The SUGO GT 300km RACE, Round 7 of the 2019 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at Sportsland SUGO (one lap: 3,704 m x 81 laps) in Miyagi Prefecture on September 22. Rain began to fall just before the start, bring turmoil and confusion to the race. In the GT500 class race, the winner was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R driven by Kohei Hirate and Frederic Makowiecki, while in the GT300 class race, the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 driven by Shinichi Takagi and Nirei Fukuzumi, as both teams came from behind to take their first win of the season.
Although the weather had held until after noon, the rain that had been predicted began to fall as a sprinkle before the 2:00 race start. As the rain began to make the track wet, the race didn’t really start in earnest until three laps had been run behind the Safety Car. The pole-starting No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi) team was betting that the rain would stop soon and started the race with slick tires. But, as the rain continued to fall, it couldn’t hold position and began to drop far back in the pack. In its place, the No. 1 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Jenson Button) took the lead, followed by the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 Nick Cassidy) and the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Kohei Hirate) as the top three.
After the 30th lap the teams began to make their routine pit stops. After this, depending on the condition of the rain, the teams’ choices varied regarding rain tire, and in the end it was the No. 1 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto) team that made the wrong choice. This put the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa) in the lead, but as the rain got stronger, it couldn’t hold the pace and began to slow down. In these tough conditions, the car that was able to maintain a fast pace was Frederic Makowiecki in the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R. After passing car No. 37, he began to pull away from the pack in the lead. After this he ran on to give the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R and the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 their first win of the season. For Hirate and Makowiecki, who came to this team this season, it was their first win in the GT-R as well. Finishing 2nd was the No. 64 Modulo Epson NSX-GT (Narain Karthikeyan/Tadasuke Makino) that showed exceptional speed in the rain, while 3rd place went to the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli).
The No. 6 WAKO’S 4CR LC500 (Kazuya Oshima/Kenta Yamashita) managed to hold onto their lead in the point standings by finishing 6th. In the coming final round of the season, three teams will be in contention for the championship title, team No. 6, the Hirakawa pair of No. 37 and the Matsuda pair of car No. 23.
In the GT300 class race, the pole-starting No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Hideki Yamauchi) chose to run on slick tires and quickly lost ground in the field. This put the 2nd-place grid starting No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 (Shinichi Takagi) that had chosen rain tires the lead, which it gradually began to widen. As the rain grew stronger at times in the second half of the race, the team’s second stint driver, rookie Nirei Fukuzumi drove the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 on to the win with no trouble, taking his first win and the first for the Honda NSX GT3. For Takagi it was his 21st career win in GT500, which puts him just one win away from the record for most wins. Finishing 2nd came the No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka), while 3rd place went to the No. 96 K-tunes RC F GT3 (Morio Nitta/Sena Sakaguchi). (Spectators: 25,100)
No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R
“I am really happy to have helped give the GT-R its first win of the season in front of everyone. Before the start, we had to decide whether to go with slick or wet tires, and since I know a lot about SUGO, I was able to suggest that we go with the wet tires, and that is what the team decided to do. Including this decision with the tires to use, Michelin and the team really did a great job for us. I want to say thanks to NISMO, to Michelin and to all the fans who supported us.”
“Arigatou gozaimasu (Thank you). Until now, as a team we had been competitive, and this time with that teamwork we were able to reap the fruit of all our efforts and there was no bad luck or trouble to keep us from winning. I am very happy with this.”
No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3
“I never thought we would win at SUGO. With this, I have gotten one lap closer to [Morio] Nitta-san (No. 96) in the race for most wins. In the championship race, Nitta has moved up to 2nd place in the standings, so I really want us to go all out for the win in the final round of the season.”
“I am really glad that we were able to win this race here. I think we owe this victory to Manage [Aguri] Suzuki and the team, and I am very happy.”
Source. Super GT