Super GT Round Three: GT-Rs sweep the podium!
The GT's shined in the Super GT race at the Autopolis Sunday.
The SUPER GT IN KYUSHU 300 km, Round 3 of the 2014 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at the AUTOPOLIS (lap = 4.674 km) on June 1. In the GT500 class, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli ran a perfect race from pole position to win decisively without ever surrendering the lead.
Yesterday the air temperature reached a mid-summer-like high of nearly 30 degrees C. at the AUTOPOLIS at the foot of the Aso Mountains. On this race day, the temperature rose to what for June was an unusually hot 28 degrees when the race started at exactly 2:00 in the afternoon. Ronnie Quintarelli in the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, who had won pole position the day before while breaking the former course record by a big margin, good a great start to lead the race in the early going. Quintarelli was followed by Satoshi Motoyama in the No. 46 S Road MOLA GT-R into the middle stages of the race, and rising to third position after passing the 3rd-place qualifying No. 1 ZENT CERUMO RC F (Kohei Hirate) was Joao Paulo de Oliveira in the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R. This put Nissan GT-R teams in the top three positions.
After a fast pit stop and a change of drivers to Tsugio Matsuda, the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R continued to lead the race at a fast pace, at one point increasing the margin of lead over the S Road MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida) to a commanding margin of nearly 15 seconds. However, that lead was to vanish to nearly nothing when a GT300 car crashed on the 48th lap, bringing out the Safety Car to slow the race down to a single line in the positioned order. But, there were still nine laps remaining after the race was restarted that allowed Matsuda to build a lead again in car No. 23 and run on to a perfect pole-to-checkered win.
The S Road MOLA GT-R finished 2nd and 3rd place went to the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R, after holding off a fierce charge by the Lexus RC F machines in the final stages of the race. This gave Nissan GT-R teams a clean sweep of the winners’ podium. For Matsuda, this was his thirteenth win in the GT500 class, and for Quintarelli it was his seventh. For the Nissan GT-R it was the second win of the season following the victory in round 2 at Fuji Speedway.
In the GT300 class, a faster pit stop enabled the No. 55 ARTA CR-Z GT driven by Shinichi Takagi and Takashi Kobayashi to take the lead and the win away from the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Kota Sasaki/Takuto Iguchi), making this a victory creditable to the better fuel economy of the hybrid car.
This was the first win of this season for the Honda CR-Z GT. It was the team’s third win since starting competition in the GT300 class the year before last.
No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R - Tsugio Matsuda
“the last two races since I came to the NISMO team have been frustrating. Of course, I’m sure it has been frustrating not just for me, but for the whole team, and I think that is one factor that led to today’s win. Things had been going well since the [tire] tests here [at AUTOPOLIS a month ago], but then we had the recent change to a low-drag [aerodynamics package] that resulted in a bit of uncertainty. But, the flow has been good since entering race week. Still, I didn’t think we would be able to run such a perfect race as we had today. But, with the Safety Car coming out and our losing our margin of lead, it wasn’t an easy victory by any means. ”
Ronnie Quintarelli “This is our first win since I came to the NISMO last year. To all of the fans of Nissan and NISMO, I want to say, “Thank you for waiting for this moment.” his time, the machine was fast from the start and we had no trouble along the way. E got wonderful performance from the machine and the tires. The next round at Sugo will probably be another race run in hot conditions [where the Michelin tires perform well]. It appears that today’s win has brought us up to 4th place in the ranking, so I want to do my best to help us move up closer to the top.”
No.55 ARTA CR-Z GT - Shinichi Takagi
“This was the first time we have had a race here at AUTOPOLIS at this time of year, so the conditions were something none of the teams have faced before. But, from the very start the tires held out well and our pace was good in long-lap runs. We owe this to Honda for the car they prepared for us, to Bridgestone for the tires and the work of all the people on the team. But, the cool-suit malfunctioned and it appears that made it especially hard for [Takashi] Kobayashi in the latter half of the race. But, I was able to push hard in my stint. Since this season has started out the same as last season [with no-point finishes in the first two rounds followed by consecutive wins in the next two rounds], I definitely want to get another win at the next round at Sugo.”
“In the qualifying we finished second because we got caught behind another car [in the critical time attack], but we switched gears mentally and said will get it back by winning the race. That led us to do things like trying a new type of setting in the morning free practice. At the start, I thought that if we didn’t get passed by the GT-R machines [with their fast speed on the straights], we could stay in competition for the lead. And, as we hoped, [Shinichi] Takagi-san brought us to the pit stop in 2nd position, and on my first lap out of the pit my tires warmed up quickly and I was able to take the lead. Car No. 61 (SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT) was fast and made it a difficult race for us psychologically, but I am very glad that we were able to win.”
Andrea Caldarelli scores maiden SUPER GT win
Zent Cerumo RC F takes its first win of the season at Sportsland Sugo