posting the sixth fastest time – only 0.8 seconds shy of pole position. Going on to pilot the first stint in Sunday’s encounter, the Welshman held sixth on lap one and then moved into fifth the next time around before climbing into the top four on lap five.
On lap seven, though, everything went awry when he had to serve a drive-through penalty after officials declared his Lamborghini one of several to have been out of position at the start. Rejoining in 13th position overall, he then made the mandatory driver change stop from 11th place on lap 12 and Gersekowski subsequently went on to climb through to sixth, fifth in Pro, before the finish.
“We had a very harsh punishment in race one, we knew it was a close call but a stop-go was too harsh in my opinion for being just seven tenths too quick at the exit of the pit stop, and I couldn’t get my head around the penalty I received in race two”, reflected Collingbourne, “The second placed car in charge of row formation was out of place, which meant fourth place and myself followed close behind ready for the rolling start.
“In my opinion, the race directors should have abandoned the race start and made us all do another formation lap and make sure the P2 car was correctly placed. Instead, they allowed the race to begin and then gave myself, the P4 and P2 cars drive-through penalties – it was unfair as it ended our race. In the first race, there were two abandoned starts for cars being out of place at the back of the grid so I can’t understand why they didn’t do the same for us in race two.”
Shanghai International Circuit in China will host the penultimate event of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia season over the weekend 23rd/24th September.