|GT500 drivers Satoshi Motoyama & Benoit Treluyer scored a pole-to-flag victory in their No.23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R two weeks ago at the Autopolis, SUPER GT Round 8, Kyushu 300 km.|
In GT300, No. 81 Daishin Advan Z’s Takayuki Aoiki & Tomonobu Fujii had their first victory of the season.
As soon as the race started at 14.00, No. 32 EPSON NSX (Loic Duval) passed No. 1 ARTA NSX (Ralph Firman) for second place.
From pole, No. 23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Benoit Treluyer, left) began to pull away, opening up a gap of 2 seconds by the end of the first lap. Treluyer kept up his blistering pace in No. 23 and widened that gap to more than 4 sec. by the end of lap three.
Duval maintained P2 until lap 7 when Firman caught up for second. Behind them, No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX (Yuji Ide) had been gradually gaining ground. One after another Ide passed the NO. 36 PETRONAS TOM’S SC430 (Andre Lotterer), the No.35 houzan KRAFT SC430 (Tatsuya Kataoka) and the No.3 YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) before finally passing the No.18 TAKATA DOME NSX (Takashi Kogure) on lap 14 to move into 5th position.
On lap 20 the No. 22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krumm) made its pit stop followed by Lotterer in No. 36. Both machines only change their tires and return to the track without refuelling or changing drivers due to the higher than expected track temperature that worn the tires out.
Among the other teams, No. 100 also made an early pit stop at the end of lap 23. But in this case more than one-third of the race distance had been covered, so they were able to change drivers to Shinya Hosokawa and refuel. On the next lap No. 1 pulled into the pit for driver change (to Takuya Izawa) and fuel. Their front tire change took up more time, stretching their pit stop to 50 seconds.
The leading No. 23 made its pit stop on lap 26 where Satoshi Motoyama took over. With new tires and refuel, the GT-R left the pit in just 28 sec. This gave them a big margin over No. 1.
No. 23 went back on track to continue their lead with Motoyama at the wheel followed by another NISMO GT-R, No. 22 (Krumm) and No.36 (Lotterer) in third, but these two teams have not changed drivers.
After their pit stops, No. 32 (Duval > Katsuyuki Hiranaka, right) moved up to second place. Hiranaka was 30 seconds behind No. 23.
On lap 42, Lotterer handed the wheel of his No. 36 car to Juichi Wakisaka while Krumm made driver switched to Masataka Yanagida on lap 43.
The order of the top three was No. 23 (Motoyama), No.32 (Hiranaka) and No. 1 (Izawa) but Izawa spun out while running alone just before the last curve of lap 47, leaving No. 100 (Hosokawa) to move into 3rd place.
More drama happened, with ten laps remaining No. 100 (Hosokawa) collided with the GT300 class machine No. 62 WILLCOM ADVAN VEMAC 408R as it is competing for the lead. For this Hosokawa was given a drive-through penalty that dropped him back to 4th position again, this put Izawa in No.1 back in 3rd spot. However, Izawa was not able to maintain his position due to his tire wear and Hosokawa in No. 100 gradually closed the gap on him once more.
With one lap remaining the two machines changed position again, Hosokawa crossed the finish line in third but was given a 30-second penalty for brushing No. 1, subsequently Izawa inherited third and a podium finish.
Meanwhile, Motoyama in No. 23 was running smart in the lead, controlling his pace by keeping an eye on the margin between himself and No.32 (Hiranaka) in 2nd. He went to finish the 65-lap race with no threat to secure his team’s third victory of the season.
Although they missed the win, the 2nd place No. 32 EPSON NSX (Loic Duval / Katsuyuki Hiranaka) got their first podium finish of the season.
3rd place finishers, the No. 1 ARTA NSX (Ralph Firman / Takuya Izawa, left) ended what had been a frantic race, with a spin-out and dump-up with another machine, on a positive note with their podium finish.
This GT500 result put the No.23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama / Benoit Treluyer) on top in the season ranking. It also sent the GT-R into the final round with the closest shot at the title in its GT debut year.
The season’s 2nd ranking team, the No. 18 TAKATA DOME NSX (Takashi Kogure / Ryo Michigami) finished 7th while 3rd ranked team, the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM’S SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka / Andre Lotterer) finished 8th. Below them, the No. 22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krum / Masataka Yanagida) finished 5th and the No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Yuji Tachikawa / Richard Lyons) that outran No. 22 to finish 4th, are tied in the season ranking.
In the GT300 class, No.11 JIMCENTER ADVAN F430 (Tetsuya Tanaka) led from pole, with the No. 81 DAISHIN ADVAN Z (Takayuki Aoki) and the No.2 Privée KENZO Asset Shiden (Kazuho Takahashi) filled out the top three in the original qualifying order.
In 4th position was the No. 26 YUNKER POWER TAISAN PORSCHE (Nobuteru Taniguchi), which had passed the No. 19 WedsSport IS350 (Manabu Orido) on the first lap.
5th position was the No. 62 WILLCOM ADVAN VEMAC408R (Haruki Kurosawa) and in 6th, No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Morio Nitta).
The first among these leaders to make its pit stop was No. 81. At the end of the lap 24, No. 81 came in for its routine pit work and changed drivers to Tomonobu Fuji. On lap 29 four more teams made their pit stops and driver changes, including No. 19 (Orido > Tsubasa Abe), No. 26 (Taniguchi > Shinichi Yamaji), No. 62 (Kurosawa > Shinsuke Shibahara) and No. 43 (Nitta > Shinichi Takagi). They returned to the track in the order of No. 26, No. 62, No. 19 and No. 43.
In the lead, No. 11 seemed to be losing tire grip and pace until it was passed by No. 2 on lap 34, after which it immediately made its pit stop and changed drivers from Tanaka to Masayuki Ueda. Now in the lead, No. 2 pushed on to lap 41 before making its pit stop. They changed drivers to Kazuho Takahashi but the pit work took longer than expected. Eventually it took 40 seconds before Takahashi could get No. 2 back in the race. Meanwhile, Ueda in No. 11 had been passed by No. 43 (Takagi) and No. 19 (Abe).
As a result, No. 81 (Fujii) had managed to take the lead, followed by No. 26 (Yamaji) in 2nd, No. 62 (Shibahara) in 3rd, No. 43 (Takagi) in 4th, No. 2 (Takahashi) in 5th and No. 19 (Abe) in 6th.
This order continued until lap 45 when No. 62 was bumped by the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX and spun out. This caused No. 62 to drop far back in field. A similar fate awaited No. 26 on lap 47 as it was brushed by the No. 6 ENEOS SC430 and went into a spin.
Yamaji managed an amazing recovery, barely missing contact with the cars coming from behind, but he was still passed by No. 2 and No. 19. As a result of these events, No. 100 and No. 6 were both given drive-through penalties for dangerous driving.
This brought Takagi in the No. 43 car (left) into 2nd position. In 3rd now was Takahashi in No.2, while Abe in No. 19 was now 4th and Yamaji in No. 26 was 5th.
This order remained until lap 50, when Abe in No.19 spun out.
This put No.26 (Yamaji) in 4th position again. On the final lap of the race there was yet another collision, this time between No. 19 (Abe) and No. 26 (Yamaji), which sent No. 26 off the track and out of the race. For this collision, No. 19 was given a 30-sec. penalty to be added on to its finishing time after the race.
Meanwhile, there were no changes in the order of the top three before the end of the race. The No. 81 DAISHIN ADVAN Z (Takayuki Aoki / Tomonobu Fujii) took its first win of the season. Second place went to the No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Morio Nitta / Shinichi Takagi), which had overcame the disadvantage of 50 kg in handicap weights magnificently this time with a cleverly executed race strategy and skillful driving.
Third place went to the No. 2 Privée KENZO Asset Shiden (Kazuho Takahashi / Hiroki Katoh, right) and 4th to the No. 46 MOLA LEOPALACE Z (Kazuki Hoshino / Hironobu Yasuda), which had struggled under the disadvantage of 100kg of handicap weights but continued to race valiantly to the finish.