May 4, 2012

#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R takes podium in SUPER GT FUJI 500kms

SUPER GT 2012 Round 2 - Race Report

May 4, Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Prefecture)

Round 2 of the 2012 SUPER GT series, the “FUJI GT 500km RACE” was held at Fuji Speedway on Friday, May 4th. After qualifying fourth, the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Michael Krumm) finished the race in third place. Leading until the final stages of the 110-lap event, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Joao Paolo de Oliveira) gambled on switching to rain tyres just eight laps from the end, and ended up finishing fifth. In the GT300 class, the #3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Katsumasa Chiyo) started ninth. Driving aggressively in the opening stages, the machine made it as high as 2nd place temporarily, until mechanical trouble caused the car to fall back. It ended the race in eighteenth position.

Race day saw a crowd of over 57,000 fans packing the Fuji Speedway grandstands. The skies had remained cloudy in the buildup to the race, but just before the rolling start, it began to rain. This necessitated a hurriedly arranged Safety Car (SC) start. Though each machine ran on slicks behind the Safety Car, on lap 2 they all dove into the pits for wet-weather rubber. The SC pulled off track once the cars were sufficiently bunched up, and racing-speed competition was able to get underway.

At this point, the #12 GT-R (which had qualified 10th) made the switch to intermediate tyres. Immediately thereafter, the skies brightened and the rain let up, forcing the teams that had chosen rain tyres to pit again and change back to slicks. Those on intermediate rubber soon saw the #12 GT-R in their rear view mirrors, which had risen to the lead position by lap 17. The car pitted on lap 21, Oliveira handing the wheel over to Matsuda. After all cars had made their 2nd stop, Matsuda became the race leader - a position he maintained for about 20 laps from lap 46. On lap 65, Oliveria once again took the wheel, and was soon back in the lead. Even when taking into account tyre wear and fuel consumption, without carrying out another pit stop and continuing to run as it had been, it was expected that the car could finish in first place. However, on lap 90 it started to rain, and gradually became stronger. In addition, the team judged that the situation was set to worsen and so called the car in on lap 103 for a tyre change, before quickly sending it back out on track. However, this plan backfired. The rain didn't become stronger, and in fact lessened, so that the teams who continued to run patiently on slicks were able to increase their pace. In the end, the #12 GT-R missed out on a re-reversal of fortunes, crossing the line in fifth place.

Meanwhile, starting from 4th on the grid, Motoyama in the #23 GT-R advanced to third place in the early stages. Despite the chaos all around him due to the rapidly changing track surface conditions in the first half of the race, he held onto the position. On lap 21, he came in to change from wet tyres to slicks, but instead of conducting a driver switch, the car went back out with Motoyama still at the wheel. The ace driver soon returned to third place, a position he held until lap 41 with his rapid and steady pace. After that, Michael Krumm took over, also circulating in 3rd position, before handing the wheel back to Motoyama on lap 83. Although it started to rain again and the NISMO team brought forward their preparation for a tyre change immediately after, they continued to exercise patience. As a result, the #12 GT-R - which had carried out a stop, retreated; while the #39 Lexus SC430 moved into first place. The #23 GT-R finished in 3rd place, making its first visit of the season to the winners' podium.

The #1 S ROAD REITO MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintarelli) qualified 7th, and started the race with Quintarelli at the controls. Like those around him, he made a pit stop for tyres on the 2nd lap behind the SC. Moreover, as the track surface conditions continued to change, he was back in the pit on lap 11, where another tyre change was carried out. Quintarelli returned to the track on slicks, but immediately after, a vibration at the front wheels meant he had to make yet another visit to the pit. This loss had repercussions later in the race, but after switching to Yanagida, and then back to Quintarelli, the car started picking off the machines in front one after another, eventually getting the car up to seventh place at the flag, and well inside the points. Quintarelli also recorded the fastest lap of the race. Meanwhile, the #24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Bjorn Wirdheim) qualified 13th, and had Yasuda at the wheel for the start. He overcame the confusion at the beginning, but was unable to increase his pace easily, and came in on lap 30 to hand the car over to Wirdheim. He got the car up to 8th place, but then the right rear tyre burst, damaging the body panels. After repairs were affected in the pit garage, Yasuda returned to the race. The car finished in 14th.

The GT300-class #3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Katsumasa Chiyo) qualified ninth, and Sekiguchi took the start. Attacking right from the beginning, he had jumped up to 4th place by lap 10. From there, he continued his rise, taking third spot on lap 25 and then moving into 2nd place on lap 30. As the top spot came into range, it was discussed whether he should go on the offensive, but at that exact moment, brake system trouble occurred and he had to return to the pit. Repairs were lengthy and the car fell well down the order, eventually finishing in 18th position, 18 laps behind the leaders.

Kunihiko Kakimoto, general director of the NISSAN teams, gave the following comments:
“Because the potential of the NISSAN GT-R is very high, not having won after this, the 2nd race, is very frustrating. Having the #12 car come in during the safety car period in order to need one less stop for fuel was the right thing to do, in my opinion. It meant that the remaining amount of fuel would have been sufficient, but the rain worked against us, and that was most regrettable. In endurance racing, one must expect the unexpected. Although there were small mistakes, since the position was protected and the 3rd step on the winners' podium secured, it will do and we'll take it. The next round is in Sepang, where we have fared well in the past. That's something to look forward to.”


[GT500 Race Results] 110Laps
Pos No Machine Drivers Time / Behind
1 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 Juichi Wakisaka / Hiroaki Ishiura 3:21'14.137
2 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 Takuya Izawa / Naoki Yamamoto +12.055
3 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R Satoshi Motoyama / Michael Krumm +32.107
4 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 Kazuki Nakajima / Richard Lyons +35.301
5 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R Tsugio Matsuda / Oliveira +49.111
6 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 Toshihiro Kaneishi / Koudai Tsukakoshi +1'00.738
7 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R Masataka Yanagida / Ronnie Quintarelli +1'24.046
8 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 Yuji Tachikawa / Kohei Hirate +1Lap
9 18 Weider HSV-010 Takashi Kogure / Carlo Van Dam +1Lap
10 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 Daisuke Ito / Kazuya Oshima +1Lap
14 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R Hironobu Yasuda / Bjorn Wirdheim +12Laps

[GT300 Race Results] 104Laps
Pos No Machine Drivers Time / Behind
1 0 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW Nobuteru Taniguchi / Tatsuya Kataoka 3:21'52.575
TYPE-01 Apple Shiden
Kazuho Takahashi / Hiroki Katoh +15.761
3 66 triple a vantage GT3 Hiroki Yoshimoto / Kazuki Hoshino +17.259
18 3 S Road NDDP GT-R Yuhi Sekiguchi / Katsumasa Chiyo +18Laps


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