September 2, 2013
Okayama International Circuit, Okayama prefecture (August 31th - September 1st, 2013) - Round 5 of the Super Taikyu Series was held at Okayama International Circuit, where the #24 Threebond Nissan Technical College GT-R (Tomonobu Fujii/Daiki Sasaki/GAMISAN) appeared in the GT3 class, finishing in a close second and earning a spot on the podium.
#24 ThreeBond Nissan Technical College GT-R
#34 asset TECHNO Z34
This round of the series was a three-hour affair. The #24 GT-R went with the driver lineup of Fujii, Sasaki, and GAMISAN. In qualifying, which was marked by cloudy weather with occasional rain, they took third place with Fujii and Sasaki's combined times. The #81 GTNET ADVAN NISSAN GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Takayuki Aoki/Naofumi Omoto) took pole position for the second time in a row.
Race day provided even more uncertain conditions than the previous day, with heavy rain on and off from the morning hours. After two laps behind the Safety Car, the race started in earnest at 1:37pm. However, the Safety Car was back out on track on lap seven so that repairs could be made to a fence damaged when the scattered showers intensified and a car ran off track. Many cars took this opportunity to make their first pit stops, and in the #24 GT-R, GAMISAN was replaced by Fujii, while in the front running #81 GT-R, Aoki was replaced with Hoshino. However, Hoshino left the pit while the pit road exit signal was still red, and received a 30-second penalty, falling far behind in the battle for the top spot.
Near the midpoint of the race at around 3:00pm, Fujii in the #24 GT-R, then running in second, made a pit stop on lap 37 and was replaced by Sasaki. With less than an hour remaining, heavy rain fell on the circuit and the Safety Car was called out yet again, this time to recover cars that had stopped on track. With this, the #24 GT-R closed the 50-second gap to first place to just 26 seconds. On the 65th lap, the Safety Car went back in, and the battle resumed. Even as Sasaki closed on the frontrunner, the third place car was gaining on him, and he was forced into the difficult position of driving while keeping an eye on the gap with the cars both ahead and behind.
When there were only 20 minutes remaining in the race, the rain once again intensified, with the Safety Car entering the fray for the third time, allowing the #24 GT-R to reduce the gap to the leaders down to 5 seconds in one fell swoop. With 10 minutes to go, the Safety Car departed, and the final battle began. Sasaki steadily whittled down the lead of the car ahead, but when he had reduced it to just 1.5 seconds, the three-hour time limit ran out. They missed their chance at their first win in a year, but earned second place on the podium. As for the #81 GT-R, Hoshino was replaced by Aoki, who was climbing back up the ranks when he was caught up in another car's spin, the collision causing damage to the car, and forcing him to return to the pit for repairs. They finished the race eighth in their class.
In the ST-3 class, the #34 asset Techno Z34 (Masahiro Sasaki/Shuji Maejima/Hironobu Yasuda) did not make a pit stop during the first Safety Car run, and Sasaki and Maejima both drove continuously for long stints, making their second pit stop during the final Safety Car run, and substituting in Yasuda. He then outran their rivals for a welcome first victory of the season.
Daiki Sasaki (#24 Threebond Nissan Technical College GT-R/Second in GT3 class)
“This was my first time competing in the rain in GT3, and the rough way things developed made driving very difficult. At any rate, I worked hard to stay on track and not go off. When the Safety Car was out, I was able to think of various ways to keep my tires from cooling down, and in this race I was able to drive for a very long time and it paid big rewards. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to win, but I think I will be able to put this experience to good use in SUPER GT going forward.”
|Pos||No||Machine||Driver||Time / Behind|
|1||28||PETRONAS SYNTIUM SLS AMG GT3||F.Hairuman / T.Kataoka||3:01'31.357|
|2||24||ThreeBond Nissan Technical College GT-R||T.Fujii / D.Sasaki / GAMISAN||1.561|
|3||1||PETRONAS SYNTIUM SLS AMG GT3||M.Moh / N.Taniguchi||5.776|
|8||81||GTNET ADVAN NISSAN GT-R||K.Hoshino / T.Aoki / N. Omoto||7Laps|
|Pos||No||Machine||Driver||Time / Behind|
|1||34||asset techno Z34||M.Sasaki / S.Maejima / H.Yasuda||3:02'36.266|
|2||80||PETRONAS TWS GS350||S.Sato / H.Yoshimoto / S.Wakisaka||10.620|
|3||39||TRACY SPORTS IS 350||S.Hyodo / K.Sasaki / T.Hashimoto||1Lap|
|5||5||Okabe Jidosha Makers Z34||D.Imamura / M.Atake / T.Shirai||3Laps|
|6||14||Okabe Jidosha Kyoshin-Keisoku Z33||K.Komatsu / K.Sugibayashi / Y.Masuda||8Laps|
|7||15||Okabe Jidosha DIXCEL Team Tetsuya Z||M.Nagashima / T.Tanaka / T.Tanaka||8Laps|
|8||35||asset techno Z34||K.Koizumi / S.Hasegawa / K.Shimogaki||9Laps|
|-||85||85TERANISHI 34Z||S.Yamada / W.Kobayakawa||62Laps|