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Lilou Wadoux scores first points in Super GT

"We were able to demonstrate the performance of the car, but I want to continue working hard on development so that we can have even better races." - Ferrari factory driver Lilou Wadoux became the first woman to score points in Super GT since 2012, as the Frenchwoman secured a ninth place finish at the three-hour Fuji round, on only her second start in the series.


Lilou Wadoux, PONOS Racing Ferrari 296 GT3, 2024 SuperGT, Fuji Speedway
Photo credits: PONOS Racing

Ferrari factory driver Lilou Wadoux became the first woman to score points in the Japanese premier sport car championship Super GT since 2012, as the Frenchwoman and PONOS Racing teammate Kei Kozzolino secured a ninth place finish at the three-hour Fuji Speedway round.


Wadoux had made her debut in the uber-competitive series last month at Okayama, where the team had shown promising pace especially in the closing stages which saw Lilou moving up the order, recovering from P17 to eleventh place while at the same time managing the traffic of the GT500 class. Despite a difficult qualifying, the season opener had plenty of positives to carry into the second round at Fuji - which would be the first endurance race of the season with a three-hour format.


The 4.563 km-long Fuji Speedway was also more familiar ground for Wadoux, who had the opportunity to log competitive laps in the PONOS Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 in pre-season testing. The team therefore approached the weekend with good expectations.

In the sole free practice session on Friday, in fact, Wadoux and Cozzolino clocked a 1:36.703 lap that put the #45 Ferrari sixth among the GT300 field, just four tenths off the top of the leaderboard and hundredths of a second from the top five.


Under clear skies, the former home of the Japanese Grand Prix proved to be a more favourable course to the Ferrari 296 machine and qualifying was another big step forward: Cozzolino got behind the wheel for Q1 and set a 1:36.502 lap, before Lilou Wadoux kept up the pace and stopped the clock on a 1:36.708 - which put the #45 Ferrari sixth on the grid in the combined results.


In front of 53,900 fans, Wadoux took over driving duties for the start of the race on Saturday, in charge of the start for the first time in Super GT. Hot temperatures - especially for the track surface - made the race a tyre strategy contest, with management playing a crucial role.


At lights out, the #88 JLOC Lamborghini retained the GT300 lead from the #4 Mercedes AMG - in a clean getaway from both the classes that saw the PONOS Ferrari settling into eighth place after Wadoux lost a couple of positions on the opening lap. Lilou, though, immediately showcased her determination and battled with Bruno Spengler's #7 Studie BMW M4 GT3 over the first few laps. The young Ferrari driver matched his pace and remained right on his tail when the traffic of the faster GT500 started by lap 10.


Lilou handled these critical moments with precision, although she fell into the clutches of a three-car group battling for ninth - and fought elbows out with the #52 Green Brave Toyota GR Supra, who got past after a lap-long side by side action. The #11 Gainer Tanax Z Nissan brought out the first full course yellow of the race on lap 17 when it came to a halt just out of turn 1 - but the green flag waved again one lap later.


Lilou had her mirrors full of the #87 Metalive Lamborghini but she held off the attacks and started climbing the field as the first round of pit stop approached. She in fact extended her stint and was up to fifth in class at the one hour mark - and would pit on lap 41 from fourth place. Kai Cozzolino rejoined in P15, with 1 hour and 50 minutes left on the clock.


Lilou Wadoux, PONOS Racing Ferrari 296 GT3, 2024 SuperGT, Fuji Speedway
Photo credits: PONOS Racing

"The car warmed up well and I was able to run at a similar pace compared to the other cars, so I had no problems getting off to a good start", Wadoux explained. "I started the race in sixth place, but it was very difficult to keep up with the pace of the other cars. However, at the end of the stint, the car stabilized and I was able to drive with a good feeling."

 

At the end of the pit cycle, Cozzolino moved back up to P12 and chased the #18 Upgarage Honda NSX GT3, eight seconds up the road. By lap 63, Cozzolino had cut the gap in half - but couldn't quite get close enough to challenge it for position. The #45 PONOS Racing Ferrari again went longer than most of the field at the second round of pit stops: Cozzolino ran as high as third and pitted on lap 75: the PONOS Ferrari would then have to make its way up from P12 in the GT300 class in the final hour or racing.


The Upgarage NSX took the class lead by going longer - and was one of the last teams to pit together with the #9 Pacific AMG and the #6 Unirobo Ferrari - who had hit trouble earlier with two separate spins. The #19 Honda pitted from the lead and rejoined just ahead of Cozzolino, leaving the #88 JLOC Lamborghini Huracan back in the GT300 lead with 30 minutes to go.


The PONOS Ferrari started to make up ground, climbed its way back into the top ten and successfully controlled in the closing minutes - then picked up one more position to take the chequered flag in P9 after a very solid race for the Ferrari duo, who collected their first top ten of the season in Super GT on only their second start.


"It was my first time to experience the start in Super GT, and there are some unique aspects so I need to get used to it", Lilou summed up. "However, I was able to battle within the group, and I was happy that I was given the first stint."


"The team did a good job and we were able to demonstrate the performance of the car, but I want to continue working hard on development so that we can have even better races."


The third round will be held at the iconic Suzuka International Circuit on 1–2 June.

Lilou Wadoux, PONOS Racing Ferrari 296 GT3, 2024 SuperGT, Fuji Speedway
Photo credits: PONOS Racing

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