Nissan Zs finish 1-2 in 500km Race
Under beautiful Golden Week holiday skies, round 3 of Super GT was held at Fuji Speedway on Friday, May 4th; and in spite of an11th-place start on the grid, the XANAVI NISMO Z (#23) with drivers Satoshi Motoyama and Richard Lyons succeeded in taking the checkered flag with a victory.
|Copyright © NISMO
The MOTUL AUTECH Z (#22) with Michael Krumm and Tsugio Matsuda, itself starting from a lowly 13th, came second. A crowd of some 54,800 spectators witnessed this back-to-back victory for the normally aspirated V8 Nissan Z in the GT500 class. Following them, the YellowHat YMS Moba HO! TOMICA Z (#3) with Sebastian Philippe and Masataka Yanagida finished in a remarkable 4th place after starting 15th.
The warm weather was already like early summer at Fuji Speedway as the formation lap started at 2:05pm. After two laps behind the marshall car, the race started its long, 109-lap journey of 500kms.
The Calsonic Impul Z (#12) with drivers Benoit Treluyer and Kazuki Hoshino was the top starter among the Nissan Zs, leaving the starting grid in 5th place after Super Lap qualifying held the previous day. Starting driver Benoit Treluyer had a quick shot off the line, and had jumped to 2nd place on the third lap. However, the car had to give way to pursuers and was then hit by others on lap 20 before getting a puncture on the 29th tour after driving over someone else's accident debris. The car was eventually forced to make irregular pit stops.
Meanwhile, the start from behind had allowed the #23 Z to avoid these troubles up front, and Motoyama had successfully reached 8th place by lap3, and 5th on lap 20. He then decided to keep a steady pace, handing the car over to Richard Lyons in 7th.
Lyons was then held up by the GT300 cars around him, and couldn't get the chance he needed to overtake his opponents. But after the race was red flagged with a car catching fire, Lyons took a chance and showed his best. The car took 3rd place quickly, and by the time it was due to make its second pit stop, had reached the top. It was then handed over to Motoyama once again, and after being victorious in the battle with his pursuing teammate Tsugio Matsuda in the #22 Z, he never gave the others even the slightest chance to challenge until taking the checkered flag. The win came in a most dramatic race, and was the first victory for the team this season.
The #22 Z was the other strong car in this race as Michael Krumm started from 15th and had reached 2nd place by lap 48. Throughout the interruption, the car managed to keep its position and captured the #18 NSX on lap 69, before handing the car over to Matsuda while running in the lead.
After a brief pit stop, it was the #23 Z that returned to the pits on top as Matsuda continued his pursuit for the chance to take back what was once his. Although he wasn't successful, Tsugio was the only serious threat to Motoyama, finishing the race in 2nd place, only 2 seconds behind the winner. After coming 3rd in Okayama, it was a consecutive podium for the #22 Z. For the driver's championship, the pairing of Motoyama and Lyons moved into the lead position after their 2nd place at Suzuka and this win here at Fuji. Fellow NISMO factory drivers Krumm and Matsuda follow them in 2nd place. The #22 and #23 NISMO cars are now on top together on the Team championship.
The #12 Z suffered from damage caused by contact with another car and had to visit the garage for repairs. The car finished 10th however, taking a valuable point for the championship. Meanwhile, the WOODONE ADVAN Clarion Z (#24) with drivers Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Seiji Ara was hit hard by another car on lap 13 while racing in 15th place, forcing it to stop out on track. With the severe damage unable to be mended, the car had to retire.
Satoshi Motoyama in car #23 was very happy to talk after his overwhelming success: "We are so happy, as it was our goal this season to make our car competitive at this high-speed Fuji Speedway with the long straight. We were 11th in qualifying and didn't even make it to Super Lap, but we knew we had a good set up and so could make it to the podium. We are so happy to be able to win in front of so many Nissan fans."
His driver partner in the team, Richard Lyons added: "It is amazing. It's like a dream. The drivers made no mistakes, and the pit work was perfect. I believe it's not just luck that let us win. Both the car and Satoshi were very strong. And we can never thank our fans enough for cheering for us so loudly."
Comment from Yoshitaka Iijima, NISMO Team Director:
"A back-to-back finish is such a joy for us. We had announced we would win, so I am glad we did. We were able to show our fans how strong we are in racing. Our drivers are very good at using the tires, so we were able to keep a steady pace while the team successfully supported them with perfect pit stops, allowing them to take victory. We at the team would like to express our gratitude to our fans that gathered here today, coming from all over the country. Your support was obviously a strong wind pushing us forward. Thank you all very much."
Rd. 3 FUJI GT 500km RACE [ 14:13 - 109 Laps fine / dry ]
Friday,4 May, 2007 - Fuji Speedway
||Driver (1st / 2nd)
||Time / Diff
||XANAVI NISMO Z
||MOTUL AUTECH Z
||Forum Eng. SC430
||YellowHat YMS MobaHO! TOMICA Z
||ZENT CERUMO SC430
||BANDAI DUNLOP SC430
||DENSO SARD SC430
||CALSONIC IMPUL Z
||WOODONE ADVAN Clarion Z
||Joao Paulo De Oliveira