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THE DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR OUT RACES THE SUPER GT FIELD AT FUJI

The Takanokono Hotel FUJI GT 300km RACE, Round 5 of the 2020 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4,563m×66 laps) in Shizuoka Prefecture on October 4 (Sun). In the GT500 class, the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Heikki Kovalainen/Yuichi Nakayama) came from 5th place on the starting grid to run away in the final stages and take its first win of the season. In the GT300 class, REALIZE NISSAN AUTOMOBILE TECHNICAL COLLEGE GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira) gave team manager Masahiko Kondo’ team its first class victory.

As a countermeasure to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first four rounds of the season were held without spectators. However, this 5th round was held with spectators, giving the teams their first fan support of the season to inspire great racing. The weather on race day was good with cloudy skies and an air temperature of 21-degrees C. In these conditions the race started on schedule at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Just after the start of the race there was a collision between two GT500 class cars, which immediately brought out the Safety Car. Before the collision, the No. 24 REALIZE CORPORATION ADVAN GT-R (Mitsunori Takaboshi) had taken the lead in the GT500 class followed by the pole-starting No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Nirei Fukuzumi), the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki).

However, starting front the 5th grid position, the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Heikki Kovalainen) had closed in and on the 25th lap rose to 2nd-place behind the leading car No. 8.

It was from around this time that the teams began making their routine pit stops, and thanks to some quick pit work, the No. 39 TGR TEAM SARD was able to get their second-stint driver Yuichi Nakayama back on the track in position where he succeeded to car No. 8 (Tomoki Nojiri) and effectively take the lead in the race.

By the time all of the GT500 class teams had finished their routine pit stops, car No. 39 was rapidly pulling away in the lead from the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Ryo Hirakawa), car No. 8 and the No.14 WAKO’S 4CR GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima/Sho Tsuboi) involved in a fierce battle for 2nd place. In the end, the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Heikki Kovalainen/Yuichi Nakayama) took its first win of the season by a big margin of 10 seconds. Finishing 2nd after working its way out of a tight battle was the No. 14 WAKO’S 4CR GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima/Sho Tsuboi), thus giving the TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 a 1-2 finish at their home track of Fuji Speedway. Finishing 3rd was the No.8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri/Nirei Fukuzumi). The top finisher among the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 teams was the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Kazuki Hiramine) in 8th place

In the GT300 class race, the final stages came down to a race between the No. 52 SAITAMA TOYOPET GB GR Supra GT (Hiroki Yoshida/Kohta Kawaai) that had taken the lead with a no-tire-change strategy and the pursuing Oliveira in the No. 56 REALIZE NISSAN AUTOMOBILE TECHNICAL COLLEGE GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira). In the end, with its greater speed from having changed all four tires, car No. 56 was able to catch and pass No. 52 to take the win. For manager Masahiko Kondo of team KONDO RACING, it was a joyous first victory in their second year in the GT300 class. Finishing 2nd was the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Toshiki Oyu). And finishing 3rd was the winner of the previous round, the No. 65 LEON PYRAMID AMG (Naoya Gamou/Togo Suganami).

Winner Comments

GT500

No.39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra
Heikki Kovalainen
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn’t able to participate in the first two rounds of this season. But I drove as hard as I could from the 3rd round. Today, everything went well with the machine, the tires and the race strategy. At the start the tires weren’t sufficiently warmed up, but once they were, there were no problems. And today, we had the cheering from the fans that had come to the race, and that helped us win. I am very glad that we were able to share this victory with our fans.”

Yuichi Nakayama
“The timing of our pit stop was great, and the speed of our team’s tire changes was the fastest among the Toyota teams, so they delivered for us when it was most important. When I got into the race for my stint, car No. 8 (ARTA NSX-GT) was in front of me and I was able to pass it before its tires got warmed up. Behind me I knew that car No. 37 (KeePer TOM’S GR Supra) was running at a fast pace, but I was able to gradually pull away from it. From there it was difficult thinking about the fuel and the tire wear. Our team’s strength has gone up since last year, and that is thanks to our manager Juichi Wakisaka joining us and giving clear direction to our efforts. Today was truly a race where everything came together perfectly. And I also want to really thank everyone who came to cheer for us.”

GT300

No.56 REALIZE NISSAN AUTOMOBILE TECHNICAL COLLEGE GT-R
Kiyoto Fujinami
“I am really so happy. In our races until now we have been able to compete near the top, but we couldn’t get that final result we wanted. Now we had held meetings to really pull the team together, and Yokohama prepared us with some very good tires. That is the kind of great environment where all I had to do was concentrate and compete in. I am grateful to everyone who has helped create this opportunity for me.”

Joao Paulo de Oliveira
“It has taken us longer to win here in the GT300 class than it did in the GT500 class. Fujinami-san succeeded in moving us up to a position where we were able to go for the win, so on my stint I was able to run at a good pace. We weren’t in apposition where we could use strategies like eliminating the tire changes, but we were still able to win like we did, so I am really happy.”

Source. Super GT

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