Jonathan Venter Makes Triumphant Return to the Podium in Japan
Jonathan Venter made a triumphant return to the podium at the Fuji Speedway in Japan this weekend. A flawless race two stint saw him fend off the GT Asia series field to take a commanding second place podium and get his championship challenge reignited. Venter started race one from P5, battling the elements to masterfully guide his Bentley around Fuji before handing over to his teammate who finished the race in P6. Venter’s teammate, Keita Sawa, started race two from P3 and managed to run a strong stint in second before handing over to the young Australian. With his blistering pace, Venter was able to open up a sizeable gap on P3 and comfortably cross the line in second place to see him proudly stand on the podium once again.
Venter was out first in the #8 Bentley to determine his race one starting position and the young driver managed to set a time of 1:53.847, which was good enough for P5.
Keita Sawa had a strong qualifying run in the second session, to score P4 on the start grid and give the #8 pair a good shot at success on Sunday.
The lights went out at a wet Fuji Speedway and Venter was off to a flying start, darting around the outside into turn one and gaining a couple of positions in the process. Unfortunately, he was forced wide at turn two and off the track, dropping him back to P4 but keeping him in well and truly in the fight. With conditions slowly worsening, Venter nimbly steered the big Bentley around Fuji and retained his P4 position before handing over to his teammate just after the pit stop window opened. Sawa, who has a great deal of experience at Fuji pushed the #8 Bentley to the finish and after battling some front end damage, finished the 60 minute sprint race in P6 to score some valuable points for the pair’s championship campaign.
Race One Quotes
Jonathan Venter, #8 Bentley Continental GT3
“Started in P5 and I got off to a good start, had a bit of contact at turn two which pushed me off the track but I managed to get it up to P4 and hand it over to Sawa-san. From there we seemed to struggle a bit with pace and with the 16 second success penalty we got pushed back a bit and finished P6, which was ok. For race two we have no success penalty and will start from P3.”
Sawa would be tasked with the first stint of race two, this time in dry conditions and from P3 on the grid (an engine change from another competitor moved them up a position). It was another good start for the #8 Bentley and Sawa managed to secure P2 for himself on the first lap. From here, Sawa drove consistently and without fault to maintain second place before handing over to his teammate. After a flawless stop from the Bentley Team Absolute crew, Venter was on a charge to the podium but was briefly passed by Duncan Tappy in the #10 Bentley. The GT Asia young gun was unfazed, getting his head down and upping the pace, before lining up Tappy a few laps later for a textbook overtaking manoeuvre. Venter was unstoppable from here, edging out a considerable gap over those behind him before taking the chequered flag in P2 for his third podium of the season. This was a resounding return to form for Venter, taking a considerable number of points and revitalizing his championship charge before the series hits Shanghai next month.
Race Two Quotes
Jonathan Venter, #8 Bentley Continental GT3
“Really happy with result, Sawa-san got off to a really good start to get into P2 but there was some damage to the front end of the car, which affected aerodynamics and the pace. The Lamborghini built a big gap and Sawa-san handed the car over to me in P2. I was passed by Duncan Tappy but a few laps later I was able to regain P2, but from there the Lamborghini was too fast. All in all pretty happy with P2, good for the championship points and good for the team after some recent bad luck. Onwards to Shanghai, which we can head into with a bit more confidence.”
Ingo Matter, Team Principal of Bentley Team Absolute
“Brilliant race two, we could see right from the start that Sawa had some great pace. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do much about the Lamborghini. Jonathan did an awesome job in his stint and to overtake Duncan Tappy, who is an ex works driver and has a lot of experience with the Bentley speaks for itself. I think we did the best we could today, Jonathan kept it safe among teammates and he made a clean move stick and pulled away.”