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COME-FROM-BEHIND SUPER GT WIN FOR THE MOTUL AUTECH GT-R AT FUJI

The FUJI GT 500km RACE, Round 2 of the 2016 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, took placer at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km x 110 laps) in Shizuoka Pref. on May 4th. With a large “Golden Week” holiday gallery of more than 50,000 spectators, the GT500 class race developed into a fierce battle between Nissan GT-Rs that ended with a come-from-behind victory for the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli, its second in a row this season.MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

With the rain from the night before having stopped, blue skies covered the racetrack by the time the race started at 2:00 in the afternoon. Despite the strong winds, the air temperature at the start was a comfortable 21 degrees C., perfect for an enjoyable race day. Starting from pole position in the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira) got a good start and was followed in order by the No. 46 S Road CRAFTSPORTS GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama), No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F (Yuji Tachikawa) and the defending champions two years running, the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli). Running away at the front, Oliveira built up a lead of nearly 20 seconds before turning the wheel over to teammate Hironobu Yasuda at mid-race. Using that lead, Yasuda continued to run at the front.

As the second routine pit stop of the race approached on the 68th lap, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT (Takuya Izawa) developed tire trouble and ran off the track at the 100R turn. The machine was damaged badly, and until the wreck could be cleaned up, the Safety Car came out to control the race. According to a new rule adopted this year, the cars were not allowed to make a pit stop at that time, but since the No. 46 S Road CRAFTSPORTS GT-R was running out of fuel, it had to make the pit stop knowing it would be penalized, which dropped it out of the lead group. This moved the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F (Yuji Tachikawa) up into 2nd place, but soon after the race was restarted, the No. 38 machine suddenly came to a stop. In the final stages of the race, the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Quintarelli) that had taken the lead due to fast pit work, and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Oliveira) found themselves in a match race. With 14 laps to go, the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R came from behind to take the lead, but the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R held on. The battle raged on with only a few tenths of a second between the two machines, but with four laps to go, the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R developed tire trouble and ran off the track. Fortunately, the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R just barely avoided getting caught up in the accident and when on that way to the checkered flag and the win. This gave the team its second victory in a row, following the one in the opening round at Okayama. The No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F (Heikki Kovalainen/Kohei Hirate) finished 2nd. This gave the former F1 driver Kovalainen his first podium finish in his second year in SUPER GT. Third place went to the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S RC F (James Rossiter/Ryo Hirakawa).

With this win for the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, stretched Tsugio Matsuda’s record for most GT500 class victories to 18 and gave Ronnie Quintarelli his 12th GT500 win.

In the GT300 class race, the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Jann Mardenborough) took the lead in the middle stages of the race after staring from 5th position on the grid and gradually pulled away from the chasing No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Takashi Kobayashi) to take its first win of the season. This was that first time since round seven of last season that Nissan GT-R cars won both the GT500 and GT300 classes of the same race.

(Spectators: 50,100)

Winners Comments

No.1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

Tsugio Matsuda:
This time I was impressed at how difficult the 40 kg weight handicap made things for us. In the qualifying Q1, I managed to get us through to Q2, where Ronnie [Quintarelli] got us 4th position on the grid, but as I watched him running in the first stint of today’s race, it look as if he was really struggling. But, by holding out for an extra couple of laps before making the pit stop, he helped us reverse the tables and get the lead. Seeing car No. 12 run into trouble was unsettling due to the fact that it is a fellow GT-R, but I am first of all glad that we were able to win.

Winner Comments

No.1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
Tsugio Matsuda:
This time I was impressed at how difficult the 40 kg weight handicap made things for us. In the qualifying Q1, I managed to get us through to Q2, where Ronnie [Quintarelli] got us 4th position on the grid, but as I watched him running in the first stint of today’s race, it look as if he was really struggling. But, by holding out for an extra couple of laps before making the pit stop, he helped us reverse the tables and get the lead. Seeing car No. 12 run into trouble was unsettling due to the fact that it is a fellow GT-R, but I am first of all glad that we were able to win.

Ronnie Quintarelli:
With the 40 kg weight handicap, I was able to get 4th place in the qualifying, but to tell the truth, this race was tougher than I thought it would be. The car still had good balance. But, in the last stint I was able to push hard as the gasoline level went down. I was hoping to win the battle for 2nd place, and the team came through with a great strategy and the support in the pit work was wonderful as always. That’s why we were able to win.

No.3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R
Kazuki Hoshino:
Starting this season with a new team make-up with Jann [Mardenborough] as my driving partner, we had a terrible race in the season opener at Okayama. Also, although I was happy to get 2nd place in the round two at Fuji last year, I also felt disappointed by the race, so I wanted to make up for it this year. By working together with the team and Jann and Yokohama Tire, we have finally gotten a win. The qualifying was difficult, but Jann got us a 5th-place grid position, and during the race, the team did a fantastic job. I feel this was truly a race that was won by the entire team.

Jann Mardenborough:
I feel great today! Here at Fuji we were able to run tests (in March) and during this race week I was able to put in a lot of valuable time on the track (Saturday morning official practice) to get prepared. But in SUPER GT, this was only my second race. So, it is really great that we were able to get this win. Although I have never driven there, I was looking forward to driving at Autopolis, so it is disappointing to hear that the round has been cancelled. The next round at Sportsland SUGO is another track that I have never race a, but I want to get some quality time on it in the tests so I will be well prepared for it.

Source. Super GT

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