The winner of the GT500 class race, for the first time this season, was the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R driven by Hironobu Yasuda and Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira, for whom it was sweet revenge to race to victory from pole position this time after the disappointment of having started from pole position in May here at Fuji in Round 2 only to lose the win due to machine trouble in the last four laps of the race.
Race day brought fine summer weather with blue skies and white clouds over Fuji speedway. On the other hand, before the 2:30 pm start time the air temperature had risen to 33 degrees Celsius, which would mean tough racing conditions for the machines and tires.
The race began with a fine start from pole position by Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira in the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R, who then proceeded to rapidly open up a margin of lead over the pursuing No. 46 S Road CRAFTSPORTS GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama). By the 15th lap of the race, De Oliveira had extended his lead to five seconds over car No. 46. Soon after, however, a collision between two GT300 class cars brought out the Safety Car to slow the race to a formation run and eliminate No. 12’s lead while pieces of the two cars were cleared from the track. But, when the race was restarted, De Oliveira again made a decisive dash into the lead, and by the time he returned to the pit for the routine pit stop, De Oliveira had again built a lead of over four seconds.
Now at the wheel of the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R for the second half of the race, Hironobu Yasuda raced on at a relentless pace reminiscent of the glory days of the team’s manager, Kazuyoshi Hoshino. Racing furiously to try to catch the leading No. 12, Katsumasa Chiyo in the No. 46 S Road CRAFTSPORTS GT-R crashed out of the race on the 35th lap, leaving Yasuda in car No. 12 to race on alone to a perfect pole-to-win victory in the 66-lap race, having built up a lead of more than 25 seconds over the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX CONCEPT-GT (Daiki Tsukakoshi/Takashi Kogure). Finishing 3rd came the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Takuya Izawa) to claim the first podium finish for not one but two of the Honda NSX CONCEPT-GT machines that had struggled to perform well first half of the season.
For the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R team, this was their first win at Fuji since Round 2 of the 2014, and for the Nissan GT-R it was the fourth consecutive win from this year’s season opener.
The GT300 class race saw another case of the pole-position starter racing off to an early lead, this one by the No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Takashi Kobayashi). However, the late stages of the race saw the No. 21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS (Richard Lyons/Tomonobu Fujii) close in from behind to stage a pitched battle for the lead. On the straight of the final lap, tension reached a peak as Lyons pulled alongside of Kobayashi (No. 55). But, car No. 55 was able to cross the finish line just 0.106 ahead of No. 21 to take its first win of the season. For the team of car No. 55 that had finished a disappointing 2nd after leading the race at Fuji in Round 2, it was sweet revenge, just as with car No. 12 in the GT500 class race.
No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R
It’s great because this is our first win in some time. The lead that JP (Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira) had built up was taken away when the Safety Car came out, but he pushed hard again to create another big lead, so I also pushed hard from the start of my stint. During my stint our biggest rival, car No. 46, retired from the race and my lead over the rest of the field grew. But, all the time I was driving I was worrying too much that we might run into any unexpected trouble, and hoping that the Safety Car wouldn’t come out again. Fortunately, nothing happened, however.
Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira:
It was a tough race with a lot happening and losing the lead I had built up when the Safety Car came out. So, I’m really happy that we won. I was watching the second half of the race in the pit, but we had a good lead and I had faith in [Hironobu] Yasuda-san, so I wasn’t really nervous. For the next race at Suzuka we will be heavier with a weight handicap, but it is a long (1,000 km) race with a lot of points to win, so I want to see us get as many points as possible and close the point gap to the (standings leader) car No. 1.
No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3
I’m very glad to be here again at the press conference like yesterday after winning the pole position. I still haven’t gotten a complete understanding of the finer points of the new BMW we are using this season, and I am not sure if it is well suited for this track, but it seemed that it was not well suited to the Okayama track where the season opener was run, or SUGO where the last race was run, and also Suzuka where the official test were, but after winning the pole position here at Fuji in Round 2 in May we realized that our car was good for this track, so we were really determined to win the race today. So, I am very happy that we were able to win.
This time we came to Fuji as a team all knowing that we had to work hard and win this race, so I am very pleased that we did. We were fastest in the morning official practice and in the race (with the fastest lap), proving that we were fast over all sections of the track, but the No. 21 Audi had a very fast race pace, so it turned out to be a very tough race. This was our fifth win since Takagi-san and I have been driving together, but the four races we won until today had all been easier wins. This was the first one where I was being caught from behind and had to work to hold the pursuer off, so I know this is a race I will not soon forget.
Source. Super GT