September 30, 2012
September 30th , Autopolis (Oita)
Round 7 of the SUPER GT series, the “SUPER GT in KYUSHU 300km” took place on Sunday, September 30th at Autopolis, located in Hita city, Oita prefecture. Having taken over the lead in the championship standings at the previous round, the #1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintarelli) snatched a dramatic upset victory in the race, and in so doing, became SUPER GT champions for the second consecutive season.
|#1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R||Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintarelli|
With the threat of typhoon #17 approaching, the area around Autopolis was beset with bad weather from qualifying, held on the 29th. The #1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R didn't quite demonstrate the performance expected in the Saturday afternoon session, and the car would start the race from 10th on the grid. Driver Masataka Yanagida, celebrating his 100th SUPER GT start, commented, “I'm hoping to run well in the race and show the car's true performance.”
Light rain fell from the morning of race day, September 30th, with the circuit shrouded in thick fog. Due to the inclement conditions, the morning's free practice session was first delayed, before eventually being called off altogether - and at one point prior to the scheduled race start, there was some doubt as to whether the event would take place at all. However, with the fog lifting at around 1pm, the race was started behind the Safety Car (SC). After two laps following the safety vehicle, the cars were let loose in heavy wet conditions for 63 laps of the hilly 4.674km circuit.
Piloting the #1 GT-R, start driver Ronnie Quintarelli took charge for the race's first half. Though Quintarelli was able to move up to 7th position in the early stages, advancing further up the order proved more difficult. With this in mind, the team decided to call the car in early, and on lap 24 the machine came in for its mandatory pit stop and driver switch, teammate Yanagida stepping aboard. Responsible for the long stint that followed, Yanagida was tasked with maintaining his tyres whilst also hounding the top cars. Intense battles at the head of the field saw a bewildering change in the order. Running in 5th position on lap 51, Yanagida began a charge that soon saw him take over 4th place. A daunting maneouvre on lap 58 catapulted him past a rival and into 2nd spot, well within reach of the then-leading #32 HSV. At every corner thereafter, Yanagida visibly shortened the gap to the car in front, though this came at a severe cost to his tyres. However, a decisive move at the 2nd hairpin on the race's very last lap secured the lead for the reigning champions. After 65 laps of relentless running, he crossed the finish line in 1st place.
Missing out on pole position by a mere 1/1000 of a second, the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Michael Krumm) had Motoyama behind the wheel for the start of the race. True to form, the multiple champion swiftly took over the lead on the opening lap, sending the masses of cheering NISSAN fans in the grandstand into a frenzy.
Although he immediately built up a gap over his pursuers, a subsequent Safety Car period instantly nullified the gains he had worked so hard to achieve. Once back underway, Motoyama maintained his position at the head of the field until the middle of the race, and despite dropping position temporarily, handed the car over to teammate Michael Krumm on lap 27 while running third. Krumm then set a blistering pace in an effort to make up positions, but was hindered by falling grip levels which eventually necessitated another visit to the pit for some fresh rubber. Further complicating the pair's progress, contact with a rival machine when fighting for position incurred a drive-through penalty, resulting in an additional time loss. The car finished the race in sixth place.
On this occasion, it wasn't just the aforementioned pair of GT-Rs that played an active role in the race. The #24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Bjorn Wirdheim) qualified in third place, and ran second behind the leading #23 GT-R in the race's early laps. Yasuda took over for the second half, and after passing a rival, led the race for thirteen laps. Despite a slight drop in pace in the closing stages, the car finished fourth.
Meanwhile, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Joao Paolo de Oliveira) selected tyres that did not match the track surface conditions well, but still managed to run the full race distance and claim one championship point with a 10th place finish.
The GT300-class #3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Katsumasa Chiyo) came to Autopolis with a massive 96kgs' succes ballast onboard, by far the heaviest of the entire field. Despite this, the car took a commanding pole position, its first since debuting at the start of the season. The car backed up its qualifying performance with a dominant lead in the race, only for things to go awry in the closing stages when a rear tyre separated from the wheel, robbing the team of running the complete race distance.
Comment by Nissan Teams General Director Kunihiko Kakimoto
“The weather was so changeable today, this was more a race of tyres than pure machine performance, don't you think? It was really wonderful to see the #1 GT-R take its second consecutive championship title. I think that Yanagoda's performance in the race's second half was particularly notable, and he deserves praise. It can be said that this victory was one gained by the power of both drivers, since Ronnie also endured the first half and drove calmly. Moreover, an exciting highlight was the #24 car's strategy of running the full distance without changing tyres, though this eventually led to a slight drop in pace.”
Comment by Masataka Yanagida, driver of the #1 GT-R
“Since things didn't go according to plan in qualifying, I was expecting it to be a difficult race. I therefore concentrated on running consistently while maintaining pace, and never giving up an inch. Although I was certain I would eventually get past the leading #32 HSV, I never for a moment imagined we would be champions. I would like to thank everyone on the team for providing us with such a wonderful car, Ronnie for being so patient during what was surely a severe first half, Michelin, our sponsors, and of course all of our many fans. A sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart to you all.”
Comment by Ronnie Quintarelli, driver of the #1 GT-R
“Througout my stint I had three HSVs in front of me, so I had no chance of getting past. However, with the pit stop coming ahead of schedule, I was able to follow our strategy without straining myself. Today's win really belongs to Mah (Yanagida). I feel very proud. Moreover, it is a true joy to take back-to-back titles alongside him. He's the best teammate any driver could hope for.”
|Pos||No||Machine||Drivers||Time / Behind|
|1||1||S Road REITO MOLA GT-R||Masataka Yanagida
|2||32||EPSON HSV-010||Ryo Michigami
|3||19||WedsSport ADVAN SC430||Seiji Ara
|4||24||D'station ADVAN GT-R||Hironobu Yasuda
|5||39||DENSO KOBELCO SC430||Juichi Wakisaka
|6||23||MOTUL AUTECH GT-R||Satoshi Motoyama
|7||38||ZENT CERUMO SC430||Yuji Tachikawa
|8||100||RAYBRIG HSV-010||Takuya Izawa
|9||18||weider HSV-010||Takashi Kogure
Carlo Van Dam
|10||12||CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R||Tsugio Matsuda
Joao Paulo de Oliveira
|Pos||No||Machine||Drivers||Time / Behind|
|1||66||triple a vantage GT3||Hiroki Yoshimoto
|2||911||ENDLESS TAISAN 911||Kyosuke Mineo
|19||3||S Road NDDP GT-R||Yuhi Sekiguchi