Button: Super GT title defence now looking “difficult”’
Jenson Button says the chances of he and Naoki Yamamoto defending their SUPER GT title are receding, despite returning to the podium in last weekend's Fuji 500-mile round.
The Kunimitsu Honda duo charged from 10th on the grid to finish second in the bonus-points race, accumulating 18 points to move up to fifth in the drivers’ standings.
However, Button remains pessimistic about his championship chances, citing the points advantage the championship-leading LeMans Lexus team has built with back-to-back victories in Thailand and Fuji.
“When we can get points, we get [on the] podium,” Button told Motorsport.com. “So we’ve been very unlucky with three races, accidents.
“Yeah, the championship is difficult because the #6 [LeMans] car has 60 points. But this is Super GT, with the success ballast anybody can still fight for the championship.
“We go to Autopolis thinking about winning the race, we don’t think about the championship. We go and enjoy the race and fight for the win.”
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Button and Yamamoto were running second behind the race-leading NISMO Nissan of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda when the second safety car had to be deployed for Jann Mardenborough’s stranded Kondo Nissan.
It was just prior to this intervention that Yamashita dived into the pits for the #6 Lexus's third stop, with the strategy call elevating him and Oshima into the lead.
Given that Button and Yamamoto were able to jump the NISMO car in the next pitstop and then hold off their subsequent attacks, Button feels he might have scored his second GT500 victory if the LeMans Lexus team had not got “very lucky” with the safety car.
“We did maximum for the car today,” Button said. “Good drive by Naoki and myself. Team did a good strategy. We had a chance to win but the #6 car got very lucky with the safety car.
"It really was a shame. But we fought today very hard, with a lot of quick cars. We were able to beat the #23 NISMO [car], which was surprising. Very good job by the whole team.
“We are happy but always a little bit disappointed when you know that you didn’t have the opportunity to fight for a win. Maybe we wouldn’t win but the opportunity was gone because of the safety car.”
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