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Super GT Okayama

Chaotic rain-hit Okayama SUPER GT race halted by red flag

The opening round of the 2023 SUPER GT season at Okayama was called to a halt just short of two-thirds distance amid heavy rain and lightning.

Proceedings were brought to a halt with 54 laps of 82 completed, the #36 TOM’S Toyota GR Supra of Ritomo Miyata leading the way from the #3 NDDP Racing Nissan Z of Mitsunori Takaboshi.

It followed a safety car period triggered by a crash involving two GT300 cars, the #9 Pacific Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Liang Jiatong and the #88 JLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Takashi Kogure.

The arrival of lightning in the area amid the subsequent clean-up operation caused the stoppage.

The race began in dry conditions, but it wasn’t long before a rain shower hit, prompting cars to pit to change to wet tyres and shaking up the order.

A safety car period on lap 16 was called when the #11 Gainer Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 lost a wheel after exiting the pits on the back straight.

Conditions then improved, with the majority of cars eventually changing back to slick tyres, before more rain arrived at around the lap 50 mark.

The #23 NISMO Nissan of Tsugio Matsuda had been leading the way at this stage, but pitted from the lead to change back to wets around the same time as the safety car was called a second time. 

That put the polesitting car down in sixth place at the time of the red flag.

Leading the GT300 class at the time of the stoppage was the #18 Team UpGarage Honda NSX GT3 of Takashi Kobayashi ahead of the #65 LEON Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Naoya Gamou.

The race resumed at 1535 local time (GMT +9) just as the rain started to get heavier again.

UPDATE: The race was halted for a second time on lap 60 amid worsening rain and high winds, with no green flag running completed since the restart.

Join Motorsport.tv to watch the full SUPER GT Okayama race on replay here.

As most of the field came into the pits to switch back from slicks to wet tyres under caution, the #36 TOM'S Supra of Miyata was sent out with a loose front-left wheel.

Miyata stopped on track shortly after, causing the car he shares with Sho Tsuboi to drop out of what would have been second place.

Matsuda retook the lead in the #23 Nissan, having already switched back to wets before the safety car that preceded the first red flag, with the #3 car of Takaboshi effectively promoted to second.

In GT300, Kobayashi maintained the advantage in the UpGarage Honda.

The race is due to be resumed at 1620 local time (GMT +9).

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