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Suzuka 10 Hours: Hours 4-5, Audi Taking Charge

But battles galore behind

Just after the hour, Josh Burdon pitted from third after a great stint in the #35 KCMG Nissan handing the car over to Tsugio Matsuda.

Matt Campbell was the last of the lead group to pit, from second in the #912, putting the Tomczyk/ Mies battle back into second and third, Dennis Olsen despatched in the Absolute Porsche.

Drama for the #11 McLaren, Ishiura pulling to a brief stop before restarting the car, electronics issue?

Elbows were out for Raffaelle Marciello in the chicane, a near Senna/ Prost moment seeing the #999 taking no prisoners in passing Kobayashi’s #00 Goodsmile Mercedes, both off the road as the encounter wound out, the #999 car getting away the more cleanly and taking the place and taking advantage after exceeding track limits?

Kobayashi meanwhile found his mirrors immediately very full of Imperatori’s #018 KCMG Nissan, the Swiss getting alongside through turn 1, and after a little more elbow action, passing for 5th soon afterwards.

Marciello had gapped the pair and was off in pursuit of third-place Chris Mies, but he would be dealt a 5 second time penalty to be taken at the #999s next pit call.

Jordan Pepper meanwhile was looking for a way by Maxi Goetz. The #107 Bentley all over the rear for the #77 Craft Bamboo AMG.

Lap 97 and van der Linde pitted with a 20-second lead, Vervisch taking over the wheel of the #25, Tomczyk back to the lead, with Mies right on his tail. The BMW though was soon to pit to hand over to Farfus.

Vervisch meanwhile was pounding out the times, the fastest lap of the race thus far came on lap 100, 2:03.194, the Audi back into the lead and rapidly pulling a gap on Dennis Olsen in second.

Eduardo Liberati was getting into contention in the second KCMG Nissan, going by Kataoka in the Goodsmile AMG for 8th deep into Hour 4.

A further minor woe for the McLaren, a drive-through for pitlane speeding, was matched by an identical sanction for the #5 GTNet Nissan.

Next to draw attention to themselves were the now three-car battlers for fourth, Farfus and Haase had caught Matsuda and whilst the Brazilian was looking for a way by the GTR Nissan, Haase saw the opportunity to take advantage to try to pass the BMW man.

It almost worked out of Spoon Corner but Farfus’ pressure paid as the next lap was started, the Nissan man washing out wide through Turn One, the BMW/ Audi train powering by, with fourth and fifth becoming third and fourth next time around as Molina pitted from third in the #777 Car Guy Ferrari.

By the end of the fourth hour Grenier, aboard the #75 SunEnergy1 AMG led Silver Cup, 14th overall despite a drive-through.

 Come Ledogar led in Pro-Am in the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin, 20th overall.

Norio Kubo led in Am, 27th overall in the #112 SATO-SS AMG.

Hour 5 saw Vervisch continue to impose his authority on the race, the #25 WRT Audi 35 seconds clear by the next half hour with Farfus now second, after the second-placed Porsche made its latest stop, Haase still hanging on behind.

Liberati meanwhile was finding it tricky to keep with the pace, he’d lose places to Steven Kane and Tristan Vautier slipping back to 9th in the #018 KCMG Nissan, then garaged at the next stop – a problem, yes, suspension-related it seems.

Adrian Henry D’Silva had a stumble, through the gravel trap at T4 in the #43 Strakka AMG losing time but no position.

20 minutes to the halfway point and Vervisch pitted after a storming stint, Laurens Vanthoor climbing aboard, Farfus into the lead, for now, the #25 back out in fourth but with the #125 Audi, Hasse-Winkelhock and #999 AMG, Marciello-Engel, also pitting next time around, and Farfus handing over the #42 BMW to Nick Yelloly, the Audi would be back to the front in just two laps, The new BMW man fourth behind two cars. The #912 Porsche (Werner) and #35 Nissan (Chiyo), pitting out of sequence but providing some useful traffic for WRT as Winkelhock closed in on the BMW from behind too in the Absolute-run #125 R8 LMS.

Chiyo’s perfectly legitimate defence of third saw Winkelhock able to close in fast, the gap down to 2 seconds as Yelloly put the nose of the #42 inside a defending Nissan man at T1, contact, the GTR unsettled, saw the BMW through and immediately pulling clear, leaving Winkelhock with the challenge of finding a way around the Nissan for fourth with Engel now closing in fast.

The Audi man’s attack saw more spirited Nissan defence, but the loss of momentum for both saw the AMG leapfrog both before the Nissan got by the #999 again just before the halfway mark.