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A STUNNING SUPER GT VICTORY FROM A LAST-PLACE GRID START FOR THE MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

The FUJIMAKI GROUP SUZUKA GT 300km RACE, Round 6 of the 2020 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series took place at Suzuka circuit (one lap 5,807m × 52 laps) in Mie Prefecture on October 25 (Sun). In the GT500 class, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli) came from the very back of the pack after a Qualifying crash to take a magnificent second straight win at Suzuka thanks to great pit stop timing. The GT300 class race saw the No. 21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS (Shintaro Kawabata/Tsubasa Kondo) grab a come-from-behind victory from 6th position on the grid.

Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, this Round 6 became the first big race at Suzuka Circuit to be held with spectators. The resulting support from the fans spurred the teams on to a great show of racing passion. With fair weather and the air temperature at 20 degrees Celsius, it was great conditions for the final race set to start at 1:00 in the afternoon.


The race began with the pole-sitting No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri) pulling away in the lead, before making its pit stop early at the end of the 19th lap. This started the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) and other top group cars chasing also begin making their pit stops soon after. It was around this time that one of the GT300 class cars ran off the track. This prompted an immediate pit stop by the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli), which had started from the very back of the GT500 starting grid because a crash in the qualifying Q1 session that kept it from getting a qualifying time. The GT300 car’s accident brought out the Safety Car. This turned out to be perfect timing for car No. 23, which in Quintarelli’s hands had recovered to 11th position in the pack when the top group began making their pit stops. The result was that No. 23 suddenly found itself leading the race when the Safety Car retired and the race restarted.


From this point onward, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R with Tsugio Matsuda now at the wheel and being chased by the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Kazuki Hiramine) and the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Nirei Fukuzumi) was able to run on to victory. For the No. 23 team this was their second win of the season following the one here at Suzuka in Round 3. Finishing 2nd for their first podium finish of the season was the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R. Finishing 3rd for the second race in succession was the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT. The top finisher among the TOYOTA GR Supra teams at 5th place was the No. 38 ZENT GR Supra (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura).

In the early stages of the GT300 class race, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Hideki Yamauchi) took the lead away from the pole-starting No. 96 K-tunes RC F GT3 (Morio Nitta) and began to run away from the pack. However, then the No. 52 SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT ran off the track and brought out the Safety Car. When the No. 21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS (Shintaro Kawabata/Tsubasa Kondo) that had started the race from 6th position on the grip took the lead in the latter half of the race as a result, Kawabata was able to run on steadily to take the checkered flag and victory. For both Kawabata and Kondothis was their first GT300 victory. Finishing 2nd was the No.6 ADVICS muta MC86 (Ryohei Sakaguchi/Kazuto Kotaka), while 3rd place went to the No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka).


(Spectators: 19,000 for the Oct.25 race / 9,500 for the Oct. 24 Qualifying)

Winner Comments

GT500

No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
Tsugio Matsuda
“I am so happy that we were able to win here in front of the fans today. During my time attack in the qualifying, the condition of the car was so good that I pushed too hard and crashed. But in my stint in the second half of the race I was able to believe in the preparations I had made until now and hold on to the lead to win. The team staff had been able to fix the car perfectly after the crash and the engineers’ decision on the pit stop timing was perfect, as was the performance of our Michelin tires, so I think this was really a victory that we owe to everyone.”

Ronnie Quintarelli
“Since I was able to run well in my stint today, I was planning to run on more before making the pit stop. Coming out of the 130R curve I was suddenly told over the radio, “Bring it in for the pit top immediately!” It surprised me so much that I wanted to check what I had just heard, but it turned out to be such a good decision by the team and we were fortunate that the timing was perfect. At the time I didn’t know what was going on but when I saw that we were in the lead when Tsugio [Matsuda] got back on the track after the pit stop, I really thought their decision had been perfect as always (laughs). When I think about what happened in the Qualifying, this win was truly a miracle.”

GT300

No.21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS
Shintaro Kawabata
“It has truly been a long time, but how great that our first podium finish in three years was a win. This year we have a new team organization and there were times that were frustrating because we were so close to a good result. This time we also had luck on our side, but my partner was really fast, and the tires were very good. I am so grateful that the team was able to prepare the car this well for us. At the end we were very close to running out of gas, so it was similar to our win at Super Taikyu, but this seems to be the way it always goes with me (laughs). But it is great that we won.”

Tsubasa Kondo
“I still can’t believe that we won. But the moment that Kawabata-san took the winning checkered flag, I was really happy. The team did such a good job on setting up the cart hat I was able to really enjoy driving it. It has been just a great race weekend.”

Source. Super GT

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