The SUGO GT 300km RACE, Round 6 of the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at Sportsland SUGO circuit (one lap: 3,704 m x 81 laps) in Miyagi Prefecture on September 16. In the GT500 class race, winner was the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT driven by Naoki Yamamoto and Jenson Button that started from pole position. For the former F1 champion Button, it was a felicitous first SUPER GT win. In the GT300 class race, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT driven by Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi took a perfect win without ever giving up the race lead.
This Round 6 race was blessed with fine autumn weather, and after the Parade lap led by five Miyagi Prefectural Police motorcycles and one patrol car that started at exactly 2:00, and then one Formation Lap, the race got underway.
In the early going, the pole-starting No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto) and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Jann Mardenborough) battled for the lea at close quarters. Then, on the 22nd lap, the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R passed the RAYBRIG NSX-GT to take the lead. Mardenborough would have liked to run away with that lead, but Yamamoto held on just one or two seconds back. It was the RAYBRIG NSX-GT that was first to make the required pit stop and driver change, followed soon by the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R. It was here that faster pit work enabled the RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Jenson Button) to retake the lead.
In the second half of the race it was still these two machines that stage a breath-taking battle for the lead, until the pace of the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) faltered and it left the track momentarily with apparent machine trouble and it was passed by the pursuing No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri). In the final stages of the race, a crash by a GT300 car brought out the Safety Car to control the race, allowing Nojiri to move up right on Button’s tail to make it a duel by the two NSX-GT machines for the remaining six laps of the race. But the former F1 champion in his first full season in SUPER GT wouldn’t give an inch to his senior NSX-GT driver Nojiri and the RAYBRIG NSX-GT went on to win the race by 0.5 sec. It was much-awaited first win for Button in his seventh race in the NSX-GT. This win by Yamamoto and Button moved them to the top of the season’s Drivers ranking. Finishing 2nd was another Honda NSX-GT, ARTA NSX-GT, and 3rd place went to the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R. Among the LEXUS LC500 teams, the top finisher was the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura) in 5th place.
In the GT300 class, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT driven by Hideki Yamauchi got a good start from pole position and rapidly pulled away from the pack. By the 10th lap Iguchi had a nearly 7-second lead and that, with the exception of the routine pit stop, the team never gave up the lead. In the second half of the race, despite another appearance of the Safety Car, the second driver Takuto Iguchi ran on steadily to take the team’s first win since Round 6 of the 2016 season at Suzuka. Finish in 2nd and 3rd respectively were the No. 10 GAINER TANAX triple a GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Hiroki Yoshida) and the No. 0 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka).
※Spectators: 28,500 (Sept. 16)
No.100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT
“We finally got a win with season’s new driver pair. Things went well in the early stages of the race, but part way through the track temperature rose and the soft tires I was racing on began to lose performance. But I was able to hold on somehow and pass the baton on to J.B. (Jenson Button). He went out to the track on the medium compound tires, but then the track temperature began to drop and make it hard for him. It was a really tough race but the perfect pit work of the team saw us through. I’m really grateful to everyone.”
“Thank you, everyone! I learned a lot again in this race. In the last corner car No. 12 made a mistake right in front of my eyes and ran off the track. After that I made the same mistake. Then at the end the Safety Car came out …. It was really a tough race, but I feel great now that I was able to get this win with Naoki (Yamamoto)-san.”
No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT
“This season we have only been on the podium once, and in many of the other races we had [machine] trouble that kept us from getting good results. It was discouraging for us, but I also felt very bad for the SUBARU fans. That is why I am so happy that we were able to get this win today in front of the fans. But what makes me happiest of all is the fact that we were able to reward our mechanics for all of their efforts by getting this win. That is my greatest joy.”
“We have certainly been through a lot until today. Every time the mechanics stayed up through the night working to prepare our car. But even when they did, more unexpected problems would arise. Still, they would work late into the night again each time to prepare the car for us. That is why I am so glad that we were able to pay back the mechanics for all their efforts with this win. It has been a fantastic weekend.”
Source. Super GT