The FUJI 500 mile RACE, Round 5 of the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was run on August 5th at Fuji Speedway (4,563m x 177 laps) in Shizuoka Prefecture. No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Kazuki Nakajima/Yuhi Sekiguchi) that placed third in qualifying ran hard to put up a come from behind victory in an up and down race. In the GT300 class, the No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Sean Walkinshaw), won their third straight race at the Fuji Speedway with a pole-to-win finish.
This year as well Round 5 took place at the Fuji Speedway in the beginning of August. Thanks to the summer vacation season and clear skies, some 38,000 spectators came to see the race. Last year this race (Round 5) was run the SUPER GT standard distance of 300 kilometers, but this year it was 500 miles (807 km), making it the longest race of this season in the SUPER GT series.
The No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) started the race in the pole position and kept the top spot, leading the race in the early stages. But No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Jann Mardenborough) took over the lead in the middle of the race, followed by MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) and No. 24 ForumEngineering ADVAN GT-R (Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira/Mitsunori Takaboshi), with the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 holding the top three spots until the middle stages. Running behind them was No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Kazuki Nakajima/Yuhi Sekiguchi).
Then in the final stages of the race, the No. 23 and No. 24 cars began to slow. CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R cleared its final pit stop in top position. But right after that, it developed engine trouble and had to make an emergency pit stop. With this, au TOM’S LC500 took hold of the top position. In the last race in Thailand (Thai Round), au TOM’S LC500 was vying for the top spot when it ran out of gas to lose the race, but this time it finished the race to put up its first victory of the season. Kazuki Nakajima has put up a total of six wins in GT500. The hero of the 24 Hours of Le Mans run in June with Toyota winning the overall championship, he was greeted again with a great round of applause on the Fuji Speedway podium. It was the first win for Nakajima with fellow driver Yuhi Sekiguchi, his second GT500 win. In 2nd place was No. 1 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa/Nick Cassidy), in 3rd No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Takashi Kogure) who started from 14th on the grid due to trouble during the qualifying.
In the GT300 class, Shinichi Takagi in No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 ran all by himself in a pole-to-finish win. His teammate Sean Walkinshaw also showed flawless driving in this perfect win. Their third win in a row on this circuit is a new SUPER GT record. In 2nd place was No. 0 GOODSMILE Hatsunemiku AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka), and in 3rd place, No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT (Koki Saga/Kouhei Hirate).
GT500 Race Winners
No. 36 au TOM’S LC500
“I was relieved to win this race at Fuji because I thought a loss would mean the end of our season. It’s the first win for this team, and the first one-two finish for TEAM TOM’s means a happy weekend for the team. I feel somewhat sorry for TEAM IMPUL (trouble handed over the lead to us), but I think the speed of our car was the same as theirs, and in some ways exceeds theirs.”
“I’m very happy with this first win since moving to TEAM TOM’S this year, in fact my first podium. During my stints in the beginning, middle, and then at the end of the race, I was told “The brakes will not be working so well,” and particularly during my last stint I was braking much earlier than the usual braking point, letting up on the gas, stepping on the brake, really paying a lot of attention to it. This first one-two finish is really a great thing for us and the team.”
GT300 Race Winners
No. 55 ARAT BMW M6 GT3
“Last race in Thailand we were running in 2nd place but a slow leak in a tire dashed those hopes. But this time at Fuji, where I have always run well, I was able to get a new view on things and looking forward to a good race, ‘Finishing with no points in Thailand, it was good that there was no weight handicap.’ I thought at the very least we’d be on the podium, but the team and Bridgestone put together a great car, making it the best possible race week.”
“I was tasked with the 2nd stint and the 4th, and with the great job Takagi (Shinichi) did at the start, I was able to widen the gap he made. The result of the race in Thailand left a bitter taste in the mouth, but the win in this race gets us back in the groove. I feel great now!”
Source. Super GT