The FUJI GT 300km RACE, Round 5 of the 2017 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4563 m x 66 laps) on August 6. Victors for the GT500 class and the GT 300 class were the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri/Takashi Kobayashi) and the No.55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Sean Walkinshaw), respectively, with the AUTOBACS RACING TEAM AGURI accomplishing pole-to-wins in both classes, a major feat.
With 33,500 spectators attendant at the Fuji Speedway under fair weather despite cloud cover, the race for Round 5 started at 15:32 pm. Tomoki Nojiri of the No.8 ARTA NSX-GT took off to a good start from the pole position, the gap between second place No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) widening rapidly. Meanwhile, faring well was the No.38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Yuji Tachikawa), starting at sixth place and the winner of Round 2, Fuji, making multiple overtakes to pursue the two leading cars from third place. Most of the cars in the lead for the GT500 class began making their routine pit stops after finishing lap 24. In the lead was the No.8 ARTA NSX-GT (Takashi Kobayashi), swiftly moving in and out of the pit, with the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) following at a ten second gap, then the No.38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Hiroaki Ishiura). Toward the end of the race, the No.8 ARTA NSX-GT began showing signs of slowing down, bringing down the gap with the second and third place cars, the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R and the No.38 ZENT CERUMO LC500, to at one point a minimum of three seconds. Despite this, driver Kobayashi pulled through for the victory, taking the race with a 1.530 second lead. The pole-to-win marks the first season victory for ARTA; additionally, this was a first GT500 class win for both Tomoki Nojiri and Takashi Kobayashi, and a first win for the Honda NSX-GT as well. The race marks an end to the four-round winning streak established by the LEXUS LC500 since the beginning of the season.
Competing for second place were the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R and the No.38 ZENT CERUMO LC500, with the two cars going nose-to-taile throughout the race, the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R ultimately managing to hold down their lead. The No.38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 finished third, and the podium was shared by Honda, Nissan and Lexus teams.
In the GT300 class the No.55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi), starting at pole position, was able to carve out for itself a large margin. It was after stopping at the pit that the No.31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT (Koki Saga/Rintaro Kubo), adopting a no tire change strategy, and the GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka), which made good time on their tire change, began catching up. However, Sean Walkinshaw, SUPER GT rookie, gave a great performance by marking the fastest lap, and took the No.55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 to the victory. Victors for both the GT500 and GT300 classes thus became the AUTOBACS RACING TEAM AGURI led by director Aguri Suzuki. The double pole-to-wins in both classes marks a first in the history of the SUPER GT, and a double win by a single team has not been seen since Round 4 of Sportsland SUGO in 2013. Also, with this win, Takagi is tied to the record of most GT300 victories.
No.8 ARTA NSX-GT
“I am very pleased at my first victory, and at the same time, I am emotional to the point that it is starting to affect my judgement. (Laughter) As a kart driver, I attended summer camp, where director Aguri san (Suzuki) was kind enough to take me on, allowing me to receive the support of this team (ARTA) from then on…it was also from ARTA that I was able to begin competing in the GT500, and I cannot help but feel that this ‘special connection’ to the team has brought me here. It being the 20th anniversary of ARTA, I have been telling myself that this year, I must accomplish something, which at times for me has been a burden. With this first victory, here, today, I am both excited, and relieved.”
“I am simply full of gratitude toward everyone I know. I was able to return to the GT500 after experiencing the GT300 but for me this was only the start—I wanted to win, here. I am all too aware that so much is lacking from my driving, and talking to (Tomoki) Nojiri, I have worked at improving on it. This victory stems from the support of the many people of this team. Yes, I am ‘grateful.”
No.55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3
“It feels absolutely amazing to have won! Director Aguri (Suzuki) has been telling us repeatedly to go “for the title!” this year, as it is the 20th anniversary of our team, and I cannot help but feel that the double pole-to-win victory that we were able to achieve here, today, comes very close to it. I would like to that my team, for providing us this amazing car, and Sean Walkinshaw, for completely outdoing himself.”
“I am very excited by our victory. The car felt great, and the tires gave a steady performance all through the race. Our team supported us with perfect work in the pit. Above all, (Shinichi) Takagi’s driving that gave us a great advantage in the first leg of the race was excellent. I am grateful for this to all the people who are involved with the team, and for giving us this victory, today.”