American ace Kevin Gleason had a highly positive GT Asia Series baptism, as he and teammate Jon Venter skilfully raced their Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 to sixth position at Fuji International Speedway on Saturday (12 July).
The build-up to Rounds 5 and 6 of the flourishing GT Asia Series on Japan’s picturesque Fuji circuit was all-too-brief and there was little opportunity for 28-year old Gleason to acclimatise to his new surroundings, although the Pennsylvanian racer showed glimmers of brilliance while learning the #99 Aston Martin in both wet and dry conditions during the short free practice periods.
From 14th on the Round 5 grid (Saturday 12 July), Gleason remained composed during a frenetic opening lap, while the sister #97 Craft-Bamboo car of Stefan Mücke and Frank Yu sustained front-end damage in an unfortunate collision that would eventually result in retirement on lap 24.
Gleason kept his head down and made rapid progress up the leaderboard, settling into a rhythm and recording consistent lap times during a strong and problem-free initial stint, punctuated by a short Safety Car period.
Craft-Bamboo Racing – an official Aston Martin Racing Partner Team – was tenth as it carried out its compulsory driver-change and it was now up to Venter to pick up where Gleason left off and bring the car home.
The Australian duly obliged and confidently scythed his way through heavy traffic, making one final opportunistic passing move on the rival NB Team Aston Martin at the final corner of the final lap to take the finish in a well-deserved sixth position, to the delight of the emotional Craft-Bamboo team.
Gleason said: “It was a good start – a little hectic in the beginning with a couple of guys running into each other – but that helped me and it was then all about getting into a rhythm and running consistent laps to make our strategy work and achieve a good result.
“To finish in sixth position is an excellent result, especially with the lack of time both Jon (Venter) and I had in the car this week. The driver change made it exciting and having a pit stop means it was a total team effort. As for Round 6 tomorrow (Sunday 13 July), we have better tyres so I think we will be in good shape to get another good result.”
Round 6 of the GT Asia Series is scheduled to be held at 16.25 local time on Sunday (13 July).