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S ROAD MOLA GT-R TAKES ITS FIRST SUPER GT WIN IN THREE YEARS

The BURIRAM SUPER GT RACE, Round 3 of the 2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was run on June 21 at Thailand’s Chang International Circuit (4.554km x 66 laps). Under tough conditions of June in Thailand similar to mid-summer races in Japan, the S Road MOLA GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama and Masataka Yanagida took the GT500 class win.S Road MOLA GT-R

The race started at 3:00 in the afternoon (local time) when the heat of the day would be waning, but still the air temperature was 37 degrees Celsius, as hot as any mid-summer race could be. The pole-sitting No. 46 S Road MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama) got off to a good start to lead the race in the early going.

The start of the GT500 class race saw the top three, the pole-sitting No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F (Yuji Tachikawa) and the 2nd- and 3rd-place qualifying No. 36 PETRONAS TOM’S RC F (James Rossiter) and No. 46 S Road MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama) all made a clean start and held their grid positions through the first lap. Motoyama in the S Road MOLA GT-R, who had proved that he was fast on this course by taking pole position in last year’s race, quickly went after last year’s winner, the PETRONAS TOM’S RC F in the early stages of the race and managed to pass it to move into 2nd position. Then he set his sights on the ZENT CERUMO RC F three seconds in front at that point and began to gradually close the gap. This was the start of what would be a classic battle of veteran champions, pitting Motoyama against the holder of the record for most GT500 wins, Tachikawa.

Motoyama in the GT-R had the aster pace, but Tachikawa was more than ready for the challenge with his proven defensive skills. Although he let Motoyama’s GT-R get ahead of him at one point, Tachikawa in the RC F made deft use of the GT300 class back markers to move past him again and regain the lead. But, entering the middle stages of the race he couldn’t stop Motoyama from taking the lead once again. In the latter half of the race, Hiroaki Ishiura took the wheel of the ZENT CERUMO RC F and tried to catch up with the S Road MOLA GT-R, now in the hands of Masataka Yanagida, only to suffer brake trouble. This forced Ishiura to the pit for repairs, but he eventually had to retire from the race at that point. With the pressure now gone and a margin of lead in excess of 10 seconds over 2nd place now, Yanagida was able to drive the S Road MOLA GT-R steadily on to victory. For the team and for Yanagida, this was their first win since 2012, and for Motoyama it was his first win since 2011. Finishing 2nd was the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA RC F (Kazuya Oshima/Yuji Kunimoto) and in 3rd place came the No.17 KEIHIN NSX CONCEPT-GT (Kodai Tsukakoshi/Hideki Mutoh) that had battled back from an 11th position start. This meant that the podium for the second year’s race in Thailand had all three makers represented; a Nissan GT-R, Lexus RC F and a Honda NSX CONCEPT-GT.

In the GT300 class, the 3rd-position starting No.3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino) passed the 2nd-postion No.10 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Andre Couto) on the first lap of the race and then the pole-starting No. 25 VivaC 86 MC (Takeshi Tsuchiya) to take the lead. After this, Hoshino ran on at a speed faster than the rest to build up a lead of more than 10 seconds over 2nd place by mid-race. At the routine pit stop the wheel was turned over to the rookie Mitsunori Takaboshi, who handled the second stint with steady driving that brought the B-MAX NDDP GT-R home to victory with a 9-second lead over the No.10 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Ryuichiro Tomita) in 2nd place.

Winner Comments

No.46 S Road MOLA GT-R
Satoshi Motoyama :
I am very happy about this win because it is our first since I came to the team and for me personally the first in some time. Last year at this circuit I was running so well in the lead until [machine] trouble struck and we couldn’t get the win, so I really wanted to avenge that loss this time. That is the feeling that we came into this weekend with. We were fast from the first official practice, and although we unfortunately couldn’t get the pole position, I was determined to turn the car over to Yanagida in good position after the first half of today’s race. That is what I had in mind as I kept pushing hard in my stint. It took me some time and effort to pass Tachikawa and I didn’t get quite as much margin of lead as I had hoped for, but the pit work was perfect and it turned out to be a good race for us.

Masataka Yanagida :
At this circuit last year we had been in the lead when we ran into machine trouble that caused a disappointing result, so I am very glad that we made up for it by winning today. Motoyama-san succeeded in getting us in front to the #38 car, but it was still fast and I was expecting it to be a close race to the end. But, our pit stop was very fast, and that advantage took a lot of the pressure off me. In the final stages of the race I was running alone in the lead and the memories of last year came back to my mind and made me uneasy. But I was able to run on with trust in our team and the NISMO staff [that prepared our car].

No.3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R
Kazuki Hoshino :
From the off-season I had been saying that this year’s GT-R is really fast, but the opening round ended in confusion and although it was a one-two finish for the GT-R at the second round at Fuji, we were the ones that finished 2nd, so Takaboshi and I had been saying to each other that we would definitely go for the win in Thailand. So, I am very relieved right now. From before the start of the race I was determined that I was going to go out and take the lead right away, and when I was able to do that I decided that I was going to push hard to give Takaboshi as much of a lead as I could. I am very happy now that we were able to win.

Mitsunori Takaboshi :
I am happy that we won. Since this is my first SUPER GT win, I am both happy and a bit nervous being here at the winners’ press conference sitting next to the senior (GT500) class Nissan drivers. I knew that I had a good amount of lead when I started my stint, but on the final laps I was telling myself that I absolutely had to avoid crashing. When I finally took the checkered flag and then reached the pit road, I saw Kazuki [Hoshino] san sticking out his arm and saying “Good” (yossha) and that is when I finally felt the real joy of having won.

Source. Super GT

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