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FUJI SUPER GT WIN FOR THE KEIHIN NSX-GT

The Takanokono Hotel FUJI GT 300km RACE, Round 2 of the 2020 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4,563m×66 laps) in Shizuoka Prefecture on August 9 (Sun). In the GT500 class, the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Bertrand Baguette) starting from 2nd position on the front row of the grid took the lead and continued to run far ahead of the pack to win the race. It was the first win of the new season for the Honda NSX-GT. In the GT300 class, the SYNTIUM Apple・LOTUS (Hiroki Katoh/Masataka Yanagida) won their first team victory in 10 years.

This Round 2 race at Fuji Speedway was held without spectators as had the Round 1 race been in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The skies were cloudy, and the air temperature at 29℃ in typical summer weather for Fuji when the race started on schedule at 1:00 in the afternoon.

The race for the lead in the first half turned into a tense battle between two Honda NSX-GT cars, the pole-starting No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Nirei Fukuzumi) and the 2nd-place grid-starting No.17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Bertrand Baguette) clinging close to its tail.

On the first turn of the 15th lap, car No. 17 pulled up alongside the leading car No. 8 and passed in the following Coca Cola Corner. Once in the lead, No. 17 pushed hard and gradually pulled away from No. 8.

After that, the ace driver Koudai Tsukakoshi took the wheel of car No. 17 from the mid-race routine pit stop and pulled out of reach of the rest of the pack and built up a lead of about 20 seconds over the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi) that had emerged in 2nd place in the second half of the race. In the final stages of the race, No. 17 used this margin of lead to run on steadily to the win with a big lead of some 15 seconds over 2nd place.

With this, the No.17 KEIHIN NSX-GT scored its first GT500 win since the opening round of the 2018 season. For the Honda NSX-GT it was the first win of the new season. Finishing 2nd was the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Sacha Fenestraz). In 3rd place came another TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 team, the No. 14 WAKO’S 4CR GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima/Sho Tsuboi). Among the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 teams, although the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Kazuki Hiramine) had been running in 3rd place in the first half, in the end the highest finisher was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Kohei Hirate/Katsumasa Chiyo) in 8th place.

In the early stages of the GT300 class race, the pole-starting No. 6 ADVICS muta MC86 (Ryohei Sakaguchi) and the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Hideki Yamauchi) were engaged in a fierce battle for the lead. Behind them, however, the No. 2 SYNTIUM・Apple・LOTUS (Hiroki Katoh) in 3rd place had been waiting for the right opportunity to spring and eventually adopted aa strategy of extending their run before making their routine pit stop. Making great use of that strategy, No. 2 (Masataka Yanagida) was able to take the lead in the second half of the race and run on to victory unchallenged. For their Cars Tokai Dream 28 team this brought them their first SUPER GT victory in 10 years. Finishing 2nd was car No. 61 (Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi), while the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Toshiki Oyu) took 3rd place.

Winner Comments

GT500

No.17 KEIHIN NSX-GT
Koudai Tsukakoshi
“I have never had a race like this where I didn’t feel like I had beaten anyone. I was just involved in a constant discourse with the car as I drove. In the first half Baguette was very fast and built up a big lead for us, but when I started driving, I was having trouble and I was worried that if things went on like this, I might lose our lead. But, during the second half of my stint the car’s performance got better, things became easier for me and I was able to keep my lead to the finish. I want to say thanks to our team manager Kaneishi-san, to Baguette, to KEIHIN, to Honda and all the people who have supported us.”

Bertrand Baguette
“From the start the condition of the car was very good. The battle for the lead with the other NSX-GT, No. 8, wasn’t easy, but I was able to pass it and go on to build a lead because the car was performing so well. After that, Tsukakoshi-san used that lead well and took us to the win. This is the first win for the NSX-GT since changing to the front engine format, and I am happy for that. Since coming to Japan, my family in Belgium has been worried about me as I have been worried about them in these difficult times. But my motivation is high, and it is wonderful that we have been able to show that we can win.”

GT300

No. 2 SYNTIUM・Apple・LOTUS
Hiroki Katoh
“It has been a long ten years. I can’t even remember those times (laughs). No, that is a lie. I am so happy that we have this race. [When we chose to delay our pit stop] I didn’t know it the tire performance would hold out, so I couldn’t push too hard and that is why car No. 61 got in front of me. But since the tires were holding out and I was running fast, I was able to finish my stint and hand over the car to Yanagida-san in a favorable position, and I think that is why we won.”

Masataka Yanagida
“I am really so happy. Since it has been so hard for us to win [in GT300] and since this we have been able to win in the second round of this first full season entry for me for a while, I want to thank the team staff and Katoh-san and the people at Yokohama Tire. I think that [with this victory] I have been able t

Source. Super GT

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